I enjoy blogging and podcasting so much, that I can’t even tell you. It lights me up inside to press the publish button and know that I’m creating these small records of my existence. I love connecting with people in this way and hope that my words will give somebody comfort or make them feel less alone. It’s not always easy, though.
I’ve opened up before about my personal experience with depression and how I’ve coped, but today I want to talk about how depression actually manifests itself in my life. I recently rode a pretty big sad wave and I thought, instead of just picking up where I left off and writing a blog without explaining why I haven’t written in two weeks, maybe I can let everyone know what I go through when the sad wave hits.
It starts small, like any wave, I guess. Something happens that makes me question my value. A comment triggers insecurity. Insecurity builds a story in my head about how I’m really just a piece of shit. I lose sleep. I wake up feeling exhausted. I work a 14-hour day. I order take-out because I don’t have the time to step away from my work. I stay up late because I want time for myself at the end of a long work day. I feel guilty for everything that I’ve eaten. I hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
Small tasks start to seem giant. Stuff as simple as going to the store, walking around the block, stepping into my own backyard, or sitting down and writing seem like huge feats. I feel embarrassed by my lack of motivation, which propels me further into sadness. There are definitely stress meals followed by self-loathing. Another day goes by.
I have a strong desire to make connections with people, but I also feel like doing absolutely nothing. I worry that not wanting to be social will mean that I am boring. I start to wonder if people think I’m boring. I’m always sensitive to anything loud, but these waves make everything louder and more uncomfortable for me to listen to. Tears everywhere. Everything makes me want to cry and then I feel embarrassed for crying, which makes me cry some more. I start to feel crazy and going out seems like a bad idea because I worry that someone will notice.
I get mad at myself. I get quiet. I want to say everything and nothing at the same time. I have no patience for myself or anyone else. I feel angry. I feel foolish. I feel like a problem. I hope for it to go away. My husband holds my hand through the whole thing, but I know it’s taxing for him and I feel guilty. My dogs snuggle me. I step out into the sunshine. I keep reminding myself that it won’t last forever and I try my best to keep on trekking.
And it doesn’t last forever, thank goodness. The same way it arrives, it slowly dissipates. I put my headphones on and shuffle a playlist. The right song comes on. My foot taps. My body moves. I start a mini-dance party. My dogs participate. Maybe Ralph participates. I smile. I laugh. A friend comes over. A text comes through. I spend some time recharging. I journal about the whole experience.
Aside from medicating myself with marijuana – which helps tremendously – I also try to practice gratitude. Deepak Chopra says that gratitude is healing. It expands your awareness and shifts your focus from something that’s actually hurting you to something that is healing. It’s true. When I stop to think about all of the good in my life – I start to feel restored.
I am grateful for my family.
I am grateful for my friends.
I am grateful for a roof over my head, food on my table, and everything else that is abundant in my life.
I am grateful for you.
I am grateful for this space where I can share without fear.
I am grateful that, even though I feel lonely sometimes, I’m not alone. Neither are you.