Depression. It sucks, a lot. It’s not about being sad all the time, because sometimes I can’t feel anything. It’s not about snapping out of it because so often there is no reason for why I am feeling depressed. It creeps up on me at the most inopportune moments, seemingly out of the blue, only to leave just as quickly. Other times it gradually eases its way into my life making itself comfortable and settling in for the long haul.
It’s a feeling of complete and utter hopelessness. It could be a beautiful sunny day but I’ll feel claustrophobic, like I’m trapped in the dark with no way out. Everything is overwhelming. The thought of getting out of bed is terrifying. There’s no rhyme or reason, I just know, in that depressed moment, however long it lasts, that only bad things will come of getting out of bed.
The self hate doesn’t take long to find it’s way in. Combined with anxiety it becomes almost unbearable. There is no reason to feel this way. Absolutely no valid reason, which sets the anxiety wheels in motion starting with feelings of anger washing over me in waves, eventually giving way to tears. Angry tears, then sad tears, then I’m numb again.
The numb feeling is the worst. Thoughts still swirl around in my head, angry thoughts, sad thoughts, wistful thoughts, but they mean nothing. They make me feel neither worse nor better, I am just merely existing until it passes. It’s hard to describe this numb feeling, because there’s also an extreme feeling of desperation at the same time. I feel nothing and everything at the same time, but it’s all negative.
I try to be alone during these times. If I’m at work, I’ll retreat to my desk, huddled over, getting on with the work and trying to keep to myself. Sometimes crying, sometimes sighing. The energy isn’t there, I’m running on auto pilot, avoiding people as much as possible, watching the minutes tick by slowly until I can go home and hide again. If I’m at home I’ll hide in bed, it’s the place I feel safest.
If I’m not alone and someone talks to me, I’ll usually snap, which is always followed by a terrible feeling of anxiety. How dare I be so rude! I have no right to talk to someone like that. They did nothing wrong, nothing to deserve that treatment. I will agonise for days over how I treated people while I was low, even after I’m feeling human again. If I don’t snap I’ll burst into tears, with no idea why. How do you explain to someone that you’re crying simply because you are?
When I’m low, I want someone to rescue me. But I want to be left alone at the same time. It must be very confusing for the people who care about me, because I can’t communicate what I need at the time. I might want someone to cook a meal for me, but if they did I’d probably be annoyed about it. My brain becomes incredibly unstable when people other than my peer support group are involved.
Some days I wake up happy, motivated, excited or content. Some days I wake up low. I call it low, because it’s neither sad, angry, or numb, it’s a constant mixture of negative emotions. If I’m lucky, something will make me smile in the first couple of hours, which usually gives me a glimmer of hope, enough to drag myself out of the low just a little bit, so that I can be a functioning member of society for the day. Nowadays sometimes I will snap right out of it with that smile and move on because I’ve learned that once the depression has released me, there is no point dwelling on it or berating myself for those feelings. If I’m not lucky, the feelings will continue for an undetermined amount of time, sometimes so strong it’s all I can focus on, sometimes in the background, enough to let me get on with my day, but while still reminding me that they are there.
Low days used to dominate my life. Bawling my eyes out over the smallest things was a regular occurrence. You know the disappointment of arriving at the shop to find they’ve sold out of the item you wanted? That was enough to send me on a downward spiral for days. Calling in sick, staying in bed all day, hiding under the covers, staring at the wall and stressing about losing my job because of being off happened all too often. Running on auto pilot at work and keeping to myself was practically the norm.
I still have these days. I talk in my posts about gratitude and positivity, but on a low day these things don’t always help. In fact, they can make them worse by exacerbating the self hate aspect. My brain works differently on these days, it will turn positives to negatives in a flash to keep me under. If I tell myself that I should be grateful, I get angry at myself that I’m not. I find that it’s best to let these low days happen. It is ok to feel low at times. I berate myself for having ten good days, then a low day, because in my mind I was doing so well, but the reality is we all have low days, some of us just get lower than others.
Gratitude and positivity are a huge part of my life now, because while they haven’t yet stopped the low days, they have helped to lessen the frequency of them. Eating well, exercising and talking about my feelings with like minded people has also helped. If I lapse in any of these things, the outcome is often a low day. There are still the occasional out of the blue low days, but I’m hoping with time they will pass completely.
Dealing with depression is hard work. It’s something we want to hide from people and live with alone. When I get depressed I feel like a burden on people. To some people I am. Not everyone can handle being around someone on a low day. That’s why it’s so important to associate with friends and family who can cope. And if you can’t find that support in your circles, there are drop in centers, phone lines and internet forums where you can reach out for help. Depression doesn’t mean you’re sad, it just means you’re struggling a little.
Smiles and Sunshine