Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Depression as a way of life.

Apologies for the extremely long period of radio silence. Dad's death was hard and I just haven't wanted to deal with writing a post, not that I'm usually a post-every-day girl anyway.

Link to article with more information.


I'm sharing this as more of a PSA or even a glimpse into my soul rather than any grab for pity or whatever. My depression is something I live with, always have. I cannot remember ever having a period of happiness that lasted more than a few weeks, though from pictures, I was brilliantly happy for the first four or five years. My baseline is below normal, and it's both the way my brain is wired, and long-term effects of a childhood gone way wrong. But my ultimate takeaway is this: I'm still alive. I survived my childhood and if I can survive that, I can survive anything life throws at me. It's gotten harder the last few years, I'll admit that, and suicidal ideation comes up more frequently, but it's not gonna get me. I may not be kicking depression's ass, but it's not kicking mine, either.

I've had to make adjustments to how I live my life. Things that are easy for other people aren't for me. I will gladly spend hours walking through IKEA with someone I love, but I'll pay for it later, and that's a choice I make. These are things I deal with on a daily basis, exacerbated by chronic pain from a body that started to break down in my twenties.

Some of these have been worse than usual since my dad died. The grief hit me much harder than I expected it to, and is compounded by the fact that we'd reconciled some old hurts and were getting to know each other again after half a lifetime of semi-estrangement. Seven months with my dad wasn't nearly enough, but I'm so very glad I had them.

The two glaring exceptions for me are guilt and sensitivity.

I carried around guilt for something big for a long time, but during counseling about eight years ago, the therapist worded his response to my confession in such a way that I was finally able to see, clearly, that what happened to me was NOT my fault. It was like magic! It made an enormous difference in my life. I mean sure, I sometimes wonder if I could have handled any number of things differently, but letting go of the guilt for that thing helped me let go of the guilt for so much more. I'm not ashamed of who I am anymore. I still hold people off, and I'm hard to get to know, but I'm me and I'm cool with that.

I'm not as thin-skinned as I used to be, either. Maybe it's age, maybe it's becoming comfortable in my own skin. Who knows? But I don't care what people think about me anymore. It's none of my business. So when people are intentionally or accidentally hurtful, I no longer take it personally. There are exceptions, of course. Nobody's perfect, for frak's sake, but I tend to respond now, if I respond at all, with a simple, "Thank you." It freaks people the frak out, and is such a state-interruptor they have to think about what they just said, and sometimes, it makes a difference for that person. Do I value people's opinions? Yes. I can use even hurtful words to examine myself and make changes if necessary. But I don't live my life in fear that someone doesn't like me.

Hopelessness comes and goes. Sometimes, things seem absolutely bleak and I can't see a way out, but I still hope, and I keep going, and eventually, things get better enough.

Am I Pollyanna? Not in a million years. Am I happy? Not very often. But I'm alive, and every day above ground is a good day.


Indifference: Things that used to matter or were once felt to be important fade into the background. You lose enthusiasm and interest.

Energy Loss: It's very common to feel you've done a full day of heavy labor when in fact the day hasn't even begun. Energy loss and fatigue are common symptoms of depression.

Enjoyment bypass: For some reason things don't smell or taste as good as they once used to. Your senses lose their edge and the pleasures once enjoyed diminish.

Guilt: The most human of errors are judged disproportionately. Minor mistakes or indiscretions, even distant memories, may be thought of with shame or guilt.

Tears or Torpor: Some people with depression feel great despondency and sadness and cry a great deal. Others go emotionally flat. They feel flat and hollow inside as though their emotions have been drained.

Aches and Pains: There is often an increase in physical symptoms when people become depressed. They may complain of back pain, headaches or stomach upsets or just a vague sense of feeling generally unwell.

Hopelessness: When people are depressed the world and their future in it seems an altogether bleak prospect. There's often a sense that no matter what you say or do nothing will ever change except perhaps for the worse.

Anxiety: When depression strikes it is invariably accompanied by worry and anxiety and, not uncommonly, one or more stressful experiences is the culprit. The way we respond and adapt to stressful situations can have an important bearing on our vulnerability to depression.

Moodiness: Irritability and general moodiness are common ingredients in the depression mix. You may find yourself becoming impatient, tetchy, argumentative and intolerant.

Sensitivity: People with depression are on high alert for anything that fuels their vulnerabilities. Implied or direct criticism or rejection aren't received well and reinforce a state of worthlessness and hopelessness.


If reading this resonates strongly for anybody, remember one thing. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.