Monday, February 17, 2014

The Dark, Lonely Place

[I almost deleted this entire post because I didn't want to freak out my parents, but I thought it might help someone, so I'm publishing it. I promise I'm OK.]

I've been kind of silent lately because I've been in a depressive slump. Writing about your depression isn't something exciting or fun. It's not something people get really jacked up about sharing with the world. However, I've written about it enough times on this blog, and I always get at least one "me, too" comment, so I know I'm not alone, and sometimes, my depression actually helps other people. You're not alone.

After dealing with depression for over a decade, I've learned that there are no real "triggers" for me. Sometimes, my brain chemicals just decide to go wonk, and there's nothing I can do about it. I manage my depression with medication and mental exercises, but there is NO cure. I won't magically pop out of this one day. I can only hope for long periods of what I now see as a kind of "remission."

I've been doing really well for a very long time. I've been loving my miniatures, my friends, and my family. So having my Depression Bomb go off has been very disturbing. Everything was HAPPY SHINY GOOD for a very long time. But now, out of nowhere, I wake up hopeless. I go to bed hopeless. I daydream about not living anymore. Not suicide. Never that.

OK, I'm lying.

I daydream about suicide sometimes or just dying peacefully in some way. But I'll never pull that particular trigger.

I promise.

Suicidal/death thoughts are part of the game when you have depression. No one likes to talk about it because friends or family might FREAK THE F*CK OUT, but my medical doctor once told me this: It's perfectly normal to think about, visualize, or fantasize about death. The key is to not act on it. Not acting on it shows mental health. She actually said that, and I remembered it well. The fact that I don't act on these thoughts means I'm still here, still fighting, still trying, and still in control of my mind and actions. The annoying part is that I also visualize having a very long life, filled with sadness.

But beyond the death daydreams, I have long periods of meh. Nothing seems fun, not even my miniatures. Family gatherings seem like work. Getting together with friends seems like a lot of looking at people and realizing how happy and easy THEIR lives are in comparison to my own. Depression brings out a lot of this:

They have families.
They have homes they own.
They have children.
They have lovers.
They have sweet nothings.
They have sex.
They have surprise birthday parties.
They have tons of things in common.
They have savings accounts.
They have family vacations.
They have washing machines.
They have....
They have...
They have.

It's horrifying. I start making T-Charts in my head of all of the things Other People have that I don't have. Or the things I do have are the exact opposite of good:

I have tax debt.
I have a falling-apart rental house.
I have back pain.
I have depression.
I have misery.
I have aching loneliness.

It's very ugly.

When I'm good, I make no comparisons. I see what a vast wealth of things and blessings I have that blow all of the other lists away. When my mind is in the right state, I have zero jealously -- strange, but true. I have SO many good things. I know this. But right now, I don't remember any of them. I only have the things I don't have floating around in my mind, poking the bear. You are a failure. You have a big fail ball. Congrats!

There's been a lot of crying lately. It's not fun. It also concerns my parents, who are the only ones who see me cry. They're used to it. They know that "this too shall pass." They've seen me climb out of dark pits and shake my fists at the world. I AM BLONDIE, AND I'M F*CKING AMAZING!! They know I am a phoenix who has simply burst into flames. It takes a while to regroup is all. I'll come around. I always do.

But this part, it's terrible. It hurts. It brings up all of the old hurts and rubs them in my face.

The worst part is that I always try to fight it, which makes it more difficult to manage. I pretend to be fine. The shiny starts to wear off on the inside, but I keep shining on the outside. I keep smiling and giggling and pretending that I'm OK, OH YES I AM. But inside, I'm flaking apart. I'm judging myself and the entire world. I am Doom and Gloom and there is just one tiny thread holding me together before I burst out crying in the middle of the soda aisle at Target.

Nothing feels worse than the aching ball in your throat and the teetering tears on your lower lids when you're trying SO HARD not to cry. And nothing feels better than just letting it out.

This is my way of letting it out.

I'm not crying right now. I'm just typing. I'm staring at my computer with Webster on my lap and sunlight peeking through the window. I feel dead inside. No sad, no anger, just dead. Maybe now that I've openly acknowledged it, it will start to get better.

And just in case someone else feels this way, too: I understand.


If you're feeling blue and are having serious thoughts about acting on suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


otterine said...

Yes, I understand, too. Phoenix...yep, that's a great analogy. All this snow and grey hasn't helped this year, I am sure. Hugs for you as we sweep up the ashes together. :]

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that you are in the black pit of hell. Hang in there Blondie - you always come out of it and do amazing things. You are a very talented writer and mini-maker. I appreciate your blog so much and worry about you when you are not online. Go ahead and cry - it will do you a world of good.

Debora said...

I've been where you are, rising out of the ashes. It will get better. And this column makes it clear that you know that and are on the road to longer and longer remissions. But scared cause the depression bomb just went off without warning...yep, I get that!

Anonymous said...

With you. It’s amazing how one’s emotions seem so NOT within one’s control. My therapist says emotions are like weather. Storms come in, storms go out. Sunny day here, windy there. I do take comfort in this idea - weather always changes. But you, your awareness remains. I do a bit of meditating, and sitting in plain awareness sometimes gives me space to just be, hold the storm at arms’ length. I don’t necessarily feel great, but at least I don’t have to feel horrible.

I came by way of finding your post on being single and feeling like single women are invisible - I so agree! Of course, we have Condi Rice to look at, which may or may not be comforting. Anyway, I really appreciated that post - so thank you! I’m glad you’re here. Keep writing.

A. Wright said...

I've been sitting here for a while searching for the right thing to say, all I have is that I'm here to listen whenever you need it.

You're not alone, I think what you said will hit very close to home with many people, even if they don't comment. I know it sounded very familiar to me.

Blondie said...

Please don't worry at all about saying the right thing. I'm simply feeling grateful for being heard and cared about. Thank you all so much!

Emma said...

Hi Blondie, hang in there. Although I've not commented before, I've read your blog for ages and I love seeing your work on the Greenleaf forum. I think you're amazing. I used to get so depressed that getting dressed and going for a walk was my success for the day, so I understand the deadness inside. And the jealousy, too. I'll be thinking of you and hoping this time passes quickly.

Anonymous said...

You have:

A family who loves you
A sister who admires you
A close relationship with your parents
Lots of creativity
A definite talent for observation and writing
A niece who adores you and looks up to you
Kitties who have a safe, warm home that you provide for them...

Pippa said...

God, it's so hard to explain depression to people who don't have it. Mine is very, very bad right now so I feel your pain. I went to a mental health facility recently to get help and the intake counselor asked me if I had a history of suicide. ME: ....I am not sure that's even possible. How would you have a "history" of suicide? It took the counselor a few minutes to figure out what he said. I take a little heart from being able to laugh at something, even when my mind is so dark.

Sarah K. said...

It always gets better. That is what I hang onto, and what gets me through it. That it always, always gets better. The sun comes back out, it gets easier to smile. It gets better.

It is hard for me because I know my husband doesn't understand. My kids, of course, don't understand. I get more desperate to hide it now, because of them. How do I explain to a 4 year old that Mama just feels sad sometimes? My therapist said that it is ok to, and that it will help him. But it just hurts, trying to explain to others how I feel and that no, there isn't a trigger that makes me feel this way.

Thanks for sharing. It does help me feel less alone, when I read about other's experiences with depression.


Blondie said...

These comments warm my soul. Thank you so much.

Rita Arens said...

To Sarah K -- it's okay to cry in front of them and say that. I beat myself up the first 14 times I ugly cried in front of my daughter for something that seems so silly when I'm not anxious. Now I just tell her it's anxiety and it'll pass.

For Blondie: Here, I built you a nest. Would you like to come sit in it with me?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that you have to deal with depression, I've been there too. As a matter of fact I lived with depression most of my life. You say you begin listing all the things you don't have in your life and I'm sure that contributes to it, but I always had nice things, pretty home, good husband, etc. and I was still depressed. I tried to convince myself I had everything that should make a person happy, I was still depressed a lot, especially in winter or around holidays. Odd thing for me, when I went thru menopause I quit being depressed. Never really had another depressed day in my life. It kinda really pissed me off to realize that I wasted so much of my life sitting staring into space depressed and it was obviously linked to hormones (in my case). I wish I would have had kicked and screamed at doctors until they checked me out instead of giving me antidepressants which didn't help that much any way. I subscribe to a lot of Miniature feeds, but I check daily to see if you have posted. Love to read your writing and see your work. You make a positive difference in my life. Thank you!!

Melanie said...

I find January and February to be some of the hardest months... I blame the weather, everything feels so black, so cold, so DEPRESSING, so my mind goes there too. *hugs* spring is right around the corner, and I for one and hoping spring will help me realize more happy!