My depression, that is.
Or that’s the only explanation I have for the way I’ve been feeling.
Ever since I got back from Flipside I’ve been stressed and anxious. There was so much on my to-do list and not the time or energy to do it.
Now I just don’t *want* to.
Not wanting to do things I normally would is never a good sign.
Some of the things on that to-do list were even fun things like sewing. Or something like organizing my room which can at times be pleasant, as it clears the clutter from my brain in the process.
I’ve been increasingly fatigued, even when I’ve had enough sleep.
My boss had to tell me to smile yesterday.
There’s a void in my chest and I don’t know what will fill it.
Not being able to imagine what might make me happy is not a good thing.
This isn’t the sobbing, sleepless, angsty depression of my old job.
This is the tired, weighted, never pull the covers off your face again depression. The depression where even feeling sad takes too much effort.
Logically, I *should* be happy. I have a loving significant other, I like my job. I am working a bit more than I’d like and have less money than I’d like, but nothing that’s happened I can think of to set this off. I don’t have many friends, but there’s reason to hope a few social opportunities will develop this summer.
Or maybe I’m thinking about this all wrong. Maybe depression isn’t a cause-effect relationship at all. Maybe depression just creeps in like weeds in a garden if you’re not ever vigilant.
I guess I haven’t been vigilant.
I thought changing jobs would “fix” things. Fix me.
I thought if I liked what I was doing, I’d like myself again and everything else would go away.
Perhaps it’s this family stuff – not talking to my parents and knowing my mother is having knee surgery this week but I don’t know how to comfort her.
Because I don’t have room for everything in my life to be about her right now.
I don’t know what’s missing.
But what really scares me is the thought that nothing is.
The thought that no matter what I do, no matter how many positive changes I make in my life, I will never be happy.
Is that depression lying to me or is it real?
Is it possible that being someone who struggles with depression means that I might never be happy?
I just wish I wasn’t so tired.
I wish I felt excited about anything.
I keep focusing on everything negative in my life instead of the positive things I have going for me.
I thought I was doing better.
Clearly I’m not.
6 thoughts on “It’s Back…”
What is it going to take to make you happy? Buy a kitten, they work for happiness and companionship.
I do have a cat already which I raised from a kitten. It helps some but isn’t enough on its own
From my own experience I can say it comes and goes: being hyper vigilant and filling your life with friends and purpose and pets helps, but sometimes depression will creep in anyway. It goes away again. It isn’t that you will never be happy, it is that sometimes you just won’t. And that’s not your fault.
I think sometimes I just want to be “cured” or “normal,” whatever that means. I just kept thinking if I changed this or that about my life, I could keep depression from coming back. But maybe now I need to accept it as an occasional visitor, and just make sure I do the things I need to do to keep it from getting worse, including not feeling ashamed of asking someone to come spend time with me.
Depression and the way our society has taught us to think about it sucks.
Situational depression is cause and effect: there’s a trigger, depression happens, remove the trigger and depression goes away.
Major depression can be triggered by events or situations, and sometimes it just happens for no reason we can discern at all. It also comes back.
People may have situational depression that clears up when the stressor is removed, and then years later another bout of depression without the trigger event. Depression rewires your brain, effectively. Once you’ve had one depressive episode, your odds of having another go up, logarithmically with each re-occurrence.
It can be an issue you will deal with for the rest of your life, which is a depressing thought all by itself.
There are things that can help!!!
Learning to recognize when your brain chemistry is lying to you and screwing with you can be enormously helpful. For example, the idea that if you were more ‘vigilant’ you wouldn’t be depressed? That’s a brain chemistry lie. There is no degree of vigilance that can keep depression away.
IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT YOU ARE FEELING DEPRESSED.
You didn’t fail at life, at keeping it away, so it’s not your own fault you feel like this. You don’t deserve to feel this way because of your own failures.
Another brain chemistry lie is the idea that you can ‘fix’ your depression.
THERE IS NOTHING IN YOU THAT IS BROKEN, THEREFORE YOU DON’T NEED TO BE FIXED.
You are perfectly fine, you are not broken, you are not crushed on the floor and now rendered useless, obsolete or otherwise worthless. There is no magic cure that will make things better, because you are already perfect.
Depression wants to set you up in a horrible dilemma like that: it’s your fault you’re depressed, and if only you’d done X you could be all better. Forget the idea of ‘all better’, because that is a trap depression sets up for us. There is no ‘all better’, there is only Zuul. No, wait, there is only ‘doing better today, right now.’
And a big one? The idea that you will never be happy because of depression. That is a societal lie, a cultural lie, and a brain chemistry fuckup lie of doom.
Yes, there is no ‘cure’. Yes, it will keep coming back and need to be dealt with, worked around, and endured. No, you will not ‘never be happy again.’
YOU CAN AND WILL FIND HAPPINESS, PLEASURE AND JOY IN LIFE, EVEN WITH DEPRESSION.
It takes work, some learned skills, and patience with yourself, but you can be happy and fulfilled and joyful. Depression takes a lot of the joy out of life, it’s true. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to be joyful around it, in spite of it, alongside it.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was enormously helpful to me. I recommend it highly: having someone who knows how to deal with the brain gremlins of depression, someone to help you learn to deal with your own gremlins, is huge, vital, important, useful and fantastic. They’ll call you on your word choice, on your phrasing, on the way you talk about yourself and your world, and help you rephrase your mental habits and speech patterns, behavior patterns, to increase your happiness.
If all else fails, find a support group and go, participate, sit with depressed people and realize how fucking common it all is. Support groups should be free, and they often have coffee.
Terms to google, if you want to do self directed learning about depression: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, long term treatment for depression, exercise for depression, meditation for depression, building the habit of a joyful mind.
Things to try for yourself that may help:
*Set and keep a routine. When you’re depressed, finding the motivation to do things like brush one’s teeth can be hard; a routine can provide momentum when motivation fails.
*Make daily exercise a part of your routine. Endorphins are good, and we get them when we exercise; if your brain isn’t giving you endorphins, you can hijack your brain and MAKE it give you the feel good chemicals. It can be as easy as walking every day, or riding your bike (which, lets be real, can be lots of fun — the wind in your hair, the speed, the zoooooom!)
*Journal about how you feel. Do a daily journal to explore your feelings. Try to expose all the places your brain chemistry is lying to you, drag them out and logic them to death. Be gentle with your feelings, but take the brain chemistry lies, all the things in your head that are fucking with you, and burn them with logic and reasonable thoughts.
*Ask your friends and loved ones to help you: they can catch when you’re using self defeating language, when you’re talking bad about yourself, and when you’re speaking depressions lies, and help you recognize them and then rephrase them. Trigger words are: should, ought to, never, always, any negative word applied to yourself, and any sentence that starts with “I” — watch all those and see how you use them, and what emotional load is attached to them. People around you can catch you when you use those words and phrases and help you remember not to talk bad about yourself, not to place unrealistic expectations on yourself, and to be gentle with yourself.
I know. Long comment is long. Sorry…
I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder with recurrent episodes in 2008, and then spent 18 months in therapy, once a week. I know what I’m talking about, so please take what I’m telling you as an attempt to honestly help you.
Therapy if you can get it, a support group if possible, help from friends and loved ones around you, watching yourself and your words, taking good care of yourself through diet and exercise, finding time to do leisure activities and not getting too down on yourself for feeling badly. All that. Do that. It all helped and continues to help me.
hugs and love
All of that is helpful, thank you. I have found another possible source of cheap therapy, so we will see how it goes. When you’re in it, it’s really hard to be sure what is a depression lie, because depression WANTS you to think it’s true. My schedule is variable, so maybe trying to add a little more routine into the mix would be helpful. Maybe I need a breakfast routine or a laundry day and a clean the kitchen day and a work on my room day…like 20-30 minutes most days on various chores so I stay on top of them and it doesn’t feel like everything is annoying me all at once? I could use my tendency to “list” to my advantage. I think asking for help is where I run into trouble. I talk myself out of it because when I was majorly depressed in college I almost lost some friends, but maybe that’s where therapy takes some of the pressure off, too. hugs and love back.