Finding the Light Switch
Posted on May 3, 2012
Why shouldn’t I? Well over the past few weeks, I’ve been told that I seem distracted, sad, ‘out of it’. All true.
But the real truth is that I’ve been slipping into depression.
We see on commercials and read in the paper that ‘depression is real’ and it can affect people just ‘like you and me’. Well, I don’t know if it affects you – if at all. And if it doesn’t, how do I explain to you why I’m not myself? Do I go into a business meeting and make the disclaimer that I’ll probably seem terribly distracted for the next hour but don’t worry it’s only because my brain feels like the dryer lint trap? Or do I tell my dad how wonderful it is that he’s paying me a visit but I’d much rather be in bed staring at the ceiling this week?
While everyone handles depression differently, there are feelings and behaviors that are common for most people. I’d outline them for you here but my friend Casey did a wonderful job in this post: you are not. I can’t speak for everyone but I can tell you what it feels like for me. Mostly, its like trying to find the light switch in a dark room. You know its there but you can’t…quite…find it.
My mind suffers.
First, I just get sad for no apparent reason. Think of something that makes you terribly sad. No remove the actual thought that’s making you sad and you’re just left with a sad feeling, right? THAT. I tune out. I get quiet. My mind feels as though it’s 1,000 miles away from my body. My body feels as though it’s transporting itself around, says words it needs to say but my brain is nowhere to be found. At least the part of it that makes me smile. care. laugh. create. I feel like a robot.
My work suffers.
This is what kills me the most. I’d love to say its my personal relationships but the people who love me understand. It’s the working world that I struggle with. When I’m depressed, everything I write sounds dead. I don’t realize it at the time but when I come out of the ‘fog’, I’ll read something I wrote and not find a piece of myself in it. The worst part is that I can’t control the timing and a deadline is a deadline whether my mind is healthy or not. I feel a great responsibility to do the best work I can for my editors, the publications, and the readers. Knowing that when I’m down, they’re not getting the best of me, I feel like the biggest disappointment in the world.
My relationship suffers.
When I met Beau, I didn’t mention a word about my depression until it hit. Despite having been on and off medication since my late teens, I like to pretend it’s not there…until it is. Beau didn’t come right out and say this at the time but he didn’t believe depression was real. Everyone gets sad. Everyone has bad days. Stop being such a baby and get it over it. It was a rocky adjustment period but let’s just say he has a *far* better understanding now than he did before. I know it’s not easy though. He gets shut out and shut down in every way you can imagine, which yes, makes me feel sad even when I’m out of the fog.
My body suffers.
Exercise can be a wonderful relief for depression. The problem is that when I’m depressed, the last thing I want to do is move from the couch to the bed, let alone run, swim, or jump. My body hurts and my neck and shoulders are full of knots. Yoga is usually my best option while although I’m in a room with 20 other people, I feel alone in a dark room which is exactly where I want to be. And 90% of the time, I feel better than I did before the class. Even if it only lasts a short period of time.
Nothing lasts forever.
Maybe depression is different for you. Maybe you don’t suffer from it at all but chances are, someone you know does and in that case, we all suffer. Hopefully, you’ll never experience depression first hand but if you do? Just remember the suffering doesn’t last forever. There’s light outside darkness…and in the darkness you are not alone.