There is a country song called "A Baby Changes Everything." And it does. (Don't worry I'm not pregnant or anything, nor is anyone close to me that I know of. It's just what I keep coming back around to). It's a sweet song. Has a sweet message. On bad days, it makes me cry. On good days I simply revel in the beautiful voice singing it.
But, babies aren't the only things that change 'everything.' There are lots of things that can turn your entire world on a dime. And somethings that creep in slowly like the dark creeps over the world at dusk. Or light during a sunrise, that's a more positive metaphor.
Depression is one of those things. It taints everything. And I mean everything. The best of times can be wonderful and great and amazing. But, the moment you leave, your 'reality' crashes right back in.
I function. And, I'd like to think I function pretty darn well. I go to work. I pay my bills. I sleep and eat and shower and do my dishes. I see friends and family, regularly. I vary the friends I see. I read. I dream and wish and try to plan. I try to hope.
But some days all of that, any one of those things, when it is done, feels like nothing more than a distraction from my 'reality.'
I had a lovely, lovely afternoon last Sunday with a college friend I haven't seen in 10 years or so. She was open and accepting and asked, almost point-blank, about my recent struggle with depression. She agreed it was time to seek help. And was the least judging of anyone I think I've ever talked to. And we sat for 3 hours and visited. Less than half an hour spent on my struggle. The rest on life, and family and plans and history and how we got to where we are, and where we're hoping to go etc etc etc. And I left and my spirits were lifted. And I felt maybe I could tackle this. Maybe it's not so bad. And I was grateful.
And within 2 days it was the same dreary gray heavy darkness that hangs around. And I confirmed with myself that I need outside help. I'm not getting better. It's not getting easier. All the sunshine and air conditioning in the world isn't making it easier to get up in the morning.
So, last week I made the call. To my regular primary care physician. Because he is an amazing doctor, whom I trust implicitly. Who will double check my physiological health and confirm or deny any origins for this struggle in that area. And to see if he has any recommendations for a counselor. and when they couldn't get me in for 3 weeks, I almost broke down. All I could think was "It shouldn't be this hard. Life shouldn't feel this hard."
I noticed a couple of weeks ago, once I was ready to start sharing with real, live, face-to-face, human beings how bad this struggle is this time, that I kept expecting one of them to have The Magic Words that would break this spell and suddenly I'd be able to snap out of this. And each time I shared, and they were sympathetic, and spoke kind words, and I didn't snap out of it, I'd get annoyed. With myself, with the universe, with It. And one day it finally dawned on me, I am talking to the wrong people. These are not the people who can help me. Not this time. And then awhile later I realized, there are no Magic Words. I am probably not going to snap out of this in a day or even a week.
Years ago when I first realized that depression was a thing I was experiencing I started looking backwards. As I do with any struggle or issue in my world, I go backwards to figure out the cause because sometimes that is enough for me to break the hold and get over whatever the thing is. As I looked backwards, I could see pieces of depressive episodes almost as far back as I can remember. So, what makes me think, that anyone is going to have Magic Words that will immediately make me better?? A bit of crazy I guess. But then, you all knew that about me anyway.
I tell you all of that to tell you this.
Depression changes everything.
It changes your hopes and dreams and wishes and goals.
It changes the 40 hour work week.
It changes the hopes for love and romance.
It changes the movie and TV choices.
It changes the friendships.
It's like a filter. Like people say someone is seeing the world through Rose-Colored Glasses.
Right now, I see the world through Gray-Colored Glasses. Everything is dull. Very few places or things offer hope.
Somehow Gray-Colored Glasses make everything harder, heavier. That is one of the most difficult things to get people to understand. My easiest example is that on my worst days, it takes all my energy to work all day, come home, and then have to lift the coffee carafe half full of water to set my coffee pot for the next morning. Some nights, that coffee carafe feels like it weighs 25 pounds. Some days I come home and I repeat one of my mantras:
Just don't stop.
Because once you stop, you know you'll never get going again. Because if you let your self actually think about it, you'll halt in your tracks. If you let yourself consider all the things that ought to be done, the idea of that list in itself is overwhelming. Much less choosing something to start with and then completing that thing. Knowing full well there are at minimum a half dozen more things on that list to be completed. And some of them rely on each other. Which exponentially increases the "weight" associated with each task.
These last 6 months or so have been quite bleak for me. I haven't been able to put any true effort into any of the endeavors that my heart desire's to accomplish. It's easy to sit here and type and think
"Tomorrow will be different.
Tomorrow I'll come home from work and I'll do (xyz) for my business.
And then I'll do up the few dishes out there.
And I'll go for a walk, just a short walk around the block.
And I'll read my Bible at lunch instead of playing on facebook.
And tomorrow I'll start anew.
I'll start fresh.
I'll turn over a new leaf.
And things will be different."
But there are two problems. Those thoughts don't help me get through tonight. And when tomorrow gets here, tomorrow won't be any different than today.
I won't do anything for my business because I'm terrified that I'll start a little bit of momentum on a good day or two and will lose it and lose all credibility when I crash and burn again in a few days or a week.
I won't do the dishes, because nothing smells and I have lots of spoons.
I won't walk because it will be too hot out.
And at lunch I will want nothing more than to turn off my brain for an hour and I will play on facebook instead.
Tomorrow won't be new.
Tomorrow won't be fresh.
The only new leaf I'll see tomorrow will be the one on my plant.
The odds are almost certain that tomorrow will be exactly like today. Except I will have to work and won't get to spend an entire afternoon reading.
And the worst part about this is that in my heart of heart's I don't believe life should be this hard. I don't believe this is how life is supposed to be. I don't desire for my life to be this way. But in the moment by moment, day by day living this is what it is. Which is why I'm seeking professional help. I am at the end of my options. I don't believe, have never believed in fact, that this is anything I caused, anything I can fix, anything I did anything to deserve. But be that as it may, I am at the end of the options I know of. Waiting it out isn't working.
I'm not willing to get beat down by the naysayers and Judgmentals to a point where I have a full blown breakdown before getting help. I have a choice. I am making a stand. I am not willing, at this time, in this moment to take that chance. In innumerable ways I have an amazing and wonderful life. And just because I can't see the joy in it doesn't mean I can't acknowledge what I do have. And I'm not willing to let the voices around me speak loudly or strongly enough to deter me from asking for help when I know in my bones that I need outside help.
I can picture at least one person in my church and what I believe her response would be. And I have no particular reason to believe this would be her response, but hers is the face in my mind. And that is the crap solution that so many of us struggling with this evil, evil thing are told to do. And it's bull. Because no bible study in this world is going to solve this problem. Because all the prayer in this country won't make me well. Because all the faith and forgiveness won't lift the weight.
Hear me out, please. Stop telling us to try this bible study. Stop asking if we've prayed. Stop asking if we have doubts. Stop telling us we "must" have hidden sin somewhere. it's bull!
Because most of us never stop praying!!! Never stop begging for relief and strength to get through another day. Pleading for the weight to lift. Doubting why we aren't getting healed. Examining ad nauseum everything we have ever said or done to anyone to look for those Magic Words that will make this go away.
So please. please stop acting like we are stupid or ignorant or blind. God gave us insulin for a reason. Yes, sometimes people get miraculously, instantaneously healed. But even more often you get an organ transplant as an answer to prayer.
Don't you think that if we could simply Pull Ourselves Up By Our Boostraps and be better, we would??
Now, stop comparing us to those incredibly few, rare people who choose a disease or have a disease and use it as their excuse for anything and everything. We all know those people, we've all heard stories about those people.
I am not those people.
If I had breast cancer, would you hand me a bible study?
If I had diabetes, would you tell me to pray more?
If I had Multiple Sclerosis, would you tell me to search for a secret sin?
If I had 60/140 vision, would you tell me to have more faith and doubt less?
From my perspective, that is how ridiculous you sound. I am at wits end. I am tired. And tired of feeling heavy and sad and empty 99% of the time. I believe there is help available to me. And I am going to avail myself of that help. My hope and prayer in sharing this is simple.
Don't judge me.
Don't judge anyone else struggling with any level of Depression.
Don't decide for me whether or not medication is appropriate.
Don't suggest to me that I try positive thoughts, or *this* bible study, or prayer, or whatever.
Don't tell me to just do something, anything!
It's annoying. And unhelpful.
Because on the other side.
On the other side are smiles that last for days.
And laughter that echoes for weeks.
And business that flourishes.
And relationships that deepen.
On the other side
is a NY Times Best Selling book.
It's just waiting to be written.
I just hope I can get there to do the writing.