May 4, 2010 in Deeper Than Down
I have finally come out of a deep, dark, nasty smelling pile of depression. Each time I go through one of these spells, which can last from a couple of days to a couple of months, I generally get the same questions while I am in the depression. The questions I am asked are annoying to say the least, and for anyone who has experienced depression of any kind, (situational or clinical–I suffer from the latter, and sometimes the former) I am sure that you can relate to how much it sucks to have to answer these questions over and over again.
Generally these questions are asked by people who have no idea whatsoever what depression even is. Aside from the 3rd question, which can be a valid question–but trying to come up with an answer for that question when many times there is no plausible answer is very frustrating.
I thought it might be interesting for some if I try to answer the top three most often asked questions I am asked when depressed below. But first I want to make it clear to all of my dear friends on Facebook who may be reading this, that I do not include you in the list of people who ask me these questions. You all are are a shining light in the midst of my dark times, and I love you for that. Nor are the kind of people in my life who do ask these questions asking them with any kind of malice. They just do not understand that these questions, while sometimes legitimate, are just plain annoying and frustrating after 10 years of trying to come up with a satisfactory answer for them when I have no satisfactory answer to give.
1) “What do you have to be depressed about?”
This question is usually backed up with a list of things/attributes that I posses which “should” keep me from getting/being depressed. This question is also usually asked by people who have absolutely NO idea what depression is about. They are generally acquaintances who don’t know me very well, and sometimes distant family members who just don’t get it.
I am (by many standards) attractive, I am slender, I have a solid roof over my head and food on the table, I am smart, I have nice clothes, I have a supportive family, etc, etc…..I am VERY grateful for these things, but when depressed, remembering to be grateful is very difficult.
All of those things are nice and whatnot, but when I am depressed, none of that matters. First of all, I don’t feel any of those things–I don’t feel pretty, or thin, or loved, or smart. Second of all, I would rather be a fat, ugly, dumb homeless person with no one who cares about me than be depressed. Seriously. Furthermore, all of these “wonderful” things that I have don’t make a shred of difference when it comes to my happiness. Being pretty is worthless when I feel worthless. Being smart is worthless when I feel hopeless. Being thin is worthless when I feel like bricks are hanging from every part of my body. Having nice clothes is worthless when all I wear are PJ’s or sweats and don’t want to leave the “comfort” of my bed. Having a wonderful and supportive group of friends and family feels worthless when I feel like so desperately alone and lost. Having food on the table is worthless when I don’t want to eat anyway. It all just feels like a big fat waste. A dark hole from which I cannot climb out of, no matter how many people are willing to help me.
Yet the help I receive from everyone – from my parents to my Facebook friends – makes all the difference in the world, and probably keeps me alive on occasion.
2) “Can’t you just snap out of it for a day?”
NO. NO, NO, NO, NOOOOOOOO! I CANNOT SNAP OUT OF IT. There is not much else to say about that aside for NO. I realize that I miss out on many opportunities in life because of my depression (which can actually worsen the depression), but I can’t snap out of it and plaster a smile on my face when my insides are crying. It sucks. I would give anything to be able to snap out of it. But it just does not work that way. It’s like asking a cancer patient to just snap out of their illness and be healthy. Generally I just have to ride it out and hold on to any shreds of hope that it will go away sooner rather than later.
And it always does go away, that is the silver lining. It usually takes longer than I would like, and it always comes back at some point, but the breaks in between my depression are great. They are times when I feel. And feeling is a great thing. Even sadness is OK when it does not come with depression. During these times I am the person I want to be. A good friend; a good person.
3) “Why are you depressed?”
This is perhaps the most annoying question of all when I am depressed, but also sometimes valid, as there are times when I know why I am depressed. But more often than not, I don’t know why other than the chemicals in my brain don’t work right.
So many people think that there has to be are reason, but the worst thing about clinical depression is that there is generally no rhyme or reason to it. It just happens. Sometimes there is a trigger that is easy to recognize (ie: a death in the family). But generally, I can’t give a list of reasons for why I feel depressed. Shit happens. Depression happens. And it sucks. If I knew why I was depressed, I probably wouldn’t be depressed, as I could do something about the “why.” But that is rarely the case.
It is a black void that envelops me sometimes when least expected. One day I can be fine and dandy, the next day, I can barely force myself to get out of bed. So why I get depressed is usually a mystery to me and those around me aside from knowing that the chemicals in my brain do not work the way they do in a person who does not suffer from clinical depression. Anti-depressants help this, but they are not foolproof nor are they a cure. There is no real cure for depression aside from doing my best to keep depression at bay through medication, therapy and lifestyle choices.
The bottom line here is that depression is an ugly beast. It takes away so many things from my life. My hope, my sense of worth, my self-confidence/esteem. It has robbed me of opportunities and friends. It has beat me down so low that death seemed like the only answer. When I am depressed, I could have 50 loving, caring, and understanding people around me, and I would most likely still feel very alone. It shames me into thinking that I am not good enough for the world. Not good enough for my parents. Shame and loneliness are possibly the worst two components of my depression.
Not to mention that when it attacks, it comes with symptoms that take me out of society. I can’t sleep, I can’t organize my thoughts, I lose things, sometimes, I feel like I can’t even breathe. Everyday tasks are overwhelming and daunting. Brushing my teeth feels like running a marathon. Taking a shower is like completing a triathlon. Everything just feels too difficult. Trying to get dressed in something aside from sweats is more difficult that most can imagine. Life and it’s obligations feel too difficult and overwhelming. I feel like the world hates me, and that I am not worthy of the things that I do have. Not worthy of the support that I desperately need, not worthy of the love that I receive from various places. Not even worthy of the air I breathe.
Hope is fleeting in my life, as when I am depressed, hope dashes away from me like a skittish cat running from a barking dog. I have no hope for me, for the world, for anything. But somehow, over the years, I have learned to grasp onto that last bit of hope before it dashes out of me when I start to feel a depression coming on. That is part of what keeps me alive through times like I just experienced. I have stopped feeling sorry for myself, as I have learned that my pity parties do me no good and only fuel my depression.
I just hold onto as much hope as I possibly can, and try to borrow some from others.
I hope that someday I will be able to handle life and its ups and downs better and better. I hope that someday people who do not suffer from depression will understand better how awful depression can feel. I hope that more research goes into finding newer and better treatments for people like me. I hope that I will live a life that has meaning. I hope that my life has wonderful things that I can’t even imagine in store for me. Most of all, I hope that the deep, deep darkness that is so dark that it can be lethal, never, ever comes back.
I know that I will probably battle with depression for my entire existence, but I hope that someday my depression will take a back seat to a wonderful – and full – life.
Image via washingtonindependent.com