By now everyone has read that depression can physically hurt, it can be exhausting, it can cause insomnia, and a multitude of other uncomfortable verbs. Depression is… we don’t ask for it. I know that I am no alone in this. We, the depressives, are actually a rather big club, but we don’t advertise very often. Membership comes at a great cost to us and to our loved ones. Our loved ones feel helpless even when we explain there is literally nothing they can do to make it better. The most they can do is acknowledge that depression exists, and let us know they are there for us if we need them. We can be reminded to eat, sleep or get up, or take our meds; but ultimately, we are the ones who have to make it better by doing what works for each of us in the moment.
Over the years I have learned that my depression is mostly triggered by situations and seasons. I don’t know if I am the only one, but I can recognize when I am on the road to a depressive period. There is that defining moment after struggling to stay balanced when I know that I have temporarily lost my battle with biochemistry. My mouth goes dry and I taste silvery, wrinkled, tinfoil. Really, no matter what I eat or drink, I return to the taste of chewing gum wrapper only worse metal. I wonder if I’m the only one.
The situations vary for me but the seasonal depression is well, seasonal, and as a result, more predictable. I actually start brushing up on my coping skills when everyone is pulling out their boxes of holiday decorations. While everyone is getting into that holiday spirit (or pretending to be) I am doing whatever I can to wake up each day. My seasonal depression can be sneaky. It might arrive before Thanksgiving, but always before my birthday in December and sticks around well into January. I get the fun of a summer depression too, around the death date of my best friend, which coincides with one of the hottest months in Texas.
On the more normal side, if there is such a thing as normal symptoms for depression, I become narcoleptic, never able to get enough sleep in an effort to just shut it all out. On the flip side, I might have a bout of disturbed sleep, waking up and unable to really go back to sleep, unable to stop the wheels from spinning. Staring at the alarm clock dreading the moments knowing I should be sleeping since I actually have to function during the day instead of pulling the sheets over my head.
So what works for me when I’m in the darkest depths of depression? I read, I write and I take not too warm baths or showers, and now I try to share what it is like to be a depressive. I think that speaking out about it helps me have power over it. Most people never recognize my depression because I work hard to cope. I leave my depression outside when I enter work and I literally put a smile on my face because it really does bring calm energy. I mindfully walk, type and breathe. I focus on the fact that the best thing I have ever done in my life needs his Mom and the reason I somehow live through those lonely moments of depression in a crowded room. I know each day my son will make me smile, even through the deepest depths of any depressive day. To see that sparkle in his eyes and to hear his laugh is truly magical healing.
P.S. I read a blog entry by one of my fav bloggers, Jenny Lawson aka The bloggess, about depression: http://thebloggess.com/2012/01/the-fight-goes-on/). She has a Silver Ribbon and is raising funds for charity by offering pendants and buttons with the message, “Never Give Up”.