What My Depression Tells Me

I, like 350 million other humans on this planet (according to WHO), suffer from depression.

I never really identified with this label before as my main label is anxiety, but usually if you have anxiety, depression isn't far behind.  But around 18 months ago I realized that my depression is a much more major part of my life than I thought, and not just something relegated to fleeting situational issues.

I knew I have SAD (seasonal affective disorder), but after winter of 2017 and my depression didn't let up, I then realized it was worse than I thought.

I sometimes have great days.  Days like today (somewhat) where I can get so much done.  I did my dishes, used weed killer on my horrible weeds outside (a remnant of my last depressive episode, where I let my yard go to shit), did two loads of laundry and hung them up on the line (and put up a new clothesline), washed my dog several times (don't ask), and now I am doing some blogging.  Today is a good day.

But on my bad days, none of those things get done, and I am usually stuck on my couch (and on some really bad days, I go to my room and go to bed) all day long, watching Netflix or whatever I can find. On those days, my depression fills my head with all sorts of ideas (or actually, lies).  It has me believing that I am worthless.  That my existence is worthless.  That everything I do is worthless.  Or that my family hates me.  That my friends hate me.  This line of thinking would lead me into a spiral of negative thoughts and cause me to deactivate all my social media accounts so I could hide from everyone who hates me.  I would then hide away from my computer and acted like it didn't exist and would turn my ringer off on my phone.  I'd hibernate from life and spend all my time living in the worlds of others in my favorite TV shows.  I still do the latter, but I no longer worry about social media that much.  I learned that having less friends on my accounts stopped me from comparing my life to theirs, which wasn't a realistic representation of real life anyways, but when depression sets in, you not only believe your own lies, but the lies of those around you as well.  You let their wonderful looking lives and their happy experiences lead you to believe their lives are always like that.  Also to be left wondering if those other people were so happy, why weren't they including you in their lives?  Because then you could be that happy too.  But the truth is, those pictures are only moments.  And most people only share their happy moments, as sharing that you spent the day binge-watching Friends or The Good Wife while feeling miserable is seen as socially unacceptable.

Depression not only lies, but it cheats, it steals, it robs, and it kills.  If depression were a person, it would be in prison for life with no chance of parole.  That's the thing, isn't it?  Depression is a prison.  And it wants you there with it.  It wants you to suffer like it does, so you can feel what it feels.  It doesn't want to be alone.  Depression reminds me of "No Face" from the anime movie Spirited AwayNo Face is an invisible spirit until someone gives him attention.  And the more attention he gets, the more he wants.  And the more you feed him, the more gluttonous he becomes and the more angry he becomes, until he consumes everything around him, taking up all the space allowable.  That's exactly how depression works: the more you feed it, the bigger and hungrier it becomes, until there's nothing left except the depression.  It's only when one takes control (like the main character did in the movie), does it lessen and go back to normal.  Not that it's an easy thing to do, of course.  There's a difference between knowing what the answer is and figuring out how to implement a plan to get to that answer, especially when what you're trying to recover from is what is holding you prisoner in the first place.

The worst thing my depression ever lied to me about was to lead me to believe that I'd better off dead.  Also that my family would be better off without me.  My anxiety was so bad and out of control, that I thought death would better than trying to fight it anymore.  I wasn't suicidal, I was more like "If I happen to die today, that would be a good thing."  I never once asked for help during this time, either.  I figured I deserved to feel this way.  My ex had recently taken me to court to put my children in school, even though I'd been homeschooling them for years.  He made me feel like I was somehow hurting my children by homeschooling them, that I was failing them as a teacher and as a mother.  Except for the fact that when my kids got into school, they got straight A's and were on the honor roll for the whole year.  So I was definitely doing something right.  But my depression listened to my ex and had me believe that I had failed them.  And my penance was to be stuck alone in a three-story house all alone for 6+ hours a day.

I got so bad that walking home after dropping them off was torture.  I couldn't even drive around the block on rainy days without having severe panic attacks to take them to school.  I did it.  But I felt like dying the entire time.  When I was alone, my thoughts invaded every single thing I did.  I was like a zombie.  Never once did I reach out to get meds (which I desperately needed) or see a doctor.  I just thought this was it.  This how it would be forever.  But then it wasn't forever.  The school year came to a close, I had made friends with the principal and both my kids' teachers.  I went on field trips with them.  I attended every function, like the honor roll luncheon each quarter.  I was praised on being a great mother who was involved in their children's lives, and a great educator because my kids knew more than any other kid in their classes.  My kids were all the teacher's favorites, even teachers who weren't theirs.  My kids LOVED learning, something they wouldn't have had if they had been in traditional schools their entire lives (which they used to be, and cared more about messing around than learning).  And my oldest was a social butterfly.  My youngest was tortured by school, even though he did a great job at it.  He couldn't tolerate social situations and refused to speak at school, except to a couple kids he felt comfortable with.  But upon seeing, for the most part, how well they did, my depression lessened.  I became a part of their community, and took my puppy to school each day to walk them home, and we became a very popular family who had the "cute puppy" LOL  By the time summer came around, my depression was gone.  And when they went back to school the next year (new schools), I was fine.  I thrived on being alone.  As a writer, I had all the time in the world to get my books done.  But then my kids started failing, having really hard times, and begged me to homeschool them again.  My oldest has ADHD and aspergers and youngest's aspergers was causing horrible issues for him once again at school.  So back to homeschooling we went, and never approached the subject of traditional school again.

But that year, those nine months of having to deal with my depression for the first time alone in my life, was an eye opener.  I never thought I had depression.  I thought anxiety was what I was afflicted with and only anxiety.  But, as it turns out, I had had depression my entire life.  I just didn't know how to recognize it.  I just thought I had low self-esteem or something of the sort.  But depression is a liar that makes you have low self-esteem, because it tells you that you are a failure all the time.  That you aren't good enough or that you are detrimental to those around you.  And you believe it.  Even if there is proof otherwise.

I am super great at hiding my anxiety and depression, too.  Always have been.  Growing up, I had to hide it to appear normal, because that's all you were allowed to be in my family.  My mother was not well-versed in mental illness (even though she's severely mentally ill), so she'd make fun of my anxiety or tell me "get over it" or roll her eyes when she could see I was hurting.  She was not caring, loving, or helpful in any way about my issues, so I had to be normal to please her.  She's stunted, as so many people are, in a childlike state of denial, which not only includes herself, but everyone around her.  They can't understand us, those that experience these things.  They can't see past their own beliefs of how they want things to be.  And that usually means being perfect, or as close as you can to being their version of perfect (which can change at a moment's notice).  So we learn, as sufferers of mental illness, to fake it.  We try to do what we can to please those around us so they treat us better.  And that means denial of our own mental health.  Which is probably what they had to do too, which is why they are the way they are.

But we don't have to be like that.  We don't have to live in denial.  We can look at our issues and get diagnoses and become educated on those diagnoses so we can better understand ourselves and those around us.  We can be better than those who do not understand.

My depression tries to tell me that I am worthless.  Or that I am flawed or imperfect, or awful.  But now that I know more about what's going on, what it really tells me is that I am human.  That I am understanding of these parts of myself and others.  That I am capable of loving myself, even when I don't feel normal.  And to learn to be okay with stepping back and taking a rest when I need to.  Because nobody is perfect.  Nor should we be forced to believe we need to be.  My ex didn't understand my mental illness.  My parents didn't.  Neither does my entire family.  Or their friends.  But my kids do.  Because I raised them to.  I showed them the love and caring I never got as a child when their mental health took over their lives.  I showed them that they aren't worthless.  That they are human, just like everyone else.  And there's nothing shameful about having a mental illness.  And they, in turn, show me the same love and understanding, as they will their own spouses and children one day.  And I married a wonderful man who also understands and supports us through our mental health crises.

My oldest takes meds for his anxiety and depression and he's doing amazing.  My husband also takes meds for depression (he hasn't found the right dosage yet, but soon he will!).  My youngest uses coping skills to handle his, as do I. 

Everyone has some sort of mental illness.  Even if they pretend they don't.  My own mother has severe depression and anxiety herself, and now take meds for them both.  Although she still doesn't acknowledge mine or her role in making mine worse, but that's okay.  I take care of myself enough to not need her understanding.

If you feel suicidal or in need of help, please DO NOT HESITATE to call the suicide hotline!!  If my friend had, she'd still be alive today.  So please, do not hesitate to call:


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