Like millions of others, I suffer from bouts of depression. They ebb and surge regularly, and leave me feeling like nothing matters, “what’s the point?”, I’m worthless, blah, blah, blah. All lies that our chemically imbalanced brains like to tell us when we’re feeling at a particular low point.
There are some days I have to push myself to get out of bed. To do any of the things that need done. To deal with the kids without getting angry. When I’m at a low, their laughter and joy annoys me. Saddens me. How I wish I could be as carefree and happy as my 5 and 7 year olds! No bills to fret about, no money woes, no marital stress, no personal doubts, no worries whatsoever.
I envy their freedom. They spend their days playing, using their imaginations, and enjoying themselves. I feel guilty if I try to do something that’s just for me. Reading, writing, crocheting, painting, anything that doesn’t feel “useful” just seems like a waste of time.
I’m not sure when this change in attitude started, but I’ve been conditioned to feel like I must be doing SOMETHING USEFUL every moment. There’s always laundry or cleaning that needs done, and we always need more money, and part of me feels like I’m shirking my responsibilities if I do something that “wastes” that time.
To self-psycho-analyze this, it’s because I don’t feel like I’m worth spending time on. The family and income-producing work is more important than any enjoyment I may experience from these non-essential activities.
I’m an introvert, and have no close friends in real life. I’m also not overly active online in a social manner. (Anyone who’s friends with me on Facebook can vouch for that.) That intensifies when I’m at a low point. I lurk, scrolling past all the smiling selfies of people who have better lives than me. They all seem so much happier, more content, more fulfilled. They have friends who understand them and want to get together and have fun. They have the opportunity to pursue their dreams, their interests. They’re out living life and enjoying themselves.
Regardless of how it may seem, I am not jealous. I don’t sit and fester because of their better standing in life. I mostly feel sad for myself. It’s not the things (the vacations, new cars, etc), it’s the overall vibe. The feeling that they GET IT. They know who they are, and can allow themselves the time to explore their interests and be who they were meant to be. They know what makes them happy and go for it.
I wish I could be like that. I was never what you would call confident. I never felt I was ever really that important, or that anything I did was all that special. Nothing remarkable. A “no one would notice if I disappeared tomorrow” type of thing.
I still feel that way today, for the most part. If I disappeared tomorrow, would anyone really notice? Oh my kids would miss me, for a while anyway, but other than that? What point does my existing serve? Have I ever had an impact on anyone’s life? My one goal is to try and leave the world a little better than I found it. Have I done that?
Despite what it may sound like, I’m not suicidal. I never have been. I don’t self-harm. Not terribly, anyway. At most, I go at my eyebrows a bit too much—resulting in bald brow areas. I tend to chew on my cheeks and tongue when I’m stressed, causing sores. Bad habits I can’t seem to break.
My pit is not as deep and dark as some. I sink for a while, dragged down by self-doubt, guilt, fear, and uncertainty. Then I slowly surface. I can never cast off those anchors, not fully, but sometimes their hold on me lessens, just enough to breathe a bit easier. Eventually their chains tighten again, and I sink once more. It’s a painful cycle.
I’m being overly-dramatic. I recognize that. I know these self-degrading thoughts aren’t true, and I’m just letting the depression overwhelm me and drag my mental and emotional state down into a pit of darkness. But knowing something logically and dealing with it emotionally are two different things.
I debated even writing this, let alone posting it. I don’t want pity. I don’t want sympathy. I just want understanding. I want to put this out there, so others who struggle with depression can see that these feelings aren’t unique. And they’re not real. Our brains are lying to us, fooling us into thinking the worst. Convincing us that we’re in the middle of some dark ocean, with no salvation in sight.
There IS hope. There IS help. Let others see the hurt. The darkness. Let them help. Seek it yourself. Don’t let it drag you down. DEPRESSION LIES.
As for me, I’ll be okay. I work through it. I write personal journals, purging my negative thoughts, fears, and frustrations onto the page. And I cry when I can. That helps.
And I keep on, keeping on. Look forward. Keep moving.
Because eventually, that big dark ocean will shrink back down to a puddle. The chains will loosen. And I can move a little more freely for a while.