Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Again, On Depression

The thing about depression is that it never really goes away.  Once you've had depression/been depressed (however you want to refer to it), that depression will always be a part of you.

I've struggled with depression since I was a little girl.  I was 5 years old and dreaming of the walls closing in on me, waking just before I was flattened into an Azia-pancake, gasping for air, crying and wishing I had never been born.  Obviously, being only 5 years old, I had no idea that what I was feeling was a depression.  I was in kindergarten!  Depression has been with me for at least 23 years, sometimes that's a hard pill to swallow.

I remember fighting with God at that early age, I was sad so sad.  I thought that God couldn't possibly be real & if he was: I was clearly not one of his people because he didn't care about me at all.  I would cry out to him, Why did you put me on this planet?  Why can't you just take me back?  I don't want to be here.  I wish I wasn't alive.  He never answered me, or so I thought.  I'm sure it was his gentle hand that lead me through each day, Him that calmed my heart enough so that I was able to fall back asleep.

That's some deep stuff for a little kid to battle, no wonder I was such a little weirdo.  Seriously, I was such a weirdo.  Growing up, it was the books that saved me.  I read from dawn until dusk.  Getting lost in the stories of other peoples lives.  I even kept at notebook, writing before I could really write.

I was reading at a college level in second grade and was pulled out of my classes for special lessons; which lead to lots & lots of bullying.  Which made my depression worse.  Already feeling strange, and sad, and then being teased for the one thing that truly brought me joy did not do much for my self confidence.

It's terrible: but I've never identified with a fictional character, like I do with April Wheeler from Revolutionary Road.

I've previously written about my tendency to make depression an idol & I've really gone out of my way to keep myself from being held hostage by this lingering cloud that seems to darken even the sunniest of days sometimes.  That's exactly what I'm saying when I say depression never really leaves you: it's not something that can be cured, it can only be managed.  And, sometimes, like all things, it wants to crawl out of it's cage and breathe.  But, you must learn to tame the beast or it will destroy you.

It's cyclic, depression-you  feel good, feel great, feel really great, feel alright, feel off, feel sad, feel really freaking sad, feel okay, feel good, feel better than good, feel great, feel really great...  and then back to the pits.  Some stages last longer than others.  You could go from feeling low to feeling great in one day, and stay great for days, weeks, months or vice versa. It's quite unpredictable.  And, usually once you think you've figured out your "cycle", it goes and changes it up on you.
If it was the 1800's- we'd all be crazy. Source
Nowadays, there are a plethora of things you can do to manage all of the sadness: therapy, medication, service to others & now my go-to: constant communication with God.  But, you have to realize something: with depression you will never be "cured"- if you are searching for a cure, just stop.  The only thing you can do is learn how manage and minimize the depression.

Me?  Well I take a small dose of Zoloft (because, let's be real: what kind of 5 year old has depression?  Probably one whose brain doesn't quite work right), I stay in The Word & seek out communion with other believers, I openly discuss my struggles with my closest friends and family (Sarah (Atheist, I might add) & Garrett are my safest of places, among a few others), and I've decided it's time for me to give therapy one more shot because I feel I have a lot of work that needs to be done in a certain area that I can't seem to move past.  I think abuse is like depression, it never really leaves you: you just have to learn to exist with it.  I need therapy to help show me the tools needed to do this successfully.

There is an awesome TEDtalk from Andrew Solomon called "Depression: The Secret We Share" - Sarah sent this to me back in January and it really brought a unique perspective to both managing depression and understanding that it's okay to stay on medication for life.

 - one of my favorite lines from the talk is "Shutting out the depression strengthens it. While you hide from it, it grows. And the people who do better are the ones who are able to tolerate the fact that they have this condition. Those who can tolerate their depression are the ones who achieve resilience."

But, that is exactly it: don't shut it out: but don't make it an idol-- just acknowledge, do what you can to manage and be strengthened through it.  I know that I would not be the person I am today without realizing my need for God.  I know that isn't the case for everyone, as I have many Atheist friends.  But, I couldn't imagine dealing with this hole in my heart, without having God to ask for peace and strength.  There is this song that is often my anthem on my hard days: I will rage and cry and feel joy while I listen to it:

There are days that nothing works.  Where the "Yellow Wallpaper" seems like a reality.  But, it's just a phase.  It will pass.  Sometimes I have to fake it, smile, and go through the motions.  Because, soon enough the cycle will begin and I will be fine.

I've asked this before: but, Dear Readers: do any of you struggle with depression?  Or know someone who does? What do you do to manage the rain clouds?  


  1. I've had depression for years. I can't remember how long I've had it, but I've actually realized I had it when I was 15 and didn't want to go to sleep because it would seem like the next day arrived even sooner and I wasn't ready to face it. Half of my family was (and still would be if I allowed communication) abusive, I was bullied almost all of my school life (especially 7th grade), and I've gone through a couple tragic life events that I can't even discuss without breaking down. I wanted to die but I was worried that God would be angry at me if I did it on purpose. I wanted to go to Heaven to be happy, not Hell (because honestly, who wants to go there?). I'm okay now. I've learned to take it one day at a time and to keep myself out of triggering situations, if possible. When I need support, I go to one of my friends who understand or to my boyfriend. I talk. I breath. I remember what my mom told me: You don't get over it, you get through it, but you have to keep fighting.

    Most of all, I remember that if I don't at least try to do something great with my life, then I'll be letting somebody far more important than myself down. And I just can't do that.

  2. Oh I know that cycle well. I think of it like a giant roulette wheel in my brain where there's only five variations of spaces that are "super depressed," "generally depressed," "manageably depressed," "feeling normal," and "what the heck is this, what's my mouth doing, is that a smile?" This roulette wheel is also in my brain, which means it's also in a child's bouncy castle so the time the ball spends in any one space is tenuous and brief.
    I've gotten better at managing it since I started calling my depression "Ike Turner" and treat it like Tina does in that limo scene. Ike has beaten me (Tina) one too many times and now I (Tina) am not taking that crap anymore.
    Good luck to you and everyone else with their management of this crappy condition.

  3. I'm a big fan of better living through chemistry. Frankly, I'm a big fan of whatever helps you get through the day, provided you aren't hurting yourself or others. I have many friends and family members who struggle with depression, and they each have a different coping mechanism. Some appear to work better than others, but who am I to judge?

  4. I don't suffer from depression but I do have a very good friend who does. She works for a mental health organization and from time to time, she writes about her battles with it on her blog. The best that I can do for her when it's kicking in is to offer moral support (she lives on the west coast and I live on the east) and be a sounding board for her from time to time.

    Father Nature's Corner


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