A, Not OK

I feel sad, and hurt, angry, scared, numb, like I want to sleep, I want a hug, or maybe a drink. I want to rage and cry and none of that will solve anything.

This was the first real attempt, actions instead of just words. Still don’t know if you succeeded but at least I didn’t find you dead. It’ll be a long night and even if you’re mad about this I will defend my reaction. I’d rather lose a friend because I fought to save their life than to lose one to death.

Tidal Wave

I occasionally touch on the topics of depression and anxiety, they are not strangers to me (or to most people I suspect) but I tend to have a pretty good grip on my battle with them.

Except when I don’t.

After the US presidential election I tried to calm myself down and rationalize. I tried to focus on other things. I tried to remain positive and hopeful. The key word is tried. I tried and I failed harder than I ever have on the battlegrounds before.

I felt like I was in a boss fight (video game references will be used in this analogy) and I’d not only run out of teammates who could restore HP but I’d run out of potions to cure my failing health and the attacks just kept coming with no time to heal. KO, game over, cue the end music of defeat.

I’ve lost the majority of my favorite (most loved) people and all my safety nets, my house reminds me daily of my loss, changes at work were stressing me out, my immediate family is struggling, the values I hold dear are under attack and the future of the planet’s ability to sustain human life continues to grow more vulnerable. I no longer have a partner to face the world with and it’s unlikely I will ever have children. I simply couldn’t convince myself there was anything worth sticking around for. I would go to sleep and think “please don’t let me wake up” and each morning when I did wake up I just wanted to cry even more.

Logically I knew/know I have a lot of amazing things going for me. I have the best support network a person could ask for, I have a team that I love and loves me at work (the stress wasn’t related to my team), I have a house worth vastly more than the mortgage, I have an enviable skillset and generally good health. None of that mattered when I was in the harshest vice grip depression ever got on me. I gave zero fucks about any of it. I was as numb as one could get, sociopathic levels of lack of feeling.  I couldn’t get out and even the anxiety that triggered was a shadow of itself, paling in darkness of that pit.

I’m not even entirely sure how I broke free. I am still operating under extreme caution. Still mostly numb but more functional. Little snippets of feeling seeping back in, the smile doesn’t seem as forced. My resignation was not accepted, the show must go on…apparently.

I don’t know what the future holds, I do know that I am far more concerned and invested in the outcome than I had let on.

Did the election have this kind of effect on anyone else?

You Definitely Have A Problem

I’ve occasionally mentioned my brother. He has been riding that grief train pretty hardcore since his daughter died back in 2014. He won’t get off and he won’t admit that his refusal to deal with it has created an opportunity for depression and addiction to slide on in and take up permanent residence. He drinks, he smokes, he gambles, he pops pills, he lost his job from a dui, he smashed his truck driving in a blackout state totaling it, he trashes our mother’s house, he rarely showers and apparently now can’t be bothered to walk the 20ft over to the bathroom so he pees in empty plastic bottles which he then leaves sitting around. Yeah this is all pretty standard behavior right? He’ll keep telling you he doesn’t have a  problem. I wish that there was a way to force him into treatment. Right now I feel like I don’t have a brother anymore, just a guy who looks like an unhealthy version of someone who was my brother.

He won’t change until he wants to change and he doesn’t want to change. I feel bad for my mom who won’t kick him out.

Depression alone is a terrible thing to live with, depression coupled with addiction…I hope I never have to experience that first hand, it’s hard enough just to watch him take the slow path of suicide he’s on.

Wish there was an easy solution to this.

 

The Pit

Taking that trip down to Florida to spread the ashes of my late ex-husband along various southern Atlantic beaches had a much larger and longer impact than I had anticipated.

I didn’t expect to cry when I did it. I cried. I didn’t expect to feel sad. I felt really sad. I thought I would enjoy being in Florida, I couldn’t wait to get home. I thought I would feel better when I did get home. I felt worse.

I can normally stave off depression and I keep the majority of the negative emotions and grief tightly walled off so that I can function from day to day. If I do get overwhelmed with low feelings I acknowledge them, allow them some time (usually no more than 2 days) and then I work on bringing my mood back up by focusing on all the positive things that happen and spending time with my amazing support network. This time the effort needed was more than I had. I couldn’t pull myself up and I watched the days tick by feeling trapped down in that awful pit that I hate.

I didn’t want to hang out with people (even though I forced myself to) and I didn’t want to clean, run errands, update WP, read, eat or generally anything other than sleep. I was quiet and withdrawn and it was frustrating to not be able to counter it so anxiety got added to depression and soon 3 days had passed, then 4 and 5 and before I knew it the weekend had come round again with beautiful weather and I could barely bring myself to get out of bed and attend a massage therapy appointment I had scheduled. My friend came over and I couldn’t think of things to talk about, could barely make dinner and all the time a part of me was screaming “snap out of this!!!!! you know why you’re sad, you don’t need to feel like this” all to no avail. It’s the first time in a long time that I couldn’t turn things around within a couple days and I didn’t like it one bit.

The stress of grief and certain setbacks, coupled with one too many people in my life casually making references to killing themselves, knocked me down and it took until last night before I could rally. I’m grateful I could rally though, even if it took longer than I anticipated. Depression sucks. I’m lucky that I can deal with it without needing medications. I try not to think about a day where I can’t rally, where I lose the ability to override those voices that try to tell me I don’t matter. I’d like to think that day will never come. This past week makes it harder to believe that though.

I hope you’ve all had a much better week than I did.

 

Depression Dependants

Husband is caught in the pit of depression. I can see him down there, hanging out with my mom. We were all down there together but I couldn’t stand it and clawed my way up.

It’s dangerous down in that hole of negativity. There’s a cold sense of comfort that comes from wrapping yourself up in misery. Nothing good left to lose. No rug to pull out from under you. Slow death disguised as coping.

The problem is that while I might not be stuck at the bottom with hubby and the momma I am still dangerously close to the edge. Depression is like a large black hole that is constantly trying to suck everything else into it. It takes immense strength to pull yourself out of it and almost as much strength, if not more, to keep from getting sucked back in.

I see them imprisoned down there but am not strong enough to lend them a hand to pull them up. I don’t think they’d take the hand even if I could offer it. Their presence down in it adds to the gravitational pull of the depression. Makes it that much harder to stay out of the pit. The negativity is contagious even to the strongest positive immune systems.

I don’t know how to motivate them to fight their way out of this. I know I can’t carry them but I feel guilty about it. I know logically I shouldn’t feel guilty but that doesn’t stop me from wrestling with it. Part of me want to distance myself until I can build up my reserves but I am more afraid to leave them alone.

I wish there was a magic phrase or action that could inspire them to want to challenge the hold depression has on them but I know from experience that each person’s battle is unique to them and their motivators will be different. What works for me doesn’t work for them. They feel safe in their negative blankets, they’ve bought into the lies whispered at them from the recesses of their minds. The self-fulfilling prophecies of pessimism reinforcing their belief that they deserve to suffer.

Battling depression is so much harder if you’re surrounded by willing participants.

Where Did I Go?

I used to spend most of my time out socializing, having random adventures, creating memories. I have this deep well of experiences that I can draw upon in times of stress or self-pity. Lately, I feel like I have let life continue around me while I try to lose myself in Netflix stored television series as a way to block out all the things in my life that I am not happy about. Occasionally I will go out and create new memories to add to my collection, but mostly I am trying to pass the time as quickly and effortlessly as possible. It means my depression levels are extremely high again, it means I am back on the edge and I won’t know how tenuous my hold on stability is until I have dragged myself back away from the deep chasm of destructive emotions. Years ago, when antidepressants were not a viable option, I trained myself to use apathy to compartmentalized my depression. I would keep it locked away and ignore it. This tactic allowed me to continue getting up each morning and going to work, allowed me to complete college and even allowed me to engage with others in a social environment. It took a huge toll on my body though. It is exhausting to do this year after year. You feed the depression your creativity to keep it quiet. Then you feed it your motivation, then it is your hope. Depression has a voracious appetite. I worry now that I am feeding the depression too much. What if it takes my motivation to keep my relationships alive, robs me of my investment in other people? If I stop caring, stop putting in the effort with others, would they stick by me or let their hurt blind them to my pain? I need to know that I can control this, that I can rise above it. I need to know that depression will not define me or prevent me from living. I need to find myself again, the me that doesn’t allow herself to sabotage things simply because it seems like too much work to do otherwise. I hope I do…before my coffee wears off and I succumb to the apathy.