Tales From The Edge – Battling Depression

I spent part of this Summer caught in the mire of depression. It felt like I was drowning in concerns and worries. I can’t say that’s really like me, as sensitive as I am, but as there has been an overwhleming amount of change in my life in the past few years it is understandable. Even so, I did not expect or accept it. Amongst all the things I’ve adjusted to, I am still fighting with the bank to keep my home so it’s far from over.

Like most of us, I find it easy to suppress my fears under the mantle of busyness. When there is so much to do, there is little time to feel. When things slowed down in June, I stumbled to a crawl and stalled.

When I look back at my life, I can see that I have had four major go rounds with the monsters known as fear, anxiety and depression. They coincided with major life changes like breakups, miscarriage, divorce, and this time around the culprit was job loss and the resulting fallout. What makes this unique and dangerous is that I did not know that I was depressed. I just felt tired and after all the running around, planting, coordinating with clients and day to day tasks of running a small business that seemed normal.

My first clue came when I was driving and felt like I was falling asleep. A numbing feeling would steal over me and I would have flashes of myself in a car accident, and throwing up my hands to protect myself. I could see the mangled cars and it was scary. Each time it happened, I would open the windows and tense, grabbing the wheel harder to force myself to stay alert. Again, I chalked it up to exhaustion. I wasn’t deeply alarmed until an alien thought zoomed across my consciousness, “Maybe it would be better than this. It would be peaceful.”

I mentally shook myself not for me but for the thought of how the people I loved would feel at such an event was what gave me pause. Still, I was silent.

I got my second wake up call in the form of a good verbal thrashing from my fiance because he said I was not “acting” normal. Of course, I vehemently denied that but it did cause me to think. Reflectively, I could see that something was quite wrong but I was extremely resistant to discuss my feelings with anyone. I was afraid of all the typical things: shame, judgement, the perception of weakness, how this affects my view of self, and oddly enough, scorn and laughter. In my head, these ideas loomed so large that it quite literally glued my mouth shut. Yet, the more silent I was, the worse I felt.

In July, one of my friends said that she was coming to visit me and we could go out to lunch. I dreaded this as I had been spending all my time in doors with the blinds shut curled up with a book. When the day arrived, I tried to cancel but she knows me too well lol. The only thing I could say was, “I’m not feeling well..” Thirty years of friendship is hard to circumvent so it took only a short time for me to crack and all my anxieties tumbled out in a torrent.  She came anyway, of course, and we were able to have a long and very necessary talk.  Step 1.

I forced myself thereafter to get up and face things a little at a time, anything else would have been overwhelming. I talked to my friends and loved ones and surprise, surprise, there was no laughter. There was empathy and sunshine just waiting for me, literally. For me, that was all that was required to get me back on track and resume the fight.

I learned something this time, or perhaps I should say I was viciously reminded. Sometimes, you can’t go it alone.

Weeks later, I watched The Beaver, a movie about depression and the lines which struck me most were:

“No matter how bad it gets there is always one person in your life who is willing to stand up for you, fight for you, take care of you, accept you, love you, pick you up and dust you off, bandage you up and uphold you until the storm has passed…”

I have paraphrased, of course. I felt the need to write this because I have listened to the fleeting reports about just how many people are silently suffering from depression during these tough economic times. We turn inward when help is outward, you just have to find the courage to reach for it. If not for you, then for the people who love you.

 

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12 thoughts on “Tales From The Edge – Battling Depression”

  1. Coco, what an insightful post! I find it wonderful that more people are willing to open up about depression and its symptoms. My sister suffers from it and for many years, the family thought she was just “moody.” We knew something was wrong, but she was in denial and insisted she was just “going through a phase.” An entire year went by till she realized that she did have a problem that was not going to go away on its own. Today, with the help of medication and psychotherapy, she’s on the path to getting her life back on track. It’s important for family members to know what signs to look for an how to support the person that is experiencing depression. Thank you for creating awareness with your own story.

    1. Hi Bella,

      You came back! Lol. It’s crazy how our culture and society create locks on our behavior. Unfortunately, it’s dangerous as well. I am glad to see that more things are coming to light because they help us to find our best selves. Your comment about people knowing what to look for is dead on. It would seem obvious but humans do a fantastic job of masking.

      Thanks for chiming in and share your experience. Love your blog 🙂

  2. No, you can’t “go it alone”. Also, there’s no need to. Many of us experience some of the very same feelings at some point another, and there is no hierarchy in the situations and/or circumstances that get us there; however, many of us are resistant to seek ‘help’ or counsel, for fear of rejection and shame, or the host of other feelings of inadequacy that result from not being able to wrap our hands entirely around a situation and/or control it. However, I’ve learned that real friends want and need to hear the real you, so opening up is necessary for the relationships, in turn, to bloom.

    I’m glad that you shared the path that this depression took with you. I felt like I was in the car with you as you seemed unable to stay awake, then again with you as you curled up with that book, blinds drawn, in a dimly lit room. I am glad that you courageously shared ALL of that with us. I take comfort in knowing that most of us are more alike than different; more complex and conflicted than poised; and more needing of community than we care to admit.

    This morning, I wrote the following: “I am thankful for a community – which you of course, are a part – that is so much broader than the physical spaces in which we gather! Spread the canvas, y’all!” And now, I say it to you.

    1. Hi Empress,

      “More conflicted that poised and more in need of community than we care to admit.” So very true 🙂 As a relatively new blogger, I did not imagine that I would meet such great people by the simple act of sharing this blog and it makes me very happy that I have. It is a great way to meet people with common interests and issues, as it were. Now, it is not just a fun thing I do but a necessary thing to do which is wonderful.

      I have lots of snarky things to say about the Net but I will never get over just how much our lives have been transformed by disappearing geographic lines as we connect with one another seamlessly – that is a beautiful thing. Thank you…

  3. This is one of those very personal posts that speaks volumes to others because they see so much of themselves as they listen to your story.

    I’m glad you were able to open up about your feelings and find that there were people who wanted to hear and help. Too often in my life I’ve had the opposite happen. People around me have often been angry at circumstance, and therefore angry at me, or just frozen like deer in headlights hoping they can come back later and I’ll be “all right” so they can unload. Even so, the most important thing is to find that avenue where you can speak. We have to find to that safe place to talk out loud so we can get better.

    Thanks for writing this, Coco, and sharing it with us.

    1. Hi Sparks,

      When I first came to WordPress, a fellow blogger told me that it would be a great outlet. I didn’t kquite know what he meant at that time because my initial impetus for starting the blog was to showcase my work. As I started to move around the Blogosphere, I realized that I was most moved by the personal recollections of others that, as Empress says below, spoke to our humanity. They were not only moving but helpful as well.

      Still, I couldn’t quite imagine “exposing” myself in that way but I soon began to chip away at all the reasons that I shouldn’t and did, in tiny increments lol. Lo and behold, it was indeed cathartic. Thank you for sharing in my journey.

      C.

  4. Jennifer,

    You provided my second smile of the morning, thank you. Somewhere I read recently, “Words are like arrows, you never know who they will reach” which sums it up beautifully. Please do…

  5. Sometimes I don’t want to push my problems on others. Why should they deal with me? Then I realize how much they need to know, as my friends and family, because I matter. Because they love me.

    I haven’t dealt with depression, but I do deal with anxiety. I’m in constant fear of overdosing on insulin for my diabetes, and am constantly fearing that I have a terminal illness. It’s become a very frightening life, and yet I still haven’t sought professional help. I just live day to day, waiting to see if I die during the night, or if I wake up the next morning and can say, “See, you’re just suffering from anxiety.”

    I’m making the wrong choice by not seeing anyone, and because of your effort to help yourself, I will call my doctor tomorrow. Thank you.

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