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.