Health, life, MS

Not so sunshiny days- Depression and awareness

Depression

Last summer was the first time since adolescence that I experienced true depression. Luckily, this time I had the knowledge, wisdom and support to see it for what it was.

When I was a teenager at boarding school, I told nobody and suffered in silence until I acted out in despair and swallowed a handful of Tylenol. Nobody found out about that either. I wasn’t trying to kill myself, just trying to make the pain stop.

That phase was an exception, I consider myself blessed to be born with a generally happy disposition. As a child, the world was alive in my imagination; not only my dolls and teddy bears were alive but all living things fascinated me and talked to me. Seriously. Okay, I talked to them but I swear they talked back!

I still have the habit of talking to myself and objects around me. As a teacher, I would sometimes have parents waiting outside because they thought I was in a meeting when I was just having a grand old chat with myself. I usually have a smile on my face and I genuinely enjoy interacting with other people when I’m out in the world.

We all have days where we feel ‘blah’, the sky not so blue, the flowers not so bright. This is the necessary balance to life because if we don’t experience the lows, we can’t fully appreciate the highs. The idea of living in a utopia where nothing bad ever happens and everyone is happy all the time is appealing but unrealistic. It would be nice if we could tip the scales just a bit further in the positive direction somehow though, wouldn’t it?😉

Depression is an entirely different ogre. Depression sits in the pit of your stomach, chained to your heart, sucking all motivation and positivity from your thoughts.

Depression feels like you’re drowning in front of a crowd but no one can see you


Finding motivation and staying positive are constant challenges with any chronic illness already. The constant weight of fatigue multiplied by the pressure of depression starts to make me feel claustrophobic in my own body. Um…yeah.

I had not planned to post about depression this week, but IT’S BACK! The hard kernel of dread and doom has been festering there in my gut, as I’ve tried to control my stress, get lots of rest, eat well, exercise, meditate, communicate, blah, blah, BLAH. The cloud grows.

My question is this: why do my physical symptoms ease in the summer just for the mental monsters to come out to play? It would make more sense to get depressed in the winter when the skies are grey and the fatigue and nerve pain are at their worst. Easier to justify staying in bed with the covers pulled up to my chin then, too.

When the sun is shining, there are vegetables and plants to be tended, not to mention children(thank goodness they’re older), so guilt pokes out its claws too.

What’s there to be depressed about, for Pete’s sake? Stiff upper lip, role model, it’s okay to feel it but you still have to get on with life. All those negative inner voices that I usually scoff at, get amplified when this bugger shows up, too. Good times.

Does this happen to anyone else, this summertime depression?

Awareness

Depression is the most prevalent invisible illness in our modern world, affecting every echelon of society, yet the stigma remains. People suffer in silence and isolation and/or quietly accept the next prescription for anti-depressants, only admitting to their closest circle, if anyone, that they couldn’t handle the darkness anymore.

Depression is a common symptom of multiple sclerosis so it’s a double whammy of an invisible illness. I am fortunate to have a wonderful partner that wants to help and tries to understand what it’s like to live in my body. I feel the frustration of his helplessness that there really is nothing he can do beyond being the caring, attentive, goofy guy that he is. The best I can do is help him understand.

Analogies seem to be the most effective way to help people understand an experience they haven’t had. So, I started thinking about ways to describe depression. My depression, being usually (god, I hope so) short-lived, is the Lite version compared to what many experience day in, day out their whole lives. So I’m sure there are many better analogies out there, but these are the ones I came up with.

Depression is like:

– swallowing a cannonball that chains itself to your heart then leaks radioactive material that poisons your thoughts.

– alternately wanting to burst into tears, shriek at the sky or throw up every second even though your life is perfect.

– Voldemort sent all the Dementors inside your body where they are multiplying as they suck out your soul.

– you’ve woken in a nightmare and no matter how hard you slap yourself, you can’t wake up.

– being in a Dali painting, sliding off the surface of reality. For me, time is a huge factor because now that I’m not ‘working’, I see all the things that need doing, all the time, but my energy doesn’t measure up to my desire to get shit done. Then, depression sucks out the motivation too.

img_0914

– finding that patch of quicksand I searched for as a kid, wondering why I ever wanted to know what it felt like.

– stepping in shit, knowing that you’re standing in shit, seeing the clear path to get out of the shit, and not having enough fucks to give to bother.

– being Wile E. Coyote when the anvil ends up on his chest.

How do you describe depression?

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, I’m sure there are many of you that have better analogies.

Helping other people understand using examples they can relate to is a simple way to build awareness and end the stigma.

And don’t forget the very important lesson of Eeyore:

Have a wonderful week, everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by!

❤️ Amanda

24 thoughts on “Not so sunshiny days- Depression and awareness”

  1. I think depression has some similarities to MS in that you can’t see, touch, nor heal either ailment. You have to learn how to live with the day to day challenges in both MS and depression.

    I imagine depression feels like the daunting task of trying to walk through a very muddy swampy pond with thick, bristley tall dead weeds spread before you. regardless of what’s outstretched before you, you have no energy to even get to Neverland on the other side with happy music, pleasant smells of cakes, cookies, candies, friendly faces and many, many presents on the other side. It’s feeling like you just don’t care!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure I could come up with any better analogy than the ones you’ve given here – they all really hit the mark for me. I think this is a such an empathic, honest and authentic exploration of depression that will resonate with many people. Thank you for this post, I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling at the moment, I hope you find a way through.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so sad for your 😞☹️😔😪!!
    I have watched friends so struggle with meds as well as day-to-day life. I don’t completely understand yet I do!!! If I lived close I would want to try to help you get out of your house even to just breath the fresh air for a little while. My friend Sharon loved painting so that’s what I would urge her to do with me.

    I’m sorry your having a tough spell — one day at a time.
    Take care dear friend!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Do that everyday if it’s the fresh air that brings you up a little. Challenge yourself to find new things to see beauty in — perhaps a bug colony, fish, tadpoles, birds, squirrels, shape of clouds,etc…

        Journal or paint there even

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I do a lot of writing at the beach actually, and if not there I’m out in our garden. Got to get that vitamin d! 🙂 I may have to try painting at some point. It’s not something I’ve ever done.

        Like

  4. I think the summer just highlights that you’re depressed. You see people all over social media living their (likely unrealistic) lives and you’re trapped in the claustrophobic bubble that is depression. Sending hugs your way xo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was a fabulous and informative post. Depression is a battle faced but completely unseen by others. Sadly for those that suffer from depression, no one can really help them until they want to help themselves. My husband has been fighting it for a long time now and it has been a struggle for both of us. I try to help but it is like banging my head against a wall and it doesn’t break. I agree with one of the analogies made, depression is a lot like MS, it is felt but never really seen!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome and thank you for your response. To be completely honest, I think I am able to empathize a lot more because he is just stuck in his own mind. He has not been as supportive as he once was. I am a fighter for both of us and things will change sooner or later. Hugs to you as well!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m sorry to hear that he’s not been able to support you as well under the weight of his depression. It’s lucky you’re so strong! I hope things do change for the better for both of you really really soon. 💕

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m really glad you wrote this because so many people talk about winter and depression but summer is very hard for me. You summed up my life in many parts of what you have written. How you have felt in the past and now. When the physical eases the mental pain comes in. It is very very frustrating

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It helps for me to go out late at night. I just got back from a full moon photography evening. If only their were no mosquitos!!!

        Liked by 1 person

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