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.
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?
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.