Depression. Ugh, I’m struggling lately. Just like grief, depression is different for everyone. I’ve stated before that for me grief is like walking through a dense fog. With depression it is kind of similar except the fog is not inanimate. It feels as if this dark cloud has swallowed me up. The world still sees “me”, but I don’t feel at all like “me.” No matter what I do, I just can’t shake this darkness off of me. Depression is a beast! It consumes me, and currently, it is lasting far too long for my peace of mind.
I try hard to fight the darkness. I go to work. While I am there, I smile and make small talk. But I feel disconnected from that person that is joking and cheerily chatting with friends. I come home to my family, and I try to continue to fight it. It’s harder at home, but I don’t know why. Maybe because I feel like they are the only people who can sort of still see the real me, and they know. They know I’m struggling. All of this makes me feel worse because I genuinely love these people, and I feel like I am being fake with them. I detest being fake.
When the depression sinks in and takes over like this, the thoughts in my head are noisy and almost all consuming. They go something like this…
You are stupid. Seriously, can you even do anything right?
Nobody loves you. Did Jeff even love you? Maybe that is why he left. Clearly, you weren’t enough for him to live for.
You know everyone would be better off without you right?
Oh, the thoughts go on and on. I could keep typing. But notice that I said they are almost all consuming. There is still a part of me that knows all of this is wrong. So wrong! So, during a good moment, that part of me kicks in and sounds like this…
You aren’t stupid! You are an educated person with a fair amount of common sense.
Maybe not everybody loves you, but there are many who do. Focus on them!
Jeffrey loved you so much! That is evident in the way he treated you. The smiles, touches, and laughter that he shared with you up until he passed are all proof.
No, I don’t know that everyone would be better off without me! My kids need me! I need them!
Back off darkness…you are not my old friend.
Depression is sounding like a whole lot of fun right? I haven’t even mentioned yet that it makes me want to sleep all of the time. The other day I napped from 4:15 to 9:15, and then I was up for 2 hours and went to bed for the night at 11:15. Not every day is like that one, but lately, most days usually include a nap. My brain is just overloaded and needs that shut off time.
Speaking of an overloaded brain, can we talk about the fact that on top of depression, I am also struggling with anxiety? I worry all the time! I worry that I will lose another loved one too young. What if something happens to my kids? I make them text me and send me proof of life photos when I haven’t seen them in awhile. When the phone rings at odd times, or even regular times, I worry something bad has happened. My brain is constantly looking at all situations and examining it from every angle. Always searching for what could possibly go wrong. I’m learning that a side effect of anxiety is chest pain, and that is not fun! I sometimes feel like I am having a heart attack, and that is downright frightening. Frankly, all of it is exhausting. Maybe that is another reason I sleep so much. Hmmm???
Writing this is scary! Truly, I’m afraid that you all will think I am crazy after I share this. But honestly, I feel like I have to share. Like I am supposed to because I know that I am not the only person out there that feels like this at times. I’m not the only person who struggles with depression and/or anxiety. It’s common. How common appears to be hard to say. After looking at a couple sites, adaa.org and nimh.nih.gov specifically, my guess for depression in the US would be just over 17 million. It looks like this number is going up every year. So, I am not alone, and I am writing this so that people know it is okay to struggle. More than that…it’s okay to admit that you are struggling. We, as a society, need to share our struggles more openly instead of pretending we have it all together.
Some of you have read this far and feel blessed that you have never struggled with what I am describing. I want you to know that I am truly happy for those of you. I wouldn’t wish any mental health struggle on anyone. While you absolutely should feel thankful, I want you to remember that you likely know at least one person who does suffer from this type of thing. Be aware, ask your family and friends if they ever struggle, and overall, just encourage discussions on this often taboo topic.
Those of you that have read this far and know exactly what I am talking about, rest assured that you are absolutely not alone. Know that it is okay to talk about how you are feeling. Do some research about how to combat what you are going through, and remember that what helps one person may not help you. When I am struggling, my plan of action is usually talking to my doctor about my medication, counseling, trying to get outside more and soak up nature, and being purposeful about time with God. I listed God last, but for me He is the most important part. His light helps drive out the darkness that depression brings. Lately, I haven’t been spending as much time with God, and I can see a huge shift in how I feel. It’s not good.
Most importantly, if you struggle with any mental health issues, and I feel this is true for everyone, talk to someone. Share your thoughts! Yes, talk to a doctor or a counselor. But also talk to your mother, father, sister, friend, cousin. Heck, talk to your sister’s friend’s cousin. Depression often makes you feel alone, but you are not alone. I can guarantee that everyone has at least one person they can share with. Do it! Hiding it only makes it worse.
Remember, if you ever struggle, and I am saying this to myself too, you are not crazy! You are not all the lies that your depression tells you. Read those two sentences again!! (Read them again and again if you have to) What you are is a wonderful person who just needs a little help. Honestly, who doesn’t need a little help once in a while? You are going to be okay!