Friday, 29 July 2016

Through a Glass, Darkly - My Journey Through Depression

I lie awake in the gray hours of morning.  My body is aching from restlessness and exhaustion, but I refuse to open my eyes.  If I open them, I will have to acknowledge that I am awake and I will have to get up.  I don't want to get up.  I don't want to do anything. I want to lie still and pretend to myself, and to the world, that I am still asleep.

Raising Lazarus was probably easier than getting out of bed. I hate looking in the mirror while I dress. My hair is dry and lank, I've put on weight and my skin manages to be both dry and greasy.  None of my clothes seem to hang right - even if I can decide what to wear. I get the kids to school late.  I wait at a stop street frantically trying to decide whether I should turn left or right.  I can't decide, so I pull forward into the traffic and just turn.  All around me there's the sound of tyres screeching and loud hooting. 

My day is a long, deary "meh", punctuated by fits of rage or panic.  Sometimes I notice that I am smiling, but it's like seeing someone else's smile. It feels distant.  Not connected to me. 

I escape into work, staying late.  Sometimes I forget important appointments or deadlines. But mostly, I'm too organized to do that.  Everything gets written down - because I know that unless I do this, I will cease to function entirely. 

My husband is a good man.  He takes care of dinner and the children, as per our tacitly agreed division of labour (I do mornings, teachers and doctors, he does evenings, dinner and sport). Sometimes he resents my long hours, but mostly he understands that work is work. 

I hate myself.  

Through a glass, darkly

This is my depression.  Its not dramatic. I'm not suicidal.  I'm not even sad.  I'm just...nothing.  Except ugly, stupid, and frequently enraged. Some nights I'm plagued by night-terrors where I wake around 2am sweating and with my heart thumping. Some days panic attacks pounce on me unexpectedly.  When this happens, the world around me shrinks to a pin-prick of light that blinks through a dark terror that engulfs me like a suffocating blanket.

The thing with my depression is that when I am in it, I can't see it.  I know that I am so worthless that I deserve the self-disgust that I feel. I don't think I'm entitled to any kind of happiness or pleasure or joy. When I am in that ugly, greasy, gray place I can't even remember ever having been happy.  And I push through it every day.  I keep going because the misery I feel is a kind of penance I must pay for continuing to consume the oxygen that someone else is more worthy of. 

There is a part of me that knows this kind of thinking is irrational, but it's a really small part, and I don't believe it. Sometimes I seek out abusive people or situations as "punishment" for my worthlessness. Psychological self-flagellation is a constant and the self-loathing I feel is indescribable. 

I see the world through a glass, darkly.

If you feel this way, get help. Now. 

Climbing out of the hole

Usually, its the rage that stops my downward spiral.  I find myself raging at my children one too many times in a day, and their terrified little faces pierce the fog.  Then I remember:  I've been here before. The brain fog, the insomnia, the dullness, the panic. Most especially the rage and the refusal to open my eyes in the morning. So, I get help.

For me, help comes in the form of an SSRI drug.  I've also had a lot of therapy.  Years and years of it.  Therapy has helped me learn to manage my unrelenting, underlying anxiety.  Nowadays I rarely have the panic attacks  that drove me to my first therapist - except when I am depressed.

If this happens to you, don't believe the bullshit your out-of-whack brain is telling you. This is a physiological problem, not a character flaw. If you were diabetic, you wouldn't tell yourself to "just carry on because you deserve it".

Your help might not take the form of a pill. It might be a psychologist, life coach or even a personal trainer.  Heck, do whatever works.  

You. Do. Not. Have. To. Live. This. Way.

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