see here's the thing about depression
note to self: remember to breathe
it doesn't make any sense. you’ll be having a perfectly good day, then KAPOW! out of nowhere, you’re as blue as the bottom of a glass. sometimes there's a trigger — protracted illness, getting ditched by a friend, unwelcome memories of childhood neglect. other times, there's no discernible reason. it just is, stubbornly inexplicable, and you pray the people around you have the patience and understanding to drive all the way to friendly’s on a school night to get you a three-scoop sundae with peanut butter sauce, while you sit on the couch and stare.
here's a list of random things that depress me (and i don't mean getting annoyed or being in a bad mood, but clinical, cyclothymic, bipolar depression, where you feel hopeless, your belly sinks into your feet, and you have to remind yourself to breathe):
- a broken water glass
- spotty wifi
- harvey peeing on a brand new rug
- humidity (such that the banister gets sticky)
- canceled plans
- paint stains on my favorite white shirt
- scattered mail on the dining table
- wicker chairs that you found online and they seemed perfect but now that they're here they're just too small
- not having annie's deluxe mac and cheese in the house
- mildew in the bathtub
- an unmade bed
maybe you think it’s funny that the absence of macaroni could make someone double over with fear. but there’s more to it. the fear is primal. it’s the futility of trying to control your own environment, it's the terror of being abandoned, it's remembering a childhood kitchen caked in mold and rot. the list isn’t about depression. it’s a list of keys the demons use to unlock the deadbolt of your head.
i’m not writing this to elicit sympathy. I feel great today. i’m writing this, rather, to give that sympathy to you. so many of us battle depression all the time, without realizing it. we blame ourselves for how we feel, unable to detect the repeated chemical patterns of action and reaction. we're not trying hard enough. we just need to snap out of it. and we never do.
but see, here’s the other thing about depression.
it doesn’t have to be that way for us.
we don’t think twice about treating cuts and scrapes and cold sores and cancer. what about the wounded psyche, the lacerated soul? if a headache is temporary and treatable, can’t despair be too? we let the stigma of mental illness keep us from mental wellness. if you break your leg, would you walk a mile without a cast? think of it like this: depression is your brain having an allergy attack; antidepressants are the zyrtec of the mind. who wouldn't want their soul to stop sneezing?
many things brought me as far as i've come: therapy, medicine, my husband, honesty, bravery, rust, vultures, friendship, cats, hope. i still have a long way to go, and i know i'll always have bad days. but now i have good days, too, days when stepping into a freshly hacked hairball doesn't make me bawl.