For every individual, depression is a very personal situation. Each person, each experience is unique in its own way. Today, for me, it is a dark shadow hanging over my head and everything I do. It has followed me from home to my therapy appointment and back home. It doesn't matter how much I love my family, the glitch in my brain chemistry has me feeling very alone, inadequate, worthless, and in a downright very dark space.
These dips are common. They wax and wane. Some days are brought on by circumstances. Other days they are part of the how things roll. Sometimes it is a mixture of both. There are days that it takes me by surprise and others times it is terrifying because I know what is next.
Taking medications isn't for me. Most have come with pretty significant side effects. Life altering, life threatening, doing the opposite of what they were intended to side effects. None have truly helped.
It isn't that I don't have very good tools and don't know how to pull myself out of the dark hole that I am in.
I do. I've been here before. Most days I'm pretty successful at using the tools to keep my head above water. Today those tools are garbage. Just like someone who has high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol tries to keep their numbers w/in range to remain healthy, I have and do try very hard to stay above water.
Most of the time I am effective. Sometimes, like today, it gets away from me. I've used the tools and done what I know has (and usually helps). I've reminded myself over and over something that my current therapist has said. None of it has helped. And with each attempt to pull my shit together. I fall deeper and deeper. The one thing I know to do is to shut down. Push everyone around me away and create a bubble in order to protect myself from further pain.
One of the things I have learned over and over is that silence magnifies the state that I'm in. A sure way to add fuel to the fire is isolate myself from those around me and it is only a matter of time before the fire is burning to bright and I can't hide it any longer. Yet, pulling out of the silence is sometimes to much.
I'm sharing this not because I want or need sympathy or pity from you. I want whomever may be reading this to know that perfectly normal people, strong people, the father sitting next to you in church, the bus driver who took you to work this morning, the clergyman sitting in front of his congregation....each of them sometimes have a condition that can get out of control.
I am not an oddball by any stretch of the imagination when it comes to sharing my own struggles. Millions of individuals suffer from one or more mental disorders. Far to many go undiagnosed because of the stigma that is associated with mental illness.
If your best friend had a brain tumor, you wouldn't tell her to try harder. You wouldn't tell her that if she did XYZ than she would for sure feel better. You probably wouldn't drop off the face of the earth because it was to much to handle and she was full of drama.
Last summer, when I went through TMS therapy, I went alone. Every.single.day.for.several.weeks. My husband did not go with me. My local friends and family did not go with me. Yet, for someone who has to have chemotherapy, you may take a meal, offer to clean their house, or offer to help in some other manner. I felt those around me were expecting this miracle and I would be much better. And when I wasn't much better, I walked away feeling like I failed. I still feel like I've failed. My father has cancer. If the treatment regimen he is enduring doesn't work he is not the one that failed. We as a society will not look at him and think he failed and didn't do everything he could have done.
There are plenty blogs and articles wrote on 'mental illness vs physical illness' and how family and friends treat it so different. I've found this to be extremely true in my own life.
I write this in hopes that somehow, someone, will find a way to reach out if you sense someone close to you is struggling with mental illness. Speak from your heart. Speak honestly. Speak without harsh judgement. You wouldn't speak harsh to someone with a brain tumor. Don't do it to someone who is struggling on any level.
This illness. This stigma. It is debilitating. It is overwhelmingly lonely. It can be deadly.