Do you know someone who is suffering from it? Are you suffering? I never had until 5 years ago when I began a season of clinical depression that has left me reeling. It is finally lifting and I wish I could tell you why. It has left as mysteriously as it arrived. It is hard to describe but I recently found this journal entry. May it grant you a glimpse into what this feels like. Frankly, I don’t recall writing it. But I am not surprised by that. It was written during a time when I was literally floating above my life. If you are a friend of mine, please don’t feel bad for not knowing how badly I was doing. I never would have shared these dark thoughts. You see, depression is a petri dish for isolation. Cloaked in shame, I turned inward until I could “figure things out” because in the past, I had always been able to solve any problem I put my mind to. But not this one. And therein was the deepest fear of all – that my beautiful mind was failing me. Leaving me.
So, I find myself depressed at 51. Still depressed. First born off at college, husband is over me and this, unwashed, sleeping in the basement with our dogs and self-employed because I can’t seem to work for anyone else. Oh. And on probation for a DUI. See, I tried briefly in 2017 to escape the cesspool that was my mind by taking Xanax. It worked great until I tried to drive. And then it didn’t. And then I thought “let’s see what is going on without the pills. Let’s unpack this thing and check it out – so we can get to the bottom of it and move on.” So, the warm Xanax blanket lifted. But what I have found is worse than death. What I have found is myself – and nowhere to hide. No impressive job, no decorating project, no new outfit or haircut. The jig is up, and I can no longer hide the truth from myself. Because now I can see it in the eyes of everyone I care about. They know too. And that is the worst part. The blackness is unbearable. It is a hopeless void with pockets of violent terror that fill me with such dread my teeth chatter. My brain goes toward a nightmare – a frightening scenario of what my future might hold. Or it veers back – to a sea of regret for bad decisions and repercussions that leave me speechless with shame. I can hear the words, see the faces of the people I have disappointed. The tears I have caused. The damage inflicted but that is still germinating even now – to sprout fresh at some point in the hellish future -to claim the spirits of my children. My precious children, whose psyches I have damaged with my life. Memories wash over me in the dark of night like a kick in the gut. I am shaken out of a deep sleep by a moment in time, perspiring profusely and reliving it as if it were yesterday. But it has been 10 years, or 8, or 3? Give me a year and I will tell you the manner in which I fucked it up in a way that will revisit me and mine for years to come. This is truly worse than death – the thought that I will be living out the remainder of my days in this manner. To my mind – it seemed that I bring collateral damage to every situation I encountered. That every single person I have ever crossed paths with has been left diminished in some way for having known me. Reduced. Injured. I cannot think of one situation that would be improved by my taking part in it. To the contrary. It would be better off if I never touched it with my presence. The world would be a better place if I were not in it.
So, there it is. My mind goes there.
And yet it cannot be. Because I have children, and this would devastate them – because they are too young and too blinded by the fact that I am their mother to see the vileness of me. The true blackness that is my soul. This is what I feel in these days – as I stare at the ceiling and hear them all – living like normal people upstairs while I hide down here below. They know I am here – yet they have grown weary of me. I have as well. Dear God, why did I have these children? It would be so easy if I did not. There would not even be a question as to what I should do. I feel trapped as if being buried alive – and I am frightened that I will lose my mind to such a degree that I will have to be put away. The panic makes my heart race and the bible verses that I chant to calm myself sound like the rantings of a lunatic. A freaking crazy ass woman who has lost her mind. I used to be such an elegant person. I had a presence. Now I am unkempt. My only saving grace is that depression makes me unable to eat, not the other way around. At least by society’s standards my body looks great. But I know it could drop dead of a stroke at any minute, having lost 10 pounds and abused my blood vessels with high blood pressure and lack of sleep. The sleeplessness is making me psychotic. I know my thoughts are paranoid and irrational, but no amount of meditation or prayer will bring relief. I am too far from shore with no land in sight from any direction. I feel utterly snuffed out. I leave the radio off. Music used to move me to tears so not hearing it is preferable to the feeling of nothingness that it brings. Am I leaving sanity and headed toward the abyss? Or was the life I was leading the insanity that I have finally broken from and am drifting toward truth? Is this a breakdown, or a break through? Was I healthy then and have lost it now? Or is it the other way around? I don’t know. But there is nothing I can do. So, I wait and live the best I can. Some days I manage to shower by 2 pm. Most days I do nothing – I sleep and watch movies. But I don’t recall seeing them. I do manage to complete client projects and launched 2 websites last month– yet I don’t recall doing the work. Even now as I visit those sites, they are new to me. Occasionally something gets through. A good quote, a verse, a word. Something that is a spark and stirs my soul. It’s the stirring that encourages. I see color for a minute. It means I am still in there and still have a spirit that can be stirred. Because it is the not caring that frightens me most. The lack of interest in anything that has to do with life. Truly that is a living death.
That was then. This is now.
I feel nothing like that now and am jolted by the words that once seemed so real to me. How could I have believed such lies? Lies from the very pit of hell. And yet I did. It was SO REAL at the time. I shudder to think others might be feeling this way. If you are reading this and it resonates, I urge you to talk to someone. Anyone. And don’t feel discouraged if those closest to you are not the best choice to go to at this point. I lost a college friend of mine to suicide just over a year ago. Oh how I wished we could have shared out hearts with each other. Perhaps it would have made a difference.
Please know that these feelings WILL PASS. You are not a mistake. You are not a detriment to this world. You are a precious child of God with a legacy to share. Just hold on. One more day. I promise it will get better. Please believe me.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”-Psalm 30:5