Someone recently challenged me to write about what it is, keeping me from writing. Oh, that sly wise person. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. I’m going to pick on the dinosaurs today, and call what I am fighting one of their own number (you can’t libel the dead, right? And they’re all animals so I’m doubly safe)
Right now, I fight a dinosaur every day. His name, is DEPRESSION.
I’m not alone in my battle. In one study done by the CDC (That’s Center for Disease Control) found that 1 in 20 people in the United States are in treatment for depression. So, if you know 20 people, one of them is most likely under a doctor’s care for this illness. That’s just the reported cases too; there are many who are depressed and don’t get treatment, or are going through a homeopathic route and so aren’t counted by the CDC.
So if you’re like me, and waging war against the dinosaur, be comforted. You’re not alone.
Now, depression varies from person to person and type to type. I’m not qualified to talk about anyone’s depression but my own, but I’m writing this to help those who know me understand a little bit about what I go through, and to encourage others in the trenches that they aren’t alone.
For me, my struggle is a mix of doubt and fatigue. It’s physical fatigue as well as mental fatigue; there are days I don’t want to do anything but hunker in the bed and not move. There are days that I go to bed early and get up late and it’s still not enough. There are times in the day where I want to dig a hole, crawl in, and sleep until next spring. Words won’t come out of the right drawers in my mind, I mix up sentences (this doesn’t help as the learning disability worsens during these times and makes my verbal mistakes even worse) and I can’t seem to remember my own last name or telephone number. It is incredibly frustrating.
While that’s the physical side, the mental side of my depression slides down into a morass of doubts.
I doubt my ability, I want to give up on writing, on blogging, on reading, on reviewing, on relationships and really everything that is not sitting somewhere in my pajamas with a blanket watching cooking shows on television. I want to be left alone. There are even darker times when I doubt my faith, I doubt God, and I doubt Christ. It’s a horrible, dark, wretched time and all I want is relief from the oppressive weight and feeling like I am a failure and a waste of space.
Because most of this is primarily internal, I can go for weeks sometimes without letting on that I’m back in the same ole’ tar pit. I know intellectually that I need to tell my friends, parents, and even my doctor that I’m stuck again but it’s hard. It’s hard to admit that I’m back in the pit that I was popped out of several months ago. I fall into a syndrome of either judging myself that I’ve used up my last “rescue” and should be better or stronger by now, or I ignore the warning signs because I don’t want to be depressed.
Have I mentioned that it isn’t fun?
I think one of the hardest parts of depression, for me, is that I’m not always depressed. There’s a significant difference between normal me, and depressed me. That’s what makes it hard, that’s what can drive me crazy, the memory of normal me when I am depressed me. I know that there was a time I wasn’t like this. I remember a time when I felt more like myself. And I desperately want to get back there. The good news for my particular case of depression is that it does get better. Different supplemental items, more sunlight, more exercise, and my body begins to stop spinning its chemical wheels and re-engages the motor to move me onward.
When I’m in a tar pit of depression however, wrestling with a Brachiosaurus, I tend to do what your body does if you fall into the Atlantic ocean in December; I prioritize functions in order to survive.
I need to get out of bed in the morning, I need to clean up, I need to eat, and I need to go to work and I need to exercise, I need to talk with Jesus and spend time with my family. If I have any time/energy left after that, I read. If I have any time/energy left after that, I write. If I have any time/energy after that, I get on-line to see how my friends that live far away are doing. And after all of that, if there’s anything over at all, I jot my thoughts down for this blog.
After all, this is supposed to be fun! You’re suppose to be entertained, and I’m suppose to be enjoying sharing my thoughts with you. I’m sorry that you’re on the very last wrung of the priority ladder, but hey, at least you’re there right?
Here are some of the things that people do, and have done for me that really mean a lot when I’m depressed:
Acknowledge that I have worth to them even in my depressed state (the world always judges your value by what you produce and when I’m really fighting depression I’m not that outwardly productive)
“Hey, just wanted you to know you really are one of the cool people in my life. You’re always cool even when you’re working on choking that monster to death.”
Offer to listen without fixing my problem but don’t let me stay in the mire
“You’ve got a half an hour to tell me how much this is the pits, and then we’re going to do something fun.”
Engage me socially
“I’m taking you to a movie/play/ window shopping /to the park/to the petting zoo” (so important–I tend to retreat from life and it really isn’t good to do that when you’re depressed)
Pray for me
“Hey, praying for you. I know it doesn’t feel like it, but then we don’t go by feelings. Jesus isn’t about to let you go. You rest, I’ll pray.
Remind me that others have been her before and made it out the other side because Christ carried them out.
“Look, the Lord took care of Jeremiah, and David, Isaiah, and Jonah and Elijah. Others have wrestled with this dinosaur and the LORD delivered them. He also stuck beside them until they were freed. He doesn’t change. He’s not going to leave you like this. You’re no different then they were. He is with you, Christ is with you.”
So, that’s a little peek into what my time in depression is like.
What about you? Are you one of those 1-in-20 that are filled with grit, grist, fire, fight and the Spartan like ability to grab onto your opponent and choke it until it dies? (What, didn’t you see all those fighting words up there? People with depression wrestle, fight, battle, struggle, and war with it but we never, ever accept it.)
What are some of the things other have done for you that help? What tips can you give me?
If you don’t struggle with depression, what things do you struggle against? How are you building your spiritual and emotional strength?