What does it feel like to be depressed? Well, there's a scale - a variation of pain - that hits me in different ways on different days.
When it first started, before I even knew it was happening, it was mostly just a total loss of motivation. And exhaustion. I was so exhausted. I just wanted to sit around all the time and I told myself it was because I was taking a "break" and because it was Winter.
But when warm Spring days came, I seemed to be getting worse. This was the next stage on the scale - the stage where getting out of a bed was next to impossible. Work was still a reason to get up, but on the weekends? Hardly. I remember laying in bed and so desperately wanting to go out and enjoy the sun but just being utterly incapable of it. Like there was a weight on my chest holding me in place.
That was the wake-up call. That's when I broke down and finally admitted - reluctantly - that something was Wrong.
I started with a visit to my doctor and a few psych appointments.
And then I hit the bottom of the scale. I was devastated all the time and clinging - CLINGING - to whatever form of normalcy I could, but with little hope of survival. Soon the panic attacks started and the constant chest pain followed, and I spent more than one morning collapsing on my bedroom floor knowing I couldn't go to work. And even when I could, it became a TOTALLY RATIONAL idea to just hide under the desk. No one would know I was there. I'd be safe.
Then I started thinking about suicide now and then. How would I do it? It would be so much easier. Hubby would be better off. Etcetera.
That was the point at which medication became necessary. And time away from work.
So I spent the next several weeks making TREMENDOUS effort to emerge from bed every day. It took everything I had to just get in the car and go on an errand with Hubby. I remember visiting my mom and just sitting on her stairs for days without the basic capacity to leave that one spot. And I rememebr trying to choke down a few bites of food.
After four weeks of meds I was supposed to be feeling the relief everyone told me would come. And I wasn't. Sure, I had one or two tolerable days, but nothing like what I was expecting. I sat on my bedroom floor leaning on the bedframe and just crying to myself that I just. wanted. to. feel. better.
Back to the doctor. An increase of meds and a plan to go back to work part time. Psych appointments continued and the goal was ultimately to get back to day-to-day functioning. Get out of bed. Shower. Eat. Go to work. Hold it together. Don't panic. Go home. Rest. Start all over again.
But then I started feeling some relief. Miraculously. My brain was no longer 100% occupied with forcing myself to breathe. It was not quite as exhausting to function. It was hard, yes, but it didn't take up every single minor ounce of whatever energy I had to just keep going.
I could feel the change. I could feel it getting better. And I could start paying some attention to the things in my life that made me this way in the first place. I had a crutch to lean on while I worked on the other stuff. A backup battery.
And then Hubby's Poppy died. Setback. But I managed. I was able to recognize what I needed and allow myself that space. I took a vacation day. And we went to the waterpark. It was magical - just what I needed... to laugh and feel joy.
And then someone else died. And that was more complicated. She was an awful and dangerous person from my childhood, and dealing with a lack of sympathy for someone's death was a whole new experience for me. Brand new. And miserable.
But my therapist got me through it and she said I was turning a corner. Fatigue was still an issue and mornings still sucked ASS, but I was sticking to my Diversification Plan and making some progress. Finally.
And then my pseudo-grandfather died. And because of tricky family dynamics I didn't go to the service. And that was heartbreaking, because I didn't like having to admit that my fragile heart and mind couldn't handle it. I hated it, actually. And the guilt washed over me until I thought I might drown.
So instead of going to the service, I went to the cottage, as planned, which only made me feel worse. Everyone said sitting at home would not have been better for me, but I'm not convinced.
I felt myself sliding, very slowly and desperately sliding down the scale again. Falling into the abyss of depression that not even the meds could pull me out of.
I saw it coming. It was harder to concentrate and I started preferring to cover my head with the blankets and hide from the world. And then yesterday I couldn't get out of bed. And then those nasty thoughts came again. I know they're irrational, and I don't think they're sincere, but there's something inside that just lets me go to that place. Something deep beneath my surface that likes to entertain the idea. It seems to let some of the pressure out.
So I slept on the couch for a few hours yesterday afternoon/evening, and just couldn't be bothered to get up. I'm not even that tired. I just can't face the alternative.
And the worst part of the sliding scale? It feeds off itself. I am so ashamed and so desperate. It pulls me down and down and the lower I get the harder it is to pull myself out.
So there it is. That's what it's like, for me, to be depressed. Logically, in my mind, I know I'll probably be ok. I'll dig UP and find a way to drag myself out of this dark hole. I don't know how yet. But I will.
But in my heart? In my heart, it's not that easy.