- It allows you to sit in bath water for hours, heating it occasionally, as you stare at the window and think “this is cathartic.”
- It conveniences you that an almost empty house is the perfect place to heal.
- It whispers that you weren’t sick before, that suicide will take away the pain.
- It snakes around you arms and legs and makes them immovable.
- It tells you that you are stupid and no longer capable of doing anything you once did.
- It strips away your armor making you vulnerable to those who would attack you.
You can only free yourself when you are able to take these and the thousands of other moments like them, grasp your hands, and say firmly, “I no longer believe in depression’s lies.”
How lovely would be
If you could see the best in me
The woman who always gives to the homeless
A woman who loves her chosen children as much as her biological
A counselor who weeps for her clients
Who fights for justice in the world
A Simple Addiction
What I wouldn’t give
For a nice addiction
For people to believe
I could be helped
An honest attempt
To see the real me
Behind my illness
To meet me halfway
To receive honest support
I can be saved
That I am worth saving
– Anonymous Friend in response to When your roommate is a crackhead
Perhaps the most debilitating symptom of major depressive disorder (MDD) is that as you need people the most while you slide further and further into the pit of darkness and nothingness, that is when your disorder forces you to isolate yourself further and further from those you care about. Reasonably, you could expect that they also care about you.
Now the irony of this situation is that people often say things like, “I’ll be there for them when they need me.” (They haven’t spoken to anyone in 2 weeks and look like death, THEY NEED YOU NOW). Or, “They will talk to me when they are ready.” Guess what, a lesson on this disorder, they are never going to be ready. Their pain and embarrassment becomes compounded with anger as you wait for them to approach you.
When I left the hospital, I had to make a list of my support network. I sighed at how meager it was; my husband, my daughter, my father, my aunt, and two friends. The social worker asked if I was sure there was no one else to include. I looked at the paper, looked up at her again, and shook my head. The joys of depression and the price of isolation.
I paced those halls hundreds of times a day, from one large window overlooking downtown to the other and then back again. Medication at 5:00 a.m., vitals at 6:30, breakfast at 8:00 (nothing vegetarian excepts grits), medication at 9:00, then therapy, doctors, therapy, nurses, activity therapy, lunch, art, dinner, and social workers until 7:30 each night. In between, I walked up and down the halls. I can’t really explain why. I had (have) no excess energy, but my anxiety and racing thoughts would take over the moment that I sat down.
As the chemicals in my brain become more stable, and I became more “me”, I was haunted by razor thin cuts bleeding down my arm, leg, and torso. I could not stop the nurse’s voice telling me that I had not been sublimating, but practicing. That all of the work that I was doing to keep my life together was in vain, and that I had come so very close to losing it all.
Last week, I learned that sometimes it takes being completely broken in order to be put together again. Am I broken still? No, but a friend called me fragile this morning and I had to agree. I don’t remember the last time that I was fragile, but my doctors assure me that in a month or so that I’ll be better.
As for my roommate, she was only there for two days, but she was SCARY.
I write about the things that I observe at work, in life, and in my own life. It always amazes me when people believe that I am referring directly to them. If I was talking about you, I would talk to you.
Today I watched my little girl play and dance. She twirled and whirled. She played soccer with her big sister’s legs and tried to ride her like a pony. She also tried to slide down her sister’s back onto the coffee table unassisted. She is strong and smart and so very beautiful. She isn’t afraid of anything.
As I watched her I had a thought, when do we learn to be afraid? For those of us who strive to be so strong, how can we be so easily broken? Can we become like mended Japenese pottery, stronger and more beautiful? Or are we like a shattered Wedgewood cup, once beautiful but now lacking any perceived value.
I think that the worst thing, the saddest thing, is that most people are capable of recovery. They would be stronger, greater, and better able to take on the world after their struggle. However, the people who “love” them most like friends and family are like the souleaters of myth. Once someone has broken they have no intention of allowing them to stand again. The others gain their strength by comparing themselves to the fallen ones.