Depression is an ugly word. It’s seen as dirty, put on, attention-seeking.
No one wants to look it in the eye or talk about it. It’s SO much easier to just pretend it doesn’t exist.
I sit here on a Saturday morning – a day that’s supposed to feel fun and happy, because it’s the weekend. Instead it feels like some black hole.
That featured image is a painting I just finished in a moment of feelings. (Can you tell I wasn’t thinking about butterflies and rainbows?)
I haven’t felt like this in a long time – months. I thought I was over this; I thought I had it all together.
I feel nauseous as I write this; I’m ashamed and embarrassed. I don’t want to share this because it makes me look weak. But I have to; I know I do. Because, people need to know. You need to know that this can happen to ANYONE and it’s scary. It’s dark and it’s horrifying.
I’m fighting back tears as I type, my hands are full of paint after I threw buckets of paint all over the only blank board I could find. I thought it would help – I needed some kind of release. It did. A little. This writing is helping too.
I’ve learnt that when this comes, when this wave of darkness comes, I need to let it in. I need to look it in the eye and ride the wave. It’s the only way.
Pretending I’m okay is not an option.
My entire body feels numb and hollow. When it started, my heart was beating so fast I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It’s scary.
Suddenly, I get flashes of all the people in my life, people who’ve let me down – who haven’t been there for me. People who pretend that everything is fine. People who’ve been my saving grace. Future. The past. Everything collides and I just want my brain to STOP.
This isn’t something I can hide.
I’m tired of hiding.
This is something we need to talk about now.
Because I know sitting here, there are two friends of mine – close friends, who have also had depression, and who go through it now and then. It’s not something we want to talk about. But we MUST.
My mom left us 6 months ago. There’s been a hole in my heart ever since. Most days I’m okay – I even have her picture on my wall next to my desk. I talk to her every day. But some days, like today – it all hits and I feel like I could literally just sit here and rock myself back and forth and feel like a crazy person. It’s like time stands still and I struggle to take those deep breaths and remind myself that this too shall pass.
I’m a born again Christian, since last year November. My faith and having God and Jesus actively part of my life has helped me so much. I don’t think I’d be able to function and have all these ambitions and joy in my life right now without this hope.
But that’s not to say that it’s all perfect and sunny.
I’m human. There’s a darkness out there that thrives on taking over in the place it has the most power, our minds. And it’s so easy to get there: fear, doubt, anger, resentment, hurt, pain, worry, stress, anxiety, grief.
Depression isn’t something you choose.
It’s not something you snap your fingers and *magic* you’re suddenly not depressed anymore.
You don’t know when it’s going to hit – you don’t know for how long. You can’t explain it to those closest to you and you can’t expect them to understand. It’s an ugly mess that anyone would choose to avoid, if they could.
This time feels different compared to a few months ago – I try not to think about that week. A week when I wasn’t living; I was just going through the motions. Clothes scattered everywhere in one room, not caring how I looked, feeling dead inside. I needed to feel that, I know now that I did. For so many reasons…
- So that I could reach out and talk to someone about it; a professional who helped me so much – one little session was all I needed to know that that wasn’t what I needed.
- So that I could get out of a job that was killing my soul on top of the grief I was feeling.
- So that I could get closer to Jesus in my darkest hours.
- So that I could focus on my marriage again, rebuild relationships with family, and prioritise friends who accept and love me for who I am; who I don’t need to wear a mask for.
I needed to feel that depression so that I could KNOW how it feels. So that I could write about it and share it.
But I didn’t back then, because I was embarrassed.
Worried about what people would think of me. It’s a shameful thing to feel like you’re allowing these feelings in – like you’re weak or something.
When everyone else appears to have it all together.
Nobody wants a “Debbie Downer”. Cheer up. Be grateful for what you have. See the positive side. Other people have it so much worse than you. Be happy.
It’s true. There is a LOT to be thankful for; life is a gift.
But I’m so tired of everyone just faking it and pretending like everything is just fine. Covering up how they really feel, or worse – turning a blind eye because it’s… uncomfortable. I’d like to think that the more people talk about depression and other mental health issues, the more it gets taken seriously. No one needs to be sent to a mental asylum.
What is needed?
Unconditional love, understanding, and connection.A hug. A kind word. Support.
Me? I’ll be fine. After the paint I splashed around and pouring my heart out here, I feel a lot better. Again, I feel like I shouldn’t share this because it’s embarrassing. It’s too personal. It’s not pretty. It’s not fun stuff for people to read.
I write this for anyone who needs to read this – who feels the need to put on a brave face every day. People who appear to have it all together. People you’d never expect to feel this way. I write this in an effort to share a bit of light on a subject that’s not pretty or fun to talk about.
This shit is real.
It’s ugly and messy and dark.
I’m sharing this not for pity or any other reason. For brutal honesty – an inside look at what it’s really like… if only for a minute, if only a tiny fragment. I share this to raise awareness. I share this with the biggest hope that someone reading this today might just reach out to someone else who’s in need of a little extra love.
Depression isn’t something that’s going to disappear with a hug.
Depression is different for everyone.
Sometimes it’s quick and messy. Sometimes it’s long and easily missed.
Sometimes it happens once every four months. Sometimes it happens every day, over a period of years – consciously hidden from those nearest and dearest.
As I sit here, finally calm again and feeling like the storm has almost disappeared, I’m tempted to just delete this post, or not publish it. Therapeutic, job done.
But I’m not going to.
We get to live one life and I am not going to hide and pretend this stuff doesn’t exist just because it’s going to make me look like I don’t know what – silly, weak, attention-seeking… way too personal.
Yes, I know that. But how else do we talk about this stuff? By keeping it secret? By letting the depression counselors handle it? Or, the therapists? NO. That’s not enough.
If it connects with just one person, then I’m prepared to lose some followers or be unfriended or whatever. If someone cringes reading this because it’s too personal, then that’s their problem. Life’s too short.
Let’s stop the people pleasing and perfection, please.
Let’s stop hiding behind all these masks and actually start giving a damn about the stuff that matters. Let’s actually just start loving each other a little more instead of the constant judgement and wishing they’d “just get over it already”.
If you suspect someone who you know is depressed, reach out. Be there. Support. Love. Connect. Research and find ways to try and help. That’s what we’re here for.
I really do believe that we are here to help each other and to love each other.
Shying away from something because it’s hard to read, look at in the face, or honestly acknowledge is giving power to something dark.
Depression is a silent killer that feeds off silence and shame.
To feed the light, we need to speak the truth – no matter how scary it is. Sounds like I’m preaching, but it’s how I feel.
*** NOTE: Please don’t panic if you’re reading this and know me or feel alarmed. Geoff is right here. He knows when to give me space and let me sort my feelings out and I’m so grateful for that and his constant, never ending support. I’m okay. I don’t need to be rushed anywhere. I’m going to lunch with a friend soon where we will be having an honest heart-to-heart, which is exactly what I need. And then, we have a family late lunch/early supper – and that’s needed too. x