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With grief & obsession & full-blown depression

Today, Tuesday the 28th of December (at least for another 64 minutes) is the day that the dark clouds finally started to roll back a bit. On Christmas morning I found myself not wanting to get out of bed or be around anyone... and that is not my 'usual' or 'normal' depression MO. Don't get me wrong, when I am dealing with depression, I love nothing more than a dark room, curtains closed, and for my phone to remain silent. Anything beyond that can somehow send me careening into a darker head space. But Christmas morning was the day that I realized that depression had me by the jugular. I would love to say that this realization terrified me... but anyone who deals with depression can testify that terror can become dulled out and numbness can just sort of elbow its way in. Now depression didn't settle on me Christmas morning. Not at all. It began its slow descent starting right about early November. For me, early November marked a lot of change that I was unprepared for. How was I aware that depression was seeping in? I started to notice that I had more days when I didn't want to be around anyone. I was sleeping plenty of hours but waking up exhausted. I was making ventures to town for groceries and gas and just not noticing the faces around me. I was listening to music but not really hearing any words. I was looking out my window and mostly just staring into space. And my thoughts just sort of kept folding in on one another. There were a few times that I noticed that things didn't feel quite right and that my zest for life was pretty much holding steady at zero... but with all things, I just kept telling myself that this too will pass. Well, it didn't. November was filled with tears, anxiety, dread, fear, restlessness, loneliness, hopelessness, and a whole lot of ugly anger. Hate made its lovely entrance onto the stage of my life and just as times past, I joined the dance. Well, November rolled right into December... and Christmas was kind of a wake up call that something wasn't working. I know that everyone has their own experience of what depression feels like to them... or how they have witnessed depression play out with someone they know or love. The depression that I was dealing with was a bit different than even the depression I dealt with last winter--or the winter before that. Usually I deal with a lot of suicidal ideation when my depression gets bad, and let me tell ya, that is one hell of a scary place to have your mind travel to. But this time, waking up Christmas morning and not wanting to get out of bed, that was almost scarier yet since that is not usual or normal for me at all. I did stay in bed, attempting to process the strong thoughts that were trying to keep me there. It took a hell of a lot of effort to push my legs over the side of my bed and more effort on top of that just to make myself get to my feet. Forcing myself to walk to the bathroom to pee, and then forcing myself onward to the coffee pot was harder still. When I sat down on my couch, coffee cup in hand (a snowman mug no less with Christmas lights twinkling above me) I just felt nothing. I must have sat in the dead silence for two straight hours. I ignored the few Merry Christmas texts that dinged on my phone. I shut out the merriness going on outside my front window with my neighbors ramping up for their holiday gathering. I sat on my couch in my pajamas, my coffee going cold in my mug, for over two straight hours (to be completely honest, it was probably closer to three).

I decided that I would try to take a shower to see if that helped to get me out of the deep dark funk I seemed to be stuck in. The shower helped some... if nothing else, it helped the tears to come to the surface. I cried because I had to get out of bed. I cried because I was exhausted. I cried because the silence was all I wanted even though the silence was making me feel more depressed. I cried because I didn't want to be around anyone. I cried because I wanted to be around everyone. I cried because I couldn't go back in time and just start over when my grown children were small. And that morphed into crying because I wanted to do my pregnancies all over again---and do it better this time. I cried for no reason... and I cried for every reason. But mostly, I just cried because it was starting to scare me that I didn't even have tears to cry before I decided to take a shower. Making myself get dressed for the day and pushing myself out my front door and on the road to Bend required great effort. I must have 'almost' turned my car back around 53 times so that I could just climb back into bed. But I promised myself that I would try to get around people (those people being my family) to see if somehow, someway, something would shift. It didn't happen instantly. It took a lot of effort, a whole lot of deep breaths, and a little bit of kicking myself in my own ass when I wanted to just leave-- to stay the course and hang in until I felt better. And I did. The visiting with everyone was nice. The food was wonderful. The music was soothing and appealing. Then dancing happened (and I hadn't danced in a long time). Then the gift exchange happened which brought a lot of laughter out of everyone. Then we played games and visited some more. And there was pictures, and hugs, and love you's, and snow. And by the time I finally got back home late that night I realized that I was ready to get into bed, but not in a depressed 'stay in bed' kind of way.

I did not wake up the morning after Christmas Day singing with the birds because I was still feeling depressed. Thankfully it wasn't the same level of depression as the day prior, but it hadn't just dissolved away because I forced myself out of the house to join the living. These past few days, I can honestly say that I have felt it lift a little at a time. Today was the first time I could honestly feel like the dark clouds had pushed back a bit. I think hope has bubbled up and I don't know if that is because the depression is finally starting to lift... or if hope bubbles are what causes depression to recede. Honestly, I don't think it matters much as long as it's forward progress.

Now I know a lot of people get real uncomfortable when the subject of depression comes up. And I am a firm believer that everyone has been effected by depression either directly or indirectly... and their experience hasn't been good. Personally, I feel like we don't talk openly about depression enough. So many people are effected by it on so many levels, it is just heartbreaking. Everyone can become so consumed in their own day-to-day struggles that they fail to notice those who might be struggling around them. Heck... I even shared my fear of the level of depression I have been dealing with and it went right on by someone else's notice. They just kept on with their own pain. And yes, I get that we live in a world where everyone is dealing with their own pain... but wouldn't it be nice to feel like you mattered to even just one person?! I am not angry, or hurt, or bitter that they just kept walking along in their own pain--but I will admit it does alter the level of trust I have in that relationship. And it might for you too (hugs!).

Over the past couple of months, while I have been walking through my own depression struggle, I have been inclined toward a different level of awareness of how depression effects others. Some of the most common reasons I have heard or read shared about why someone who is feeling depressed does not reach out to someone to share or to ask for help are:

I don’t want to be a burden.

I don’t want to appear weak; I am supposed to be strong.

It is easier & safer to just isolate.

Other people are more focused on ‘fixing’ my problem than on just listening to me.

My depression is used against me.

I hate (hate) hearing someone say, ‘Again?’.

I’m sick of hearing ‘Just get over it. Snap out of it. You have nothing to be down about’.

I am constantly being told that others have it much worse than me.

Judgement from others.

No one understands how I feel when I feel depressed.

I am done being told, ‘You’ll be fine’.

Fear of being dismissed or feeling invalidated.

I don't know about you, but this list of reasons breaks my heart. Quite a few I can personally relate to or have told myself. People who are struggling, who are in pain, who are sitting in darkness with thoughts of suicide or self-harm, feel alone. They feel like they have no one to turn to. They have given up hope on feeling anything more than what they are feeling right now. And that is such a tragedy. And what ends up compounding that tragedy is that one of the top reasons why recovering from a depressive spell is so hard is because of the clean up that comes after. Cleaning up a house that has went to shit. Cleaning up relationships that took a backseat. Cleaning up hygiene that was neglected. Cleaning up eating habits, exercise routines, or social activities. Knowing... and this is the hard pill to swallow, that once clean up is done (or even close to done) a new depressive spell might seep right in causing all of the clean up to become undone... until this new depressive spell has passed.

Depression is so real and it effects so many. It saddens me that it isn't talked about more openly or accepted more readily. If you know someone who struggles with depression, I urge you to make yourself available. The most loving thing you can do is just to offer your time... not your judgement, your opinion, your fix, your resolution, your outcome, or your prejudice. Just listen without having to respond. Ask if it is okay for you to touch your friend or family member. Ask how you can help. Be available to pick up the phone or to answer that text. Be willing to drive across town even if you don't feel like it. No one wants to face depression alone.. even if they isolate just to cope. Give someone you care about or love the ability to be honest about their depression and how it feels to them. I guarantee the time you invest will help them and it will change you <3. #depression #depressivespells #depressionisastruggle

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