It’s 11:30 PM and I’m standing in the aisle staring at the frozen food chest. Ralph is trying to find me something, some convenience parcel I will find tasty, perhaps Amy’s Indian cuisine, palak paneer? He’s so tender and he’s been so stubbornly sweet that after several hours of his ministrations it’s almost like I’m finally going to crack and cry. It’s been easier to spend the day committed to not expressing feeling, but that can only last so long.
Depression consumes everything. It dampens joy, aggravates worries and anxieties. My five or fifty minutes late. The project that doesn’t turn out perfect. The project I decide not to do. The project that turns out well enough, but took away time I could have done something else. The friend who doesn’t respond to my messages. Any pain my children suffer, ever. Anything out of place. Anything I could have done better, or smarter, or earlier. Anything one could possibly blame me for, depression is on it.
Nothing is immune. There are wonderful things in my life but it devours them in its slow-chapp’d power. I feel better for a few moments then later I feel nothing but panic and anxiety but more to the point dread, and considering how many people support me and love me I feel ashamed to let them down. But for more than a few moments at a time, it’s impossible to feel good about myself. Even when I accomplish something well, or when I’m reminded aloud or implicitly I’m a Good Person. I worry by not being happier I’m going to lose my friends, one by one, but I know I could only fake happiness in any case. For now.
That relates to this space here. I’ve felt pressure not to write about depression, sadness. I worry I sound boring. Or like I’m trying to get attention. Neither of these are true; I write because it has always helped me more than almost anything; and yes, I do get enough attention, really. But the feeling persists: no one wants to hear this. It is tiresome. And rather pathetic, besides. Make something up, something better.
Then I think what the hell. No one is required to read here, Ever. Also: I’m really sorry if my suffering inconveniences people. I typed that sarcastically but I rather mean it. I don’t actually want to inconvenience people, and I’m not even sure I can meet this meager goal. I don’t want to be given up on. I want my friends to think enough of me not to pull back, I want them to tell me if they need something different. Maybe I’ll be able to handle it, maybe I won’t. I want them to try, if so moved.
It helps me very much to have others. I know that cleaning the house, preparing food (for my family and other people), doing right by my children and my husband, these are things I can do in the space where I am No One. It grounds me. It feels like the part that is really Me, the awareness there even while my brain tries to tell me terrible, horrible things about myself.
At the store with my husband and son, now, I’m saved by a stranger. “This is embarassing, but can you help?” a handsome, very tall man with a long braid asks us as he approaches. “My girlfriend sent me with a grocery list and she doesn’t know I can’t read.” He holds forth a scrawled piece of paper listing a few items, including something amazing and crystal clear: “Marionberry Pie Ice Cream”.
I kick into action. Friendly voice and accommodation, I could do this in my sleep. Help people? I know how. If I can just keep doing things I won’t have terrible thoughts.
It works pretty well until it doesn’t. But then it works again, later.
The bus, Grays Harbor Transit, just as I’m feeling about to puke:
“Saved” by a stranger seems apropos. What a graceful demonstration he gave- effectively asking for help from a stranger with a challenge (illiteracy) that many adults find limiting and debilitating and keep as a dark secret. His girlfriend doesn’t even know. Revealing his vulnerability to you just enough to meet his needs, but not yet ready, perhaps not yet safe enough to share so deeply with his closest loved one.
Hope to see you today 🙂
I’m so grateful for what you give here, especially your honesty. It’s not boring or inconvenient, just true.
I know I’ve said this before – but I’m there with you. The only difference between me and the sort of darkness that you experience (the kind that I used to experience) is medication. But if I look back I can remember feeling so powerless in the face of the depression -especially when Scott was gone, since that’s when I felt it most. You’re so lucky to have Ralph there. And you’re right – it’s doing the things for the others we love, watching them be happy even as we are wistfully wishing we had that sort of joy in ourselves, that helps find a moment or two away from the wretched sadness. I still have those moments every now and then.
So while maybe it doesn’t mean much in the grander scheme, some of your readers don’t mind and can relate. And we appreciate your candor. Making something up might be more interesting but it would be less real. I’d rather read what’s real.
You are never boring or inconvenient. And I’ve found in my own journey that actively helping other people is really the only panacea to my great longing to just curl up in a ball and die most days. You’re right on the mark with that one. Will Spring help?
Hi, I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now. I think, but can’t remember, I came to find it through another blog devoted to fat acceptance/haes…some such…not sure, but it was POSITIVE, I know this much…
I’m from Australia, a little town in the state of New South Wales…a cold and misty town a lot of the time, and that is how I like it. I see comparisons with your own environment there. I have a husband and 2 children, boy and girl. We had a third child, but she died though complete lack of care and understanding from our local hospital. When a woman knows and understands her own body but is not allowed to take control of the birth of her child, it can end in heartbreak, and it did.
I love your writing and your sewing, your meals, your commentary about life, the way you talk about and cherish your family. I feel a kinship I know doesn’t exist in reality, but it allows me to feel there is someone in the world not unlike myself.
I wold not normally comment, I don’t have much to say and I am not particularly eloquent nor do I have illuminating thoughts or anything “new” to say. However this recent post has brought up so many things I keep hidden away, and how your express your depression almost completely mirrors my own feelings. I’m not here to tell you how to change anything, I haven’t a clue. I don’t take medication, I see no therapist. I haven’t discovered one or many things that make a difference. Little things yes, things look up, then down again, I get happy, I get sad, I get mad, I get black. I don’t know how to or if I can change. I like living, I will not chose death, but sometimes I feel like a walking black cloud, with very little emotion. I live each day, because it is what works for me, but the living is hard, and I want more.
I love my husband, he is a good man, but he doesn’t know how to help. Unlike Ralph, he is not “tender, nor stubbornly sweet”, he is kind, but to a degree. He thinks I am brilliant and wonderful and gets so mad at me for not seeing this. He can’t minister to me, he wants to fix me, when all I sometimes want is a soft voice and a kind soul in which to find comfort. I cannot be fixed, I know this now. I am 40 and have had a long life of feeling this way. I love life, I do…but…there is always a but…
Thank you for your honesty, I found comfort there. A stranger, so be it.
Ladies, thanks for reaffirming it is not a mistake for me to write what I do. And @luckychrm, thanks for the swim date today. It was wonderful for all of us.
“Will Spring help?” Yes. I think so. Hard to say for sure but given how much I have been responding to sunlight, I think it will. I really do. Thank you for reading and responding. I tell myself all feelings are temporary, even the bad ones. I’m not sure what to do with the negative thoughts. I keep patiently trying to disbelieve them, and reflect on positive thoughts instead.
Thank you so much for your comment. I need to bookmark this. The next time I feel afraid to write what’s on my mind and in my heart.
“I havenâ€™t discovered one or many things that make a difference.”
I get so angry sometimes when people trivialize depression – or any other illness, condition, addiction, mental health issue – etc. “Eat some chocolate”, “get exercise”. It’s that “fixing” thing. I get angry. No one knows me as well as I do. I just want to be listened and heard. I think people are too scared of suffering. They don’t realize how unhelpful it is to prescribe “cures” (usually ones we’ve already tried).
I am so sad for the loss of your third child.
I hope you keep reading. Thank you so much, again, for your comment. I am always so grateful when a reader identifies his/herself and tells me something about who he/she is.
I love it when people, you included, tell their experience. Not in some creepy “i validate you!” kind of way. I just hate the fake everything-is-always-fine living, because that’s not the truth. Everything is not always fine. On the other hand, a lot of things and times and days and minutes are totally fucking amazing. I have respect for people who can experience both ends of the spectrum and in between too. your experience, no matter what it is, can be of use to others, and I would way rather have you write something real than write something that seems like it would be pleasant.
You and your writing have made me a better parent. I have already been a good parent. Thanks to you, I think I can be a great parent. In fact, I’m becoming a better person every day thanks to you sharing your life experiences. You have also helped me to understand myself better.
My entire life I have known that kids are people, but I always accepted their treatment as second-class citizens as “just the way it is”. I’m having trouble putting it into words, but it feels so great to finally view kids on the level of “person”. That is to say that kids are entitled to be who they are and pursue what they love without being knocked down every time they are inconvenient for an adult. I’ve always known it, but I’ve always submitted to the expectations of others. Now I see those expectations for what they are. Thanks to you, at least one more kid will live a happier life.
hey dear Kelly, just a hug. It’s hard to feel like this, it’s brave to write about it. Another hug. Thanks for being Kelly. Hug again.
When I read your post yesterday, the song Road to Nowhere by the Talking Heads sprung to mind and stayed with me as the imagery and life experience shared through your writing bounced around my head during my morning routine. I choose not to share the song in my comment, because I thought it might be interpreted as an existential band-aid for a deep wound that isn’t asking for care: life is meaningless baby, it’s alright! [cue cheerful, finger snapping, bouncy music]
However, when I listen to and sing this song, I am profoundly connected to an awareness that is felt by many but explicated by few: life is absurd, painful, and confusing, but somehow “sharing that ride” introduces hope and love even without erasing or healing the source of the angst. For me, the tune (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWtCittJyr0) is joyfully uplifting; particularly the chorale segments which illustrate the power in voices joined together, as the song illustrates the potential for connection through joining in life by sharing our pain.
My favorite line, “I’m feeling OK this morning, and you know/ We’re on a road to paradise, here we go/ here we go”
@Kidsync @Shelley @Josh @luckychrm
Thank you so much for your comments. I’m increasingly glad I wrote and posted. It wasn’t easy to decide to do it. I want to be brave.
<3. More later on this. Ask me how I fought my shrink over the right to come off of antidepressants.
just sayin’ I think I get where you are. It’s hard. We should talk.
Reading. Loving. I am reminded of a Pema Chodron quote that I replay often in my head.
“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.”
It is your ability to expose yourself here, to be vulnerable in this way, that makes you a person that I admire so much for your strength.
Yes, we should talk!
That is an incredible quote and I see much truth in it (or at least my interpretation therein).
And thank you for the acknowledgment, and comment.