I wrote a post during a particularly dark day last week, and I've been debating with myself whether or not to post it. It's not edifying (so maybe don't read it if you're in a bad place yourself); it could be classed as whinging or an attempt to get "You're not like that!" comments, which is the last thing I want. In the end, though, I've decided to post it, because it might help someone understand what a loved one with clinical depression is going through.
* * *
There are strange times you go through with depression where you care about everything and nothing at the same time. Today was one of those days.
Having to keep your brain focused long enough to get some work done is draining, but then, when you go to relax, frustration kicks in because you just can't enjoy anything or do what you want to do.
Reading or watching TV or a movie is an impossible chore, and especially difficult if the material is emotionally demanding. I find myself mindlessly scrolling through my social-media feeds again and again, seeing none of them. Incoming emails make me cringe, and then I just can't bring myself to reply.
The future looks mind-deadeningly blank to me. But it's frightening.
I've somehow put on another kilo, and that is devastating, but at the same time I don't care anymore. I'll eat something else I shouldn't because it's one of the only joys in life right now.
I put on a romantic comedy because they're fairly mindless – you know, one of those bad Hallmark-style, holiday-themed ones on Netflix. I want so much what the heroine ends up with, but I have to tell myself off because I'll probably never get married now and shouldn't get my hopes up again. And that physically hurts, even though I thought I'd done my grieving and accepted it. I feel the pain in my fingers. I always do. I don't know why.
My roots need doing, but I don't have the spare energy, and who cares, anyway? It's not like I have anyone to impress, and even if I did, they'd never notice my middle-aged-librarian-ness over the extra 50 kg I'm carrying around and the dead-fish personality.
It helps to write these thoughts down. My psychologist tells me I need to challenge them, but they thing is, they're true.
"OK," she'd say, "they may be true, but are they helpful?"
I don't know.
One thing that intrigued me about the movie Inside Out was the acknowledgement that sadness has its place. If I still lived in a delusion where I thought all my dreams were going to come true because I work hard and try always to think of other people ahead of myself and be generous and dedicated and faithful, I'd be disappointed every day. If I look ahead and realise that I may never be able to have my own home, or a job I enjoy that pays me enough to meet my budget, or a group of friends who get me and want to make music with me, or a husband, maybe I can deal with that pain and focus on what I can control.
But that only works on the days when everything goes well, my eating doesn't blow out of control, I don't get a migraine and my brain behaves itself. And that's not today. On those days, the pain is back, radiating from the centre of my chest to my fingertips.
What do I do on those days?
The only thing I can do: I live through them.
I carry on. Keep moving. Take a bird's-eye view and remember that this bad patch won't last forever. They never do.
To everything there is a season.
Turn, turn, turn. . .
I cling to the hope that one day I'll be useful to someone, not useless; that I'll bring joy to someone instead of sucking the joy out of the room; that people will be pleased to see me and want to hang out with me; that I'll have overcome some of the obstacles in front of me. Let's start with one: today.