Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lessons from My Brain

You know when you learn a new word and suddenly you see/hear it everywhere? They say you're just more aware of it now because you finally know what it means.

I thought I knew what the word "depression" meant. When do you learn about that? Middle school? Probably sooner for some kids. Depression, I thought, was what happened to some people, sometimes, when they become very sad and down and need to go to doctors to help them get better.

As we got older, they started with all those dang pharmaceutical commercials. But I bet we all learned a little better what depression is. "Where does depression hurt?" But like so many things in life, you don't really know until you've been there.

I linked to some posts recently that probably were a bit of a buzz kill to some. I think it made my family nervous. Then, after my "depression coming out post" (term credited to mooshinindy's recent tweet), I'm sure it made a little more sense to people. I've read so many depression coming out posts since then. I feel like they're everywhere, all of a sudden. They all sound exactly the same. Well, not exactly. I seem to like to slap myself upside the head with how much worse everyone else has it. Horror stories of NICUs, fantasies of hurting self or child, so many health problems that I'm so happy we've been blessed not to have to survive.

But I try not to let myself play the who-has-it-worse or, even more fun, who-deserves-to-feel-depressed game because it's stupid and I never win anyway. We've had our share of hard times. My baby's healthy, but I scare easy, and we had a rough start. We moved across the country. The Husband is in a new job. We're in a new, small town. We've been sick with virus after virus after virus. After virus. My back went out. I haven't slept. We have carpenter bees, and water damage in an outer wall, and dangerous wiring that had to be replaced, and ticks in the yard, and some kind of orange lawn rust disease, and a flooding dishwasher, and no refrigerator when there was supposed to be one, and somewhat shoddy construction in our utility room, and cracking kitchen tile, and asbestos under that tile, and no smoke detectors, and our car gave up the ghost, and the borrowed car was broken into, and the Husband's laptop was stolen, and oh yeah the identity theft, after virus after virus, and my back went out again. And the ten baby pounds I can't lose. Probably because I'm depressed and therefore want to eat all day. And the separation anxiety of the Papoosekin kept me out of the gym until very, very recently. Bah.

And then there are things that the Husband and I have endured that no one knows about, and no one will, and neither will you, Internet, because everyone has skeletons. But man, they weigh you down.

That's my inventory of Why Things Suck. I know I've left some out. Probably a lot. They sneak up on you, and depression sneaks up on you, and you wake up one morning and realize you never want to get out of be anymore (I used to POP out of bed, even on weekends, raring to go. Drove the Husband nuts.). And then you find yourself crying on your baby while she's trying to nurse. And you're biting your husband's head off like some demented preying mantis (praying mantis?). And you can't identify what's actually wrong.

And you're only one in a gazillion mamas, all in their own, isolated little boats!

When did all these mamas get depressed? Ninny, they've been everywhere, always, you're only just noticing because now you're one of them. Parenting's hard. Hormones suck. Depression sneaks up on you. And this is what else I've learned about it:
  1. You're convinced you're alone, but you're not.
  2. At least half your friends have battled depression, even if you don't know about it.
  3. It feels exactly like you're wrapped in seran wrap: you can see everyone and everything around you, you can see all the good things and good people and love that's out there, but none of it can touch you. That's stolen from another blogger, but I have no idea whom. (If you recognize it, let me know, I'm happy to link to and credit them)
  4. Nothing is wrong and everything is wrong all at the same time, and you will never be able to explain this to your husband, much to both of your dismay.
  5. The last thing you want to do is talk about it. You want someone else to notice and then save you. If they do, you're lucky. Most likely you just have to wait for it to get bad enough that your common sense gets so freaked out that it screams loud enough to make itself heard through the haze.
  6. There are good days and bad days and the good days may come all in a flood of sunshine and rainbows and kittens and make you feel like yourself for the first time in months and it will feel so good and so right and maybe you're not even actually sick after all? and then BOOM! You get knocked on your ass so hard and so fast and with no warning, and let that be a lesson to you. Depression does not up and walk away one day. DO NOT cancel your appointment with the doctor because things seem rosy again. It's an illusion. Things are crap and you need help.
  7. You cannot will yourself out of depression.
  8. Depression and anxiety can be hereditary. This information doesn't necessarily help, but it's interesting.
  9. You can still smile and laugh when you're depressed. This may fool people around you into thinking the other times are just bad days. This can be good if you're trying to fool people. It can be bad if you're begging someone to notice.
  10. It takes a lot of guts to start talking. For me it came out of desperation. But once you do, it's sooooo much easier. Then you want to talk about it a lot because you're so happy not to feel so alone and to feel like someone (finally!) gets it! In fact, a lot of someones get it. Which is both sad and heartening.
Part of me wants to apologize for all the doom and gloom I've posted recently. My three readers probably get sick of it. And part of me is absolutely not sorry at all because this is important and I started this blog for me, not to become one of the famous bloggers who pays their mortgage with their blog. Although, now that I think about it, many of them start this way. But anyway. Things will get cheerier around here when I do. And it will happen, I know. Hopefully, you'll still be with me when it does. At any rate, I'll still be here.

1 comment:

die Frau said...

I will be with you all the way, no matter what, for as long as you need me. Trust in that every single day.

The "saran wrap" comment came from someone responding to Finslippy on her "What's going on" post, I believe.

Thank you for sharing and demystifying depression for me--I've had it but I didn't realize it until I got sad enough to make major changes and then looked back months later and thought, "Wow, I think I was clinically depressed there." I was in a total fog, all the time. I watched "Crossing Over with John Edwards" religiously. It was bad. I don't mean to act flip (does anyone use that term anymore, "flip"?). I just want you to know that you've cleared up a lot for me, and hopefully for yourself.

You want to remember as well that, as one responder to Finslippy wrote, during and after pregnancy you have a lot of wacky hormones that I would guess contribute to this, too. So it's not like Feather Nester can't hack it/has something wrong or deficient.

I'm so, so glad you're working your way through this. We'll all go with you as much as you need us to, as long as it takes. Love you, SJ.