I used to think of depression as poetic, maybe even romantic.
Crying softly into the chest of a boyfriend, having the tears tenderly brushed away, being rescued from the sadness much like you see in the films, waiting for your hero.
No one prepares us for the reality.
Last week a bout of depression crept up on me and wrapped me into its deceiving hold. Normally presenting itself as a numbness, a disinterest in everything and a lot of ‘I don’t know what’s wrong’ which is manageable for the most part. This time however, it washed over me like a never ending sadness. Ugly crying played the main part, supported by puffy eyes and a special appearance made by snot and dribble.
I sat in bed, I could feel it brewing but couldn’t bring myself to try and escape it’s grip. So I continued to sit, almost welcoming it. Tony (my husband) tried to get me up, tried to take my mind off of the approaching darkness, he tries so hard and I will never doubt his love or support, but I could see him getting frustrated. I can’t blame him, I don’t understand it myself so how can I explain it to him? But we muddle through, messily.
But this is the thing; we believe that someone will come along and love us. They will pick up the pieces, kiss the scars and just like that our depression will be gone. Even on that horrendous day, I pictured Tony picking me up and whispering soft words until the sadness passed, I imagined him bunking off work to sit with me and watch rubbish films until I fell into a snotty slumber. The reality? He called up my work to tell them I wouldn’t be able to come in and then he headed off to his own job and now I think about it, that’s all the support I could ask for from him.
Our loved ones can support us, they can suggest, they can give us tips and tricks to stop us sinking lower, heck, they can even make us soup, but the way their love is given will never be as neat or as romantic as it is in films and stories. It’s messy, it’s arguments, it’s misunderstanding and that’s okay! The real work? That has to come from within.
Where do you even begin? counselling, therapy, talking? Those are always good but sometimes that means waiting around for an appointment or building up the courage to start.
Yoga, tea drinking, journals, exercise, getting yourself out, to work, to see friends? Yes, good stuff! But let’s be honest, sometimes it’s a challenge to even brush your teeth.
What did I do during those days of depression? I sat, I didn’t work, I needed time to reassess. Of course getting yourself out and getting yourself to work is advised, but sometimes you need a bit of time. So I sat and I thought ‘What makes me sad?’ I wrote down a list. Then I thought ‘what makes me happy? what brings me joy? what fills up my soul?’ I wrote another list. Now my task is to look at that list of happiness and try to do a couple of those things each day. Sure, some are bigger, more long term goals which I will be keeping in the back of my mind. But the others, the smaller ones, I try to stick to, each day. I’m sure the sadness will return from time to time and no doubt, it can be so so hard to move through, but it’s my job to overcome it. I can ask for help of course, I can be supported through it, I can be loved and guided by those that love me but, essentially, I will come to my own rescue and I will be my own hero.