This is Part Two of The Depro Diaries . Read Part One here.
I’m in esteemed company when it comes to living with Depression.
Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin, T.S. Eliot, Isaac Newton, Robin Williams, Mozart, Kafka, Nietzsche, Charles Dickens, Abraham Lincoln, Leonard Cohen… The list goes on and on.
There are the famously depressed, the infamously depressed and then just the hundreds of millions of the ordinary. Like me.
I’ve lived with Depression most of my life. It comes and goes like the ebb and flow of Nature. I can’t predict its arrival. I’m never sure when it will leave.
Do I loathe it? Yes and no.
I hate that I stop functioning when it arrives. That my entire day is painstakingly centered around getting out of bed, shuffling around in a fog, not being bothered with even getting dressed. I hate the unstoppable refrain that whirls around in my head all day long. “Your life is over! You’ll never feel happy again! It’s all a colossal waste of time. Give up now. Why bother anyway?”
Concerned people tell me that it’s all not true. Yes, I know it’s all not true of course. I’m depressed, not f***ing stupid!
I despair of the platitudes that get expressed. I really don’t need anymore unsolicited advice. Most people cannot begin to understand how specific chemicals in my brain render me a useless slob with no hope for the future.
I must point out at this stage that this article in no way seeks to offer medical advice on a subject as vast as Depression. What I’m writing about concerns my journey with Depression. Everyone’s struggle is different. Some may have mild depression, some may need to be medicated, some may require hospitalisation for a time, some may get through it on their own, some may need extended therapy. Always seek medical advice and the help of a trained professional.
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s get back to those basics.
Please don’t minimize my feelings.
Don’t tell me to “pull myself together” and to “push through it.”
I simply cannot, OK!
I know that fresh air and brisk walks and drinking lots of water and eating healthy and getting enough sleep will help. I really do know this. I’m somewhat of an expert on my condition. It’s just, right now, I can’t make it past the front door without feeling like I’m going to die. My family knows it won’t last too long (I hope) and muck in with meals and feeding themselves.
My bed becomes the hub of the home with teenage daughters sharing YouTube videos and regaling me with stories and showering me with hugs and kisses. The cats lie within arms reach for a scratch and a reminder that I’m needed… for noms at least!
I take the prescription medication, have for years. I see my therapist regularly. I cope when Depression arrives, like an uninvited house guest. I have learned to identify the triggers, but I’m occasionally blindsided and left reeling as the thick, black, cloying fog rolls in and renders me mute and sad and hopeless.
I almost never share my depressive episodes with people and generally withdraw into my cave.
But, when I do reach out, please don’t try to fix me. We’re all broken, some just more than others.
Give me a hug if you see me. Ignore my unwashed hair and wrinkled clothes. Send me a message telling me that you’re thinking of me. Don’t try to force me to get out of bed, I like it here, it’s safe right now. Pray for me. Help practically by dropping off a meal or some chocolate. Respect my space and please don’t take my withdrawing personally.
The company of the famous has helped me over the years to learn to regard depression as a gift of sorts; but, I’ll share more of that in a future edition of the Depro Diaries.
I will be back. Stronger, wiser.
This too shall pass…
Dawn Meysel hails from South Africa. Wife, Mother of Twins, lover of books, her bed, her family, her two Zen Masters (her cats) and chocolate. She’s astounded by love and grace, appalled at hatred and injustice. Intrepid seeker of Truth, student of the soul and spirituality, counselor, friend. She’s a novice student of yoga, a vegetarian, animal rights activist and non flakey in the nicest way! She lives by two mottoes, “This too shall pass” and “Now, with God’s help, I shall become myself.”
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Ed: Sara Crolick