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April 23, 2014

What Depression Deals: Better than Okay, even when Life is Dark. ~ Nicole Qualtieri

Depression

Normalcy of Depression.

I am writing this on a Sunday morning: I have slept for most of the past forty-eight hours.

It was a dog-in-dream-state sleep, where my paws are running and I am chasing something and I wake up in a state of complete aloneness. Nothing in hand. Locked in a shroud of exhaustion.

I don’t have anything to be this exhausted over. My job is simple and the opposite of mentally taxing, and I enjoy it for the most part. I generally take care of myself, eat well, sleep normal hours. I drink occasionally but rarely to excess. The Montana weather has recently started to turn towards spring so I’ve been spending time outside, getting both sun and exercise.

I’m not sick with anything that is manifesting itself physically. No fever, no congestion, nothing that I can feel. Just a simple tension headache that isn’t even painful. It feels as if I am wearing a hat that is just a tiny bit too tight, pressing against my eyebrows, around my temples, and into the back of my skull.

But I am tired. I am tired for one thousand men and women. I am tired beyond explanation.

This happens very rarely for me, but it is a lock-and-key part of my depression that is occasionally reopened and I stand on the edge of my own universe in a way that is completely void of emotion. It is simply filled with everything that was and everything that will be and—when facing it—I become immensely tired.

Why do I write about this? Why am I compelled to do so? Who am I to share my own story?

I have to write about my mental illness because it’s hard to find similar experiences in print. When I consider the published stories of mental illness that are familiar in our culture, it’s all about the extreme sides of it. Schizophrenia. Bipolar.  Manic states. Suicide. Narcissism. Intense personality disorders.

For those of us that deal with the more benign stages of mental illness, the extremes occur on comparatively minute levels. We live with our disorders every day. We are confronted with the task of managing our disorders, and we are also faced with the social scrutiny that these disorders may cost us in both personal and professional relationships. Mostly because the manifestations of our disorders are misinterpreted.

She’s a flake. He has issues with consistency. She doesn’t always follow through. He seems like he’s on another planet.

I work really hard to maintain homeostasis in my life. I know I can’t be the only one. Some days, it’s all I can do to complete the most basic of tasks. The unstated aspect of all of this is that I am ruthless with myself. I know everything that I should be doing and I’m well aware of everything that I’m not doing. It is less a state of self-pity (although I occasionally indulge) and more a state of self-judgment. It’s a part of the process at this point. I am learning to be gentler with myself, but it might be the most difficult part of my own battle.

I didn’t want to sleep for two days straight. I had a to-do list of fun and epic activities for the weekend. I was going to go skiing and participate in a rock paper scissors tournament. I was going to work on my Kickstarter video for my Continental Divide project. I was going to reorganize my gallery wall to incorporate some awesome new art my sister sent for my thirtieth birthday. What I did manage to get done was my laundry and my grocery shopping. Some days that’s the best I can do.

Who am I to share my own story? I think about that question a lot. I am not braver, stronger, or more courageous. I am simply a person who was born with the need to tell. I have sought many outlets for this telling, but the one place that I always seem to come back to is the place where my words are both naked and honest:

I slept for most of the past forty-eight hours. I live with my depression on a daily basis. Some days it’s all I can do to get out of bed, put my shoes on, and walk out the door.

But I’m trying. And for the most part I am better than okay.

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Apprentice Editor: Edith Lazenby/Editor: Jenna Penielle Lyons

Image: Flickr Creative Commons

 

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Nicole Qualtieri