Or, maybe it is.
I don't usually scratch the surface on my blog/twitter feed/facebook updates/general web presence. I keep it light, yo. But after convergence of events over the last few months, and some blogs posts I've read over the last few days, and one that showed up in my reader this morning, I'm going heavy today. Bear with me.
Before I begin, if you have time, please read these posts. Or, if you don't have time right now, go back and read them later. They are more eloquent and more moving in their honesty and hope and beauty than I hope to be here.
- My beautiful friend Kerri, saying things you shouldn't say.
- The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson, walking the tightrope, being furiously happy about it.
- Cleolinda, a blogger I hadn't previously heard of, but whose take I love.
- Kate Hart, author and fellow Arkansan, on her lower-case year.
- And again, The Bloggess, who keeps fighting.
For most of my adult life (and certainly most of my teen years), I have been dealing with depression and anxiety.
|Marc Davis' concept art for Disney's Haunted Mansion|
I say dealing with, instead of suffering or fighting, because that's exactly what I've been doing. Just dealing with them. Dog-paddling against them. Ignoring them. Making a strange bed-fellows out of them.
I have never been suicidal (except for maybe once in junior high, but who wasn't suicidal in junior high?), and I don't self-harm. I've never had an eating disorder accompany my depression, except maybe eating my feelings. If my feelings were covered in chocolate or cheese or ranch dressing.
For clinical purposes, I have mild depression and an anxiety disorder. But I've come to believe that depression is never mild. It affects each person, and the people who love them, differently, and it's rarely mild. Everyone has blue periods, everyone finds themselves in funks. Not everyone suffers from depression. My funks, for as long as I can remember, were cyclical. Every 6 or 8 weeks, I'd falter. I would hole up inside my head and think about how crappy my life was. Jenny Lawson, and countless others, have spoken out about how depression is a liar. An ugly, stinking, rotten liar. My life has rarely been actually crappy. But depression doesn't care about actuality.
My personality and temperament is such that I am most comfortable radiating a giggly, happy light. I tend to surround myself with smart, funny people. It irritates the fire out of me when people are constantly complaining about their luck/lack/life.
I feel like a person split in half. The A side who really is truly happy and satisfied and who is pleasant and shiny and who dances a lot. And the B side who can't do anything right, who wants to run away for every else's benefit, who is a poor mother and a worse wife, a girl dark and twisty.
In the past, I have tried to fix myself half-assedly. I would casually mention to my doctor that I was feeling down. I would exercise with abandon... for a few days. I would eat healthy foods and root myself in routine... for a little while. I would immerse myself in reading/napping/mommying.
It wasn't until the summer of 2011 that my best friend of ten years, a brilliant and hilarious woman with a Master's degree in psychology, finally convinced me to purposefully say something to someone and find some way to get better. In August, with the cheerleading of my tireless husband, I worked up the courage (and oh, what courage it takes to admit you aren't a fully functional human person) to tell my ob/gyn, of all people, that I wanted help. Instead of the judgement, the wary-eyes, the heavy sigh, and the pen scratching notes on my record that I expected, he simply asked, "What's going on?" After we talked for a few minutes, he said the most blessed words I'd heard in a very long time.
"Let's fix you."
Through the miracle of modern medicine and with shoulders unburdened, I walked out of his office with a prescription for some anti-depressant/anti-anxiety drugs and a sleeping pill. Because on top of the evil twins of anxiety and depression, I'd been given the repeated face-punch of insomnia.
It took me well over a decade to understand that the pull to sleep for days at a time is not just fatigue.
To realize that the apathy toward my appearance is not just because I'm not a girly-girl.
That the funky times weren't just when I was about to get my period and was all moody and stuff.
That my lack of energy and my aversion to keeping the house/laundry/dishes clean wasn't just laziness.
That staying home and avoiding the public at large for days on end wasn't just a quirky eccentricity allowed me by my heritage as a quirky, eccentric Southern woman.
Oh, what a difference a few pills have made. I haven't had any funks worth mentioning since August. I have been a better, more attentive mother. I have been less gripey toward my patient, loving husband. I've worked harder at working harder.
I would be an idiot to think that medication has been my sole savior. My mother, who revealed to me that crazy does in fact run in our family, has been incredibly supportive. My best friend has talked me off more emotional ledges than I can count. My supportive circle of friends make me laugh and don't mind if I send them expletive-filled text messages. My husband has been nothing short of incredible- taking charge of the Bees when I need an hour or three alone, sending me off on faraway adventures, making me mashed potatoes when I don't feel like eating anything of real substance, shielding me against curious glances and cutting words from people in our lives who just. don't. get it. And mostly, he never left me when I was entrenched deep inside Crazytown.
But (wo)man doesn't live on people and heavily-buttered bread alone. Time and time again over the past six months I have gone back to Scripture, to prayer, to the Truth I've always known. You've heard that cute little maxim, "Let go and let God"? Well, what's too long to be considered a cute little maxim is that you have to let go and let God over and over and over and over and over and probably over again. Sometimes the only light I could see through the haze of worry and sadness was God. Even when I felt far away, and sinful and useless and broken, I knew I wouldn't be deserted. My faith kept me afloat more than any little white pills and bowls of popcorn ever could.
The thing about being broken is that there is hope for repair.
The very idea of brokenness springs from the notion that something once was whole. There have been bleak times where I've felt that there were vital pieces of me missing, shattered, irreparable. There is still a dark bit lurking for its opportunity to spring into fullness, to send me to bed, to break my heart.... but for now, and hopefully for a very long time to come- through prayer and patience and pills- it has been relegated to a tiny hidden part of me. Like, my little toe or somewhere.
It just took a working-up of courage, one small request for help, and several pounds of
2012 is looking awfully bright right now.