Two years ago, I wrote a series on Things You’re Not Supposed to Say (or at least out loud). I told the world that motherhood doesn’t make you special and alone time seemed pretty great to me. The piece I wrote that got the most response, though, was “I Had Depression.”
A few people wrote blog comments, but so many sent me private messages, emails and texts, “Me too!”
I made a mistake when I wrote it. I put it in past tense. See, depression is like the Marines. It’s always present tense. It’s a sneaky sucker. It waits until there’s a crack in your shell, and then it slithers in. You almost never see it coming.
One day you wake up and everything is gray, your brain is in a thick soup and life is noisy and intolerable. The only possible way to keep breathing is just pull the covers over your head and wait…for what I’m not sure, but something to make it stop being so unbelievable awful to be alive.
That’s what happened last week. Nothing was all that different. I had the usual amount of family junk that makes me a little nutty. But I was taking my meds the way I have for years. And I was eating and drinking in normal quantities.
But Charlie was out of town. That made things worse. I cannot explain why or how, but when I’m not doing well, something about him breathing the same air as me makes me better. Daylight Saving Time happened, which is a whole other rant. (Just leave it one way or another! Stop hopping back and forth.)
Since I couldn’t crawl under my covers like I desperately wanted to, I kept doing the things I was supposed to be doing. More accurately, I did the absolute bare minimum of things that had to be done to get by.
In the course of the week, I saw some friends who took one look at me and knew. They knew all my jokes and tap dancing and covering mechanisms were just that: covering. They knew my regular back stop wasn’t around. So they did what friends do: They talked to me. They ate with me. They checked in on me. They poked holes in the dark clouds.
By Friday, it was beautifully sunny, so Jackson and I went to the park. I soaked up the sunlight like a sponge. Charlie got home. He talked me through the anxiety I’ve been feeling. He snored next to me while I fell asleep.
Then things just got a little lighter. I started feeling stronger. I’m starting to sweep the darkness out like ugly soot that’s been spewn all over the inside of my head.
I don’t know why the darkness comes or goes. I don’t know why having Charlie at home levels me when I’m off balance. I don’t know why I have depression and other people don’t.
I just know I am so incredibly grateful to live with someone who doesn’t judge me for this or see it as weakness…just part of the package. I am equally grateful for friends who understand the darkness and will never let another friend slip too far. Some of them are people I didn’t even expect. They just knew I was having a hard time, and messages came, “Call. Come over. Talk. Don’t talk. Whatever you need. You’re not alone.”
We’re a strange little fraternity. We’re the seekers of light. We can’t make the darkness stop attacking, but we punch holes in it until you can battle it back. In the meantime, we hold hands.