A snapshot of me in my latest deep depressive episode. Would you have even guessed?
Probably not. So let’s talk about it. It’s not always hiding away, not showering, engaging in drugs / food / alcohol for days on end. Though, it might be. It’s different for all of us.
Many people know I have long lived with depression and anxiety. At the same time, so many people don’t. I can remember being a young kid and not understanding my feelings because it wasn’t something talked about. I remember the same feelings as an adult and still not understanding. I lived for years thinking something was wrong with me. Feeling like I was broken. No ‘reason’ for feeling the way I did so I spent my time acting like everything was cool.
So even now, when I’m super open about my mental health, people still seem surprised. I know, I smile. A lot. Like, A LOTTTTT. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m in a good place. I mean, I have a big ass grin on my face while doing burpees at the gym for fucks sake. I smile when I’m happy, sad, excited, overwhelmed. I smile when I’m being real and when I’m faking it. I think smiling is my fall back safe place… just like my love for uncomfortable, dark humor. It cloaks me.
My husband has pointed out that my deep depression episodes are cyclical. Something I had never acknowledged on my own. This makes me feel a bit more in control of an uncontrollable situation. Like if I pay attention, maybe one day I can catch it earlier and not spiral so deep.
I didn’t catch this last one. I’m emerging out of a roughly two month depression fog. I say roughly because it silently comes on and retreats slowly over time- to a point where it all just feels…. like something. Not sure how to describe it other than… it’s something.
It’s scary because one day I realize that I’m not ok. And that I haven’t been ok for sometime. And suddenly I recognize a part of myself that I’m scared of.
I recently admitted to my husband that years ago, I wanted to take a bath while pregnant with our second son. I wanted to slip under the bubbles but never come back up. I don’t know why I felt this. I hadn’t had a noticeable or conscious trigger. I hadn’t even been diagnosed with cancer yet. I just was not ok. And thankfully I had a midwife who listened and got me started on meds… again.
Here’s the thing though, I love baths. They are my sanctuary. My self care, if you will. They used to be my safe place. I still take baths on the regular but not one goes by where I don’t remember that moment. It’s a constant reminder of how deep I was at that point…And how far I’ve come… But also that I need to continue my work. Because putting in the work during the ‘good times’ is just as important as being patient with myself during the not so great ones.
Now, I am one of those people who are proud to say that I am on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. They hold no shame over me and I am prepared to live my life on them for the long haul. Because I want to be around for the long haul. Even on meds, though, I slip. Sometimes there’s a big trigger like a birthday, death anniversary, holiday for one of my parents that I don’t even realize I’m anticipating. Sometimes I enter a credit card for some harmless online shopping and I face my mortality (thanks cancer 🖕) wondering if I’ll be around to get a new card when this one expires.
I am again on the hunt for a therapist. A non biased source to listen and offer coping skills. My last therapist told me I seemed fine and she didn’t know why I even needed to see her. I then asked her for help for when the ‘not fine times’ showed up. That didn’t happen…. and I never went back. She just didn’t get it.
When some people are depressed, it’s not that we necessarily have nothing to live for. I have so much to live for. It’s just that sometimes it’s all so hard. And for me, it’s not a constant cloud over my head but a shitty and unreliable forecast that may or may not show up at any time.
All this said- I hope that someone feels heard, seen, understood, not alone when I share my story. I say this to my cancer peeps all the time but want to express to all you. Please, reach out to me if you feel like no one else will get it. I cannot fix it but I can listen. We can’t do life alone, no matter how loudly depression tells us we can.
Fun fact: I wrote this post while in the bath. Today, it served as my inspiring and happy place.