I struggled with depression for a little over two years. Classic signs. Too much sleep (there was never such a thing). Too much to drink (I could never get numb enough). Withdrawn, I was a shell of myself and could go days without answering a call or text from anyone. While not actively suicidal, there were days I remember being perfectly fine if I never woke up. It carried on for about a year or so until one day I could not get out of bed. I didn’t for a week. I just cried. It was like an endless pool of sadness and I was the fountain churning more salty tears into the basin.
Two years after I was “well” again I had a particularly hard week of work and school. It was pouring rain and I didn’t have a car so I had to walk. My usual route was flooded so I had to take the long way home. As I walked my ballet flats filled with water and kept slipping off so I carried them walking barefoot on the concrete in the pouring rain, crying the whole time. I remember having the thought “The only reason I can’t die right now is because my room isn’t clean and I don’t want die at this weight.” One bad week and I’d slipped right back. It’s when I learned just how faithful, and patient depression was.
Currently, in the midst of a year which has been so financially taxing as well as relationally difficult, I’ve found myself slipping. My best friend reminded me that it’s a good thing I caught myself. That I could recognize the signs. That I noticed all I wanted was sleep and it was never enough. That I could see how often I wanted to reach for a drink (though, this time I say quite proudly I did not). That I could notice how alone I felt despite often literally being surrounded by people. Not just people, but people who love and care about me.
When I read my post I wrote last night it made me cry. This time for a different reason, not because I was in the midst of the loneliness, but because I wrote from that place. I was that honest and that I genuinely felt that lonely, that sad, that cold. I was IN that pain and reading it back today it was scary for me because I don’t want to be there. And even though today I feel the same. Still sad. Still lonely, I do not feel as cold.
I told my Person what’s been going on. I told Tre. I told Em who missed me crying by mere seconds when she called. Part of me wondered if she knew. I am not willing to slip so easily.
Sometimes the bravery you need to overcome depression, or a relapse, is simply found in the breath before screaming. The pause in between tears. And the moment right before you stop lying and answer the question for real, “No, I’m not really okay.” What I’ve learned is that it needs the silence. It grows there in silence and darkness. Which is difficult, because sometimes we need breaks from noise and we close our eyes to clear our heads.
I think it will be a lifelong struggle. Kind of like an addict. Even if you’ve been clean for years, you can recognize the itch. I can recognize the signs. And maybe Jennie is right. Maybe that’s enough to save me. Maybe just the acknowledgment is enough to let depression know I won’t go without a fight.