I don’t know that they understand depression so much as an acceptance that it is more than just feeling a bit sad all the time. I certainly wouldn’t wish the gaping maw of smothering emptiness on anyone. It’s not just sadness. It’s melancholy deep into your bones like coming in from the cold and feeling like you’ll never bee warm again. It’s hopelessness. It’s a lack of joy or interest in your most favourite things in the world. It’s not caring that your hair is plastered to your head with natural oils, or that you stink from not washing yourself or your clothes in weeks. It’s looking at the dishes in the sink and thinking that eating is too much effort anyway.
You’ve got a good life – happy marriage and family, your own home, a good income, cuddly pets, plenty of food – so you’re left wondering ‘why do I feel like this?’
Trust me, it is far more frustrating for the person with depression than it is to know someone with it. You might look at them and think ‘you’re *still* sad? Why?!’. But they’re thinking the same thing with the added bonus of blaming themselves and knowing they’re making everyone else sad/worried/angry/annoyed and that some people will just walk away from them because they’ve had enough (‘why can’t you just cheer up?!’) and just get over it all ready.
Cause no one with depression has ever thought of that before. We enjoy wallowing in a pit of despair.
That last paragraph was sarcasm by the way. Of course we’ve thought of it. No one with depression wants to feel that way. Well, maybe some do but I’ve never met anyone who enjoys staring unfocused at the wall for hours. I most certainly don’t.
But the general population is starting to understand this. We don’t want it. We aren’t just ‘sad’. We can’t just ‘get over it’.
Anxiety is the real bitch. It’s random. It’s pointless. It’s sudden but sometimes it creeps and you don’t know you’re feeling it until it’s too late to do anything but wait it out.
It’s like that buzz you get before performing on stage but it’s the bad sort of buzz – when you’re going out there unexpectedly and unprepared, and you’re pretty sure they aren’t going to ask you to do something you’re good at, like singing, and you know there will be unkind laughter and taunting from the audience and you‘re blindfolded so you don’t know what you’re wearing but it’s uncomfortable and noisy so you’re pretty sure it’s unflattering and cringeworthy and meant to make you look ridiculous.
The worst part though is that what you are actually doing is sitting on the sofa at home eating breakfast and watching silly cartoons with your kids on a beautiful, sunny day with nothing in your schedule but to enjoy it, so you’re left wondering what’s triggered these feelings and when you can’t think of anything from today, yesterday or tomorrow, you begin to wonder what the hell is wrong with you and then you start feeling anxious with a side order of mild panic because you can’t work out how it started or how to stop it, and maybe a bit sick because your gut is starting to respond to all of this so you can’t eat anymore but you still have to think about your family and looking after them and it all just winds tighter and tighter no matter how many breathing exercises or meditation techniques you try.
And still you spiral more tightly but now you’re getting angry with yourself on top of the anxiety and fear and helplessness because this is ridiculous! You’re an intelligent being, capable of logic and reasoning but this defies all of that and that leaves you clenching your teeth in irritation. And you’re starting to get a tension headache and your jaw is aching along with your tightened gut which is now starting to hurt because you’re taxing the muscles and you’ve put your breakfast aside but now just seeing the bowl is making you feel ill.
And the worry sets in – what are my kids seeing? How are they experiencing this? Am I hurting them in someway? What about my husband? My family? My friends? My pets? So many people you’re dragging along with you and you don’t want this for them because you like them, you love them and you want them to be happy and comfortable and you want to be a positive influence in their lives…
And on and on and on until you can’t tell up from down any more and your vision is starting to tunnel into nothing but you aren’t hyperventilating and it’s all trapped in your head, trapping you in your head and you *still* don’t know why it’s happening and that’s the thing that gets you more than anything else.
How do you stop the cycle when you can’t identify the beginning?
“Like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel
As the images unwind, like the circles that you find in
The windmills of your mind!”