My chest aches. I imagine it as a big ball of grayness – sadness and nothingness all at once – right in the center of my chest. I’m exhausted. I have unexplained headaches.
I’m irritable as all get out. When my son says, Mommy, mommy, mama! I fight back the urge to scream. Why do you need me so much? I need a Mommy, mommy, mama. I want someone to take care of me and cater to my every whim. I just want to be left alone.
Except when I am left alone, I’m still not happy. I get restless. I can’t focus on anything and nothing is enjoyable. So I find myself mindlessly playing stupid computer games, waiting for my son to wake up or my husband to come home to relieve me of my boredom with life.
Except when they are with me, I’m irritable as all get out. And just want to be left alone. But then I am left alone and I’m still not happy…
This is what depression feels like for me. This is what I feel like today. These are the things I usually try to hide from the world.
I get so frustrated when I realize depression has popped up again. I pride myself on being so vigilant and proactive about staying on top of how I feel. The truth is, I have a chronic disease. And sometimes, despite all the self-care and preventative measures I take, it still flares up. Which fucking sucks.
Did you know that depression is often a side effect of other chronic diseases? It’s because living with something you can’t cure or get rid of is frustrating, rage-inducing and sad. So imagine knowing that you’ll never fully get rid of these random sad times. That no matter what you do, or where you are, or who you’re with, there’s always the chance of turning into that person you hate.
Then I snap at my son for asking me to make breakfast two seconds after I told him I would. He starts crying and I realize what an asshole I am.
When I’m in a flare, the pity party starts. Why can’t I be super fit like those women at the CrossFit Games? Why can’t I write those clever, witty and insightful posts like all those mommy bloggers I follow? I start comparing myself to everyone around me and always fall short. Logic has no home in depression. I can tell myself, you can be super fit too; you’ve done it before! I can point out, you’ve written some great posts! But it doesn’t matter. I can’t see past successes in a current flare.
One of the hardest things about depression is that it’s mental. Nobody would know I was in a flare unless I told them. My husband can tell (poor man puts up with so much from me) but to the outside world, I might just seem a little quieter. Or like nothing’s wrong – I’m pretty good at putting up a good front to the general public. Even if I want help, I generally won’t ask for it. I’ll just sit there and hope someone cares enough to ask how I’m doing, and then hope that I’ll have the balls to admit the truth (my friend Julie wrote an amazing post about what depression won’t let her say several months ago and yes, I do think her writing is better than what I’ve got down here).
I think if I could just sit on my couch all day, staring into space, I would. Basically accomplish nothing except breathing. But I can’t. I have to be a mommy. I have to get us ready to fly home in 2 days. I have to get off my selfish, self-pitying ass and get stuff done. Which in the end might be my saving grace – fake it ‘til you make it. If I force myself to get up and interact with the world, maybe it will make the flare subside. Or maybe I’ll just be miserable while trying desperately not to be mean to my son.
Either way, life must go on.