Depression feels like nothing and everything all at once

Photo by  Anh Nguyen  on  Unsplash

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

To cut myself and say “Ouch that hurts,” or to wake up with a headache that won’t go away feels acceptable and normal. Everyone can relate. Everyone sees the band aid on the cut and never once doubts that the wound is there. I take Tylenol for the headache and people understand and encourage me to do it.

But when I realize, too far in, too far gone, that I am fighting depression, there is no Band Aid, no Tylenol and no understanding. I can’t go to work and say, “I have a depression today,” but I can say “I have a headache” or “a cut on my arm.”

My depression is not a blackness, not a physical pain, not the color blue. When I finally understand what is happening — and it takes me a while to do more than dismiss it as a bad mood (really, what bad mood lasts for weeks?) — it feels like I am living in a filmy gray fog. It lays over everything. A blanket of almost sadness, a sheet of life is tedious and dull.

I can see the light, but it doesn’t reach me.

I can feel but everything is dulled-muted -except for the negative feelings. Those are always right below the numb surface, threatening to spill over.

I can get from morning to evening the same as I always do, as I have trained myself to do, even though it feels like I am surrounded by a thick coating of sludge.

I have not been diagnosed with depression, but I have learned to recognize it when it visits, sit with it quietly before it decides to recede until next time.

I have only been to therapy twice in my life. The first was in 2009 to try to save my marriage. That ended when the therapist told me she didn’t believe she could help us. My ex left me just a week later.

I saw a therapist twice in 2016, after I had been to court over a family issue. The two visits left a sour taste in my mouth. First, because after I explained how I felt about a family member, she told me my feelings were “wrong.” Then, she told me she recommended medication, to help me even out my ups and downs.

All I heard was my feelings were wrong, and I could medicate and be chemically controlled.

I didn’t want medication. I didn’t want to be dependent on a pill to feel okay for the rest of my life. I didn’t want anxiety and depression, either, but the alternative seemed worse to me. It wasn’t a diagnosis, just a suggestion.

But the only medication I ever take is Tylenol for headaches and cold medicine.

Facing the prospect of medication for my mental health and emotions was uncomfortable. Someone else, a professional, wanted me to take a pill to be okay, and I didn’t agree.

Feeling the hot ball that was anxiety slithering through my chest or treading water through the grey fog of depression isn’t fun, but to me, relying on a medication that could cause other issues seemed worse.

I know mental health issues run in my family. My grandmother threatened to walk into the lake at their family camp in New Hampshire. My uncle, who passed away on my daughter’s birthday last year, was a recluse and highly intelligent — which makes me wonder if he had been a kid in today’s world if he would have been diagnosed with Asperger's or autism. My brother is autistic and mentally disabled. I’m sure there are countless other examples down the family line, just as there is stroke, heart disease, alcoholism.

I am just one in a long line of people who has struggled in some way or another.

My depression has receded a bit now. I know that a combination of weather changes, stress, lack of sleep, and other things contributed to the plunge.

I know I don’t feel like the fog is quite as thick now.

I know I still don’t want medication, and I feel lucky I get to make that choice, because so many others don’t have a choice.

We watched the movie Christopher Robin this past weekend as a family. After, everyone wanted to know what character we all thought that person would me. Little Macy was Piglet, scattered Bobbi the Owl, and bold Sophie was Tigger.

Everyone voted me Eeyore. The decision was unanimous.

GIF from Disney’s Christopher Robin

GIF from Disney’s Christopher Robin