Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Depression Is An Asshole

It really is. It's the annoying friend of a friend that crashes on your couch for a night and ends up staying for years.  It stealthily snitches fistfuls of joy when you've turned your back and holds it's hands over your eyes when you're trying to see the sunset. It's the kill-joy guy that shoots down every good idea you have and nods with a smug "yeah, sure you are" expression when you say you're going to get up off the couch littered with junk food wrappers and go do something fun.

I realized last week that I'm depressed  I've had moments of feeling depressed over the past 7 years, but always chalked it up to the incredibly depressing, stressful situations we kept being in. Now that the dust has mostly settled, I'm realizing I'm still overwhelmed/un-enthused/disappointed-in-advance about almost everything I set out to do.

It threw me to realize that what I'm experiencing is depression because my go-to concept of depression is severe, clinical, debilitating depression.  I don't feel despair. I don't feel angst.  I don't feel suicidal.  I just feel...bored.  Like nothing is interesting.  Like nothing  is going to work out or be what I hope it will be, so why bother trying. Once I articulated it out loud to someone the other day, the lightbulb went off.

It was great, actually to realized that the problem isn't my life, it's my feelings. THAT I can do something about. When Mr. Wah-Wah starts up, I've started to think "that's just the depression talking" and sometimes the bad feelings blow away like fog.  And...sometimes, not so much.  But sometimes is better than never.

I was watching a video of a war veteran today for work (I now do policy work related to homelessness) and there was something about the flat expression on her face that made me start to tear up.  I recognized that face. That's the face of someone who has been through trauma.  At one point she said "you can't come back from war...and just be a civilian, be normal again. It's not possible." Sitting at my desk, I heard myself say out loud, "EXACTLY". My outside face doesn't look like hers, but my inside one does.

The more time that passes, the more I realize the long-term effects Simon's medical trauma had on Laura and I. I don't know what war feels like, but I know what the unrelenting threat of death feels like and I think they might be cousins.

The hair-trigger fear that used to flare when Simon got the sniffles or I smelled hospital soap on my hands has quieted down, but the unshakable feeling that I shouldn't get my hopes up because something disappointing/traumatic/upsetting/frustrating will likely happen is borne of those years and years of the steps back between the steps forward.  Yes, we moved forward and Simon is a walking, talking, playing, joking, eating miracle, but those backwards steps back have taken their toll.

In our Cardiomyopathy Listserv, we often joke about how the majority of us parents are on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds or should be. For a long time I have thought that because depression is expected in our situation it should be tolerated, but I think I'm getting clear that the Debbie Downer in my head needs to take a hike.

I have some good supports in place that I need to make better use of, including writing on this blog. If I have learned anything from the experience of parenting a medically fragile child it's that naming the hard, scary stuff out loud takes some of its power away.

Over and out.


Anonymous said...

Yes, a lying, manipulative asshole. And of course you're having difficulty bouncing back from months and years of trauma. I have anxiety and probably some PTSD from much less. <3

Jeri said...


Anonymous said...

I just want you to know (all the way from the UK) that you are not alone. Depression is a bitch. A real bitch.

First step in recovery is admitting it and showing you have no shame about it.