I haven’t written anything for a while. My thoughts were silent and loud all at once. Silent in hope and strength and loud in doubts and questions. Having created this blog in the place of Daisies and Darkness I did so with the goal of very much striving to move away from darkness and walk and write in hope. And that I will do because I know I am stronger now and more resilient. But that doesn’t mean I do not know what immense pain and darkness is and it also doesn’t mean I will forever live a life free from it. Realistically, major depressive disorder is a part of my life whether I want it or not. What that means is I will still lose myself at times but the difference is helping myself get back up stronger each time. Life is painful and some days my mind is dark and all I feel I should do is just give up because everything hurts. This week as I spoke with my therapist I let all my rage and sadness pour out about feelings that have been festering up inside. At one point she asked me; “When were you not bleeding?” in terms of emotional pain. My brain immediately answered, “I never stopped. Some days I just bleed a little less and others I bleed in huge amounts.” When a person in reality bleeds only a little they can survive. They can function physically and sometimes barely notice the wound. They can keep it covered and make sure it doesn’t get infected and survivea. But when a person has massive bleeding they need blood transfusions, fluids, rest and bigger interventions to stay alive. That’s how it is with depression too. In times of major bleeding you need more help and support to not let it destroy you. When the bleeding is minor, you need less. But the wound never stops bleeding.
So having said all this, I felt like I needed to talk more about the reality of depression this week and what it takes to get back up.
Depression is when…
I could never fully find all the words to explain what this cold is like. It’s like a cold that has somehow gotten underneathe your skin and is getting colder and colder inside. It isn’t an outside kind of cold. It’s a cold that has gotten into your bones and into your blood and it feels like your heart itself is beating out the cold in hard bursts through your entire body and you suddenly remember that you have a body because you can’t ignore it anymore. You feel like an ice cube. Frozen inside and out and stuck in a paralysing cold. It’s like you’ve fallen through the thin ice of a lake and you’re underwater and you can’t breathe and your system is shutting down.
This is a lot how depression feels like and the struggles one deals with. We try to cover it up and we look in the mirror as we cry and tell ourselves we’re brave then walk out the door to work because our future depends on it. We get back home and contain ourselves letting only the “normal” and “I’m perfectly OK” part of our facade show to the family. Sometimes we are OK and the constricting python that is depression around our chests sails away and we relish each minute of being able to breathe. We learn how to breathe again and stitch by stitch we get back up.
But we also have to remember that life is like this;
Most of us have figured out that we have to do what’s in front of us and keep doing it. Every time we choose the good action or response, the decent, the valuable, it builds, incrementally, to renewal, resurrection, the place of newness, freedom, justice… We live stitch by stitch. If you fixate on the big picture, the whole shebang, the overview, you miss the stitching. And maybe the stitching is crude, or it is unraveling, but if it were precise, we’d pretend that life was just fine and running like a swiss watch. This is not helpful if on the inside our understanding is that life is more often a cuckoo clock with rusty gears.
A great truth attributed to Emily Dickinson is that “hope inspires the good to reveal itself.” This is almost all I ever need to remember. Gravity and sadness yank us down, and hope gives us a nudge to help one another get back up or to sit with the fallen on the ground, in the abyss, in solidarity.
Right now, I am reminding myself to move forward one baby step at a time each day if that is all I can manage. That I need to silence the critical voice inside my head telling me I am not enough. Not working hard enough, not being strong enough, not doing enough to build a good life and that I need a big slap on my behind and to wake the hell up. Being so unkind to yourself turns you into a mean person who is cold and hard in general because, “blood clots and bones heal so suck it up princess.” Right? Wrong. So so so wrong. It makes you lose the ability to be gentle and sensitive.
Would being kind to yourself really set you back or turn you into a victim of your circumstances? Maybe loving yourself enough to take proper care of yourself will make you strong enough to face life. Telling yourself it’s OK to cry and it’s OK to feel what you feel. Then allowing yourself to heal from those hurts by taking care of yourself instead of chastising yourself and telling yourself to ignore it and thrust it back in your mind far away because you need to toughen up. Burying ugliness just makes it come forth uglier in different ways later on. Like you becoming bitter and cold. Don’t do that. Don’t be that.
You need to learn how you can help yourself. I have been reading up on a lot of self-care methods this past week and found many helpful ways. In all honesty, I haven’t practiced them yet. But here are some things you can do to help yourself;
So do it. Even if you do it slowly. There was a saying I read once that said; “You’ve criticised yourself for years. So how about trying to love yourself and see what happens.”