Tuesday, February 19, 2008


As a follow-up to last week’s anger blog, I’m moving on to depression. Not because I have it…I don’t want to trip off buzzers like I did last week. Hello blogland, if I’m ticked with you enough to call ‘end-game’, you’ll know it. I do have a real life…

So, depression… Do any of you have it? Do any of you deal with it on a regular basis? I do not suffer from depression. Oh sure, I get down from time to time—I don’t know a person who doesn’t—but actual depression. Nope. I do however deal with it on a daily basis. At least, two of my family members are bi-polar and at least one has seasonal affected depression. Add into the mix close, non-family relationships with people who also suffer from this illness and you have an unending challenge. The jagged line we walk is narrow and erratic.

Sixteen years ago, I had no concept of what depression is, what it is to live with it, and for the first few years, I didn’t even recognize it for what it was. I thought it was just being down. I used to think, “why the hell are you such a jerk?” Whoever said depression is merely unexpressed anger, missed the mark by a few feet. I see the anger all the time. And as someone who is relatively upbeat most of the time, I’d have to say it’s perplexing. I want to say “just get over it already…stop dwelling…for God’s sake if it’s that bad do something about it” but I know that’s not possible. You can’t just do something about it. You can’t just smile and say, “I’m fine, let’s go buy some daisies. Aren’t they sunny and cheerful?” Well you could, but it would be a lie. Depression isn’t something you can just get over. But as hard as it is for the person who has it, it's just as hard for those who live beside that person.

Have you ever wondered if the one you live with will be alive when you come home?

Not a pretty thought.

Have you ever feared that something you do, something you say, something you don’t say or don’t do will send them over the edge?

That’s enough to give you a disorder of some sort. It might even be enough to send you into a crying jag.

The difference is…I can have a good cry and afterward, see life as a good thing. I can see the sunshine. Someone with depression is most likely to have a good cry—if they do—and be sure that life isn’t getting any better than this. It just sucks and suck is the best you get…

But how do you deal with it? I’ll admit, I still don’t deal well. At least I recognize the cyclical swings now—in a surprising number of people. But there remains a sense of powerlessness. Ignoring the problem makes the sufferer feel…well…ignored. Like you don’t care. Not true. Addressing the problem can make it worse or garner the snarled ‘I’m fine”. Don’t want that either. Being vigilantly attentive is exhausting. Worrying is exhausting. Dealing is exhausting. See the theme? Powerless exhaustion. Which, by the way, can lead to situational depression. Like I said, a fine, jagged line.

I don’t want to downplay the horribleness of suffering from depression—particularly with a poor me because I deal with it from the outside. Even being as close to depression as I am on a daily basis, I can’t imagine the reality of dealing with such a disease everyday.

So…that leads me to this week’s question…whether you’re on the inside or the outside, how do you deal? What tips can you give other people? What warnings? What hope?


Dakota Rebel said...

I spent the better part of my teens dealing with depression. I saw several different counselors, I was on so many different medications I don't know that I could name them all. I was a severe cutter, to the point that I learned how to give myself stitches to avoid going to the hospital over and over again. This was the period of time I started writing terrible poetry. I still have it all. And it sucks. I blame the drugs.

Unfortunately there is not alot you can do for people when they are really sick. Nothing anyone ever said or did for me was good enough, nothing helped, I wanted to wallow in my illness. I loved to wrap the darkness around myself and inflict damage and pain on myself. It didn't make sense to me then and it doesn't make sense to me now. All I know is that I never did any of the things that I did to hurt others in my life. I tried to hide my pain as best I could to avoid hurting others.

I don't know exactly why I stopped being like that. I had a baby, I moved to a new town, I got new friends, and I got a man that loves me. All of these things contributed to me not wanting to hurt myself anymore, to now wanting to be in pain anymore.

I still have my days, we all do when we are no longer on our "happy pills." But those days become few and far between after a while. At least they have for me. But therein lies the problem with people who are really sick. Everyone is different. They deal with things differently, their bodies accept meds differently, and their minds change only when they are ready to.

The only advice I have to those on the outside watching us self distruct is that we are not doing it on purpose. We do not want you to suffer with us. We do appreciate that you want to help, and if we were able to, we would accept. But we just can't. Not right now, maybe not ever. And we are sorry for that.

Probably way too long and not helpful enough, but I thought I would share in case it helps someone.


Brynn Paulin said...

I think it’s not too long at all and it really will help people. That was the whole point of this post and the one last week. Community help. A little bit of catharsis. Maybe a lot of catharsis, lol.

There are really so many people out there who feel like they’re the only ones who get angry and that they deal with it all wrong – what I saw last week is that I’m so similar to others around me, it’s kinda scary. And this week…there are so many people who feel depressed and alone that knowing they’re not might help. There are just as many people who love people with depression who have no idea how to deal with it and desperately want to know how to help or what they’re doing wrong or if they’re all alone.

I'm offering a hand (or a group of hands) to grab.

Jennifer Armintrout said...

Dispatch from the inside: I make lists. I know that sounds goofy, but if I make a list of every small thing I have to do all day, I stick to it as much as I can, and I feel like I have something to be proud of, even if it's just putting on my shoes or brushing my hair.

I'm learning some warning signs though, so that I don't get to the "I feel a little bit better about myself because I brushed my teeth" phase anymore.

Molly Daniels said...

I've come to the conclusion that I'm functionally depressed. I can still go about my day and do everything (or most of it, anyway!) that needs to be done. But once I get by myself and no one's demanding my attention, that's when I 'let down' and realize I'm angry at someone or because of something. If there are still things to be done, I'll do them, but I'll be inwardly fuming about the person/situation, and will then vent to a trusted friend. And then I'm able to sort of push it all to the back of my mind until the next 'cycle' or trigger that will bring it all up again.

And part of it has to do with my depressed spouse, who still rages against the 'injustice' of the move. I don't know how to help him; he won't go talk to anyone; it has literally divided the family...the kids, who want to please him, and yet see my side of it.

There was a reason for the move; some of it is becoming apparent. But that doesn't seem to stop him from rebelling against it.

And anything I say in my defense is taken the wrong way, so I've stopped, no matter how hurt I feel toward his accusations.

You know the saying, "If Mamma's unhappy, ain't NOBODY happy"? Well in our house, it's Daddy...

Sorry for being long-winded, dear. I hope yours gets better...I was doing fine until last Friday, and am trying to snap myself out of it again:)

anny cook said...

My friend is depressed and I have no power to help her... except by being her friend. Perhaps that's all I'll ever be able to do.

lyntaylor said...

I was diagnosed with mild depression about 12 months ago. I felt constantly angry, disappointed, frustrated, dominated and downtrodden.

I was once a very independent person. A loner some may say, shy and prefer my own council. People presented too many problems for me. Give me animals any day!

I have since been weaned from my meds, and am beginning to worry that I may be slipping back into that negative space. I should be happy! I have two wonderful kids, a roof over my head - albeit not the dream house on acreage that I always wanted, a loving and trusting husband AND a fantastic opportunity to do my artwork, create covers and get paid for it!

I am sensitive to my environment. If someone is angry/upset I can always sense it, no matter how many times they tell me they're fine. This weighs me down a lot too as I fell like I'm walking on eggshells all the time and trying to pre-empt how people will be feeling around me.

I hate the idea of feeling depressed and often think that the 'grass is always greener'. Hence my love of artwork and books which enable me to escape from the drudgery of my real world.

So, yup. I have depression. I hate the way it makes me feel. I hate the fact that I'm never satisfied with what I have. I'm hoping that it's just the stresses of having a young family, being 600km's from family, fighting the never ending battle of the bulge, lack of finances, being scared of being trapped into the role of a housewife (a whole other topic ;)).

So, umm yeah .. what was the question again? LOL! I do get side-tracked with my negativity. Give me a chance and I'll spew it out LOL. I've already deleted many paragraphs and it's taken me a good hour to write this :D

Anyway, I have it. Still got it from the looks of it ;)

Kelly Kirch said...

I do. I used to take meds in winter but found I was even more suseptible to depression if I missed a couple of days than before I ever took it at all.

I have no warning. I don't see it coming on until it's scary and I'm shaking with my need to fix it. I've never been dangerous though.