How do you acknowledge something that you’ve always felt or gone through, but you’ve never thought it serious enough to claim it?
That’s been me & depression. I’ve always known I had some form of it, but since it’s never been the ‘clinical’ stereotypical definition of it, I just suffered in silence. Sure, I’ve shared enough about over the years, but I’ve never really owned it.
Last week, I read this article about high-functioning depression, and I let go a deep sigh of relief, and have been forming this post in my mind since reading it. Because, truth be told, more often then not, I feel at least one of the 11 signs in the article, every day, often more, all at the same time.
- Difficulty experiencing joy
Whether it’s difficulty or just muted, feeling deep levels of joy as been a challenge. Sure, I feel it, I know the sensation of joy, but I often am aware that I should feel it stronger. But then again, maybe that’s just the problem. I feel I should experience it more, as if it’s the right way to do it. Feeling it instantly & fully, when really, maybe I only can feel it as much as it’s presenting itself to me. Either way, it’s a muted sense, and I do crave it to have more of it.
- Relentless criticality — of self and others
Mostly of myself am I the most critical, which is easier to admit I suppose, but in reality the critical mind seeps over to other’s as well, and I hate it. It’s not intentional, and it’s not severe towards others, but it’s there. But in most cases, it’s my own self that I let the critics fly at. I know we are all our own worst critics, but I guess when it’s a constant self-talk, that’s where the heaviness of depression can seep in.
- Constant self-doubt
Always. whether it’s making a simple decision, such as what to order at a restaurant or what to wear. If I should go to that event or not, if I should let my son go to school because he’s got a little cough, or keep him home because it could get worse. Or if it’s for the bigger life choices, I am constantly so hard on myself, that I make my self sick to the stomach deciding on what to do. I often have to talk it out with whoever will listen, I let the idea slip out in conversation, to see what the other might have to say on the topic, or what they would do if in my situation. Because, I often just cannot make the choice. What if I don’t like what I choose? What if I’ll regret that decision, what if….it’s endless. I cannot trust my conflicted mind. But, I am working on it. I am working on just going with my initial choice, and not battle the thoughts, back and forth. It may seem silly to most, especially when it comes to the simple task of choosing what to eat on the menu, but for me, it’s a really a challenge & a battle I have been struggling with for a long, long time.
- Diminished energy.
Even before I became a momma, which now just adds to the exhaustion, I have always had very low energy. I have tried cutting out foods, I’ve tried various supplements, I’ve made sure to drink enough water, I tried to exercise in a variety of different forms, I’ve even gone for brain scans to see what the heavy head feelings are all about. And the lack of energy is still there. Some days are better than others, and my mind is clear of the fog, but it’s short lived. I often just feel as if I am floating on clouds, or more accurately, my head is full of clouds, and it’s just this constant haze. My eyes feel heavy, my body is lethargic. But, I have to push through, so I do. Especially now as a mom, there is no way I can just succumb to the heaviness and stay in bed all day, and so, I push through. But it’s hard. It’s hard to feel drained constantly. It doesn’t matter if I get a good nights sleep or not, I always wake up tired & groggy. And it’s been years.
- Irritability or excessive anger
So much irritability & unnecessary anger. The anger more so now, as a mom, with wild spirited children, and it’s something that I have a very hard time controlling, my outbursts of anger, with no lead up, it just comes, because I am so empty of patience. The irritability, is something that has been a bit more long term, but it has definitely increased more so in these days of motherhood. Everything irritates me. I step into my home, my sweet little home that we are so lucky to have, and I sigh big aggravated sighs at the constant state it’s in. I grumble when the new hand towel I just put out, is gone & no where to be found. I swear when something spills, I yell when nothing is being done, like I asked it to be done. And I go from 0-10 in no time. I am irritable & angry, more then I care to admit. But here I am, taking responsibility for it. Acknowledging it, because if I can’t take accountability for my own actions, then how can I teach my children to take responsibility of their own.
- Small things feel like huge things
This one, is a big for me. Just like making the choice as to which item of food to get (small thing), feels like a monstrous task (huge thing). Making a phone call. Going to the post office. Picking up that item that doesn’t belong there & moving it to where it should go. Staying on top of the dishes. Stopping for milk. Checking on the garden. Taking out the compost. As examples, all small things, but feel oh so huge to me. My body literally feels like a ton of bricks when I think about doing these seemingly easy & harmless tasks, but it’s a physical reaction, that my body, year after year, has fought with, so it is now just so ingrained in me. So whenever I do get the urges to accomplish those little things, I have to, right then and there, do them, or else, I will put it all off again, for as long as it’s possible.
- Feelings of guilt and worry over the past and the future
I re-play past events, and re-arrange the story. I make up future events in my mind, so clearly & detailed, that I make myself believe it’s what’s going to happen. I’m stuck in this place of not letting go of the past and yet, I look towards the future for what’s coming, which makes it really hard to live in the present. And that’s where anxiety lives, in that in between place, of trying to re-write the past & make up the future.
- Relying on your coping strategies more and more
I binge watch a lot of shows. That’s how I unwind. I get submerged in the storylines, the relationships between the characters, and I turn off my mind to the happenings of reality. I stay up too late, just so I can have that ‘me’ time, when really, I am just soaking into tv characters & not really connecting with me at all. But, I haven’t come to the point of thinking it’s a bad thing, really. I really do enjoy experiencing the stories that the writers come up with. The acting jobs of the actors. The plot twists, the romance & the bad guys. It’s an art. All of it. So while it is, I suppose, considered a ‘bad’ thing, for me, right now, I find solace in it. But it is how I cope. As well as comfort eating. Having the ice cream. The mid day cookies & tea. The drinks while making dinner. All things that help sooth me in those moments, but in the long run, make my body feeling sluggish & heavier than it needs to, when it’s already struggling to keep energized.
- Generalized sadness
In a constant state of feeling this edge of sadness. I often don’t even have any reason, I just feel low, and I will cry more then seems necessary if the opportunity arises (like stubbing my toe, or my kicks whack me or piss me off, I’ll just cry out all the sadness that is lingering within). It’s infuriating. Having this looming sadness, with no ‘good reason’ for it.
- Seeking perfection
As I wrote about in another post, I am a closeted perfectionist, because I know that if I let her fully out, I just don’t think I could handle it. But yes, I am always seeking perfectionism. Or, approval from others, which I think goes hand in hand. I just want to have beautiful things, in beautiful spaces, where everything has it’s perfect little spot. But that’s not life. Not right now. and it might not be for a long time. I know things are not perfect. Life is perfectly imperfect, but it doesn’t mean I’m not always looking for it.
- Inability to rest and slow down
I feel I’m ok at resting, even if my mind doesn’t, but the slow down is a struggle. Always feeling like there is something I should be doing, always thinking about the next task, or event, or creative endeavour, I don’t slow down, to just, be. To just play with my kids. To read. to meditate. I go in and out of finding that balance of all that. But as it is now, I’ve lost that balance, and the state of “go” is in full force.
I’ve often wondered if my ‘multi-passionate‘ self is derived from the fact that I am a highly-functioning depressed person, that once that initial joy or excitement of things, or once I hit the bout of super low energy again, or everything just becomes too overwhelming, I just stop whatever was at hand, and then move on to find that ‘high’ again. Because whenever I can find a new passion for something, I actually, even if it’s brief, can feel what joy is supposed to feel like. To feel what happiness is. To feel content.
I have done a lot of things that were, not great. I’ve hurt people. I’ve done things I am not proud of. And it’s no excuse, by any means, but I do wonder if I’ve done them, just to feel something more then I feel in my every day life. To feel it intensely and fully. To create some drama so I can escape my critics & self doubt. To be rebellious against the “nice girl” that I’ve always felt I’ve been.
I am not writing this in any pitiful way. I believe that all things in life have a meaning behind them & something to learn from. I am not wanting to make it seem like I’m a lost little puppy who doesn’t know herself or is so down, low & unhappy. because that’s not true either. I feel I am confident in knowing what I want & need in life. I’m confident that the universe provides just what we need and for good reason. I just get a little, off track, at times, and fall down that rabbit whole of self-doubt & low self-esteem. But, it’s taking the time to write about it, to acknowledge it, to sit with it, that helps climb back out.
So, why then, why am I sharing all this, you may be wondering? Well, besides this is how I roll, and just rawly and spur of them moment write, it’s also because, maybe, there are some of you out there who feel all this too. Maybe you’ve been feeling the low, but not thinking it’s worth acknowledging because you aren’t as bad as the stereotypical definition of depression. Maybe life has just been ‘meh’ but you’re just trudging through it, and not letting out your own feelings about it. If that’s you, then I hope this can reach you, and let you know that it is ok to let it out. It’s ok to talk about it. It’s ok to feel the feels, It’s ok to embrace it, and it’s ok to acknowledge that there are different types of depression, and everyone can feel it differently.
You are not alone. And I hope you can bloom from knowing that.