I don’t feel good today.
I have lived with depression for many years now and today is not a good day. What I want to do is go back to bed, curl up in a ball, and read something riveting like Dark Places or watch old movies all day long.
Anything to take my mind off of how I feel and what that mind is telling me. I want to take my mind off of my mind.
The worst part of depression for me is often what goes on in my head. It comes up with some of the worst, critical, hateful words:
- “What is wrong with you? Everything is fine in your life and yet you’re depressed. What a pathetic sack of skin.”
- “Really? Yet another day where you’re not going to get anything done. Lazyass.”
- “If people really knew how you are, they wouldn’t believe a word you say or love you like they do.”
- “You suck.”
After awhile, I get sucked into these thoughts and I slip down into The Hole and I feel even worse.
Depression shrinks your world, narrowing the focus of your life down to a few, miserable feelings. No matter how vibrant and complex someone’s personality, depression takes that personality and squeezes almost all of the life out of it. I’ve only been back in the land of depression for just a few days, yet it feels like all that’s left of me is the same old batch of unchangeable feelings and a body in pain.
Cornered. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is that it takes no longer than a single day of an icky mood to have me in The Hole and digging deeper.
After over 15 years of practice in being depressed, my mind has some kind of mental desktop shortcut that takes me right into depression mode. Intellectually, I know that it’s not the same this time, that I am older and wiser, have better coping skills now, it still feels the same. The same as it did 3 years ago, 6 years ago, as it always has. And once I’m cornered in The Hole time loses meaning; getting through another day depressed is as draining a proposition as getting through another year.
Tired. I woke up at nine this morning, having gone to sleep around midnight, and woke up my partner who had to go out and help a friend with a house project at ten-thirty. Once he left, I laid down for a few minutes and woke at one-thirty this afternoon. I was in bed so long that my back had started to hurt more than usual, but even that pulled me just closer to consciousness rather than all the way there. I dragged myself to a standing position, went to the bathroom, looked at myself in the mirror. There’s been a change, even in a few days. My skin seems sallow, and there are dark circles underneath my eyes. I don’t look as alive as I did almost a week ago. Since two o’clock I have been fighting the urge to nap, fighting to function, but I’ll continue to hold off as long as I possibly can.
Last week, I was filled with energy; finishing up preparing my work space for new art work. I joined a writing collaborative to help me start my book in earnest. Today, I’m filled with doubt and unsteadiness. Why bother? My creative efforts are insignificant anyway.
Fear. I fear than in my depression I am not only bored, I am boring. Capable only of chalking up such awesome achievements as pulling the quilt up over the bed, feeding the cats or calling the electric company, I know I can’t be fun to be around. So I begin to fear that my partner, my friends – no-one will want to be around me especially if this depression goes on and on, as I fear it will. I have already started to think that I will never get back to work, that the plans I have made to get back to writing and creating art regularly will just fall by the wayside and disintegrate, as they have before.
Empty. I feel hollow; devoid of all the interests, the motivation, the energy that keeps me writing, making art, connecting, going out, trying new things. I can’t handle new and I can’t handle different. It’s a struggle enough to cope with the familiar; even that quickly separates out good familiar (comforting, safe spaces, safe people) and bad familiar (anything reminiscent of past depression, anything anxiety-provoking).
Lonely. I feel cut off, left out in our home while my partner is out. Outside my bedroom window, life goes on. The UPS truck comes and I don’t feel like answering the door. I can’t summon the energy to get down the stairs and say,”Thank you”. It leaves. Acquaintances bump into each other on the sidewalks, ask after partners, chat about how work is going. I could go down and be among them, but there’s a snag: despite my loneliness, I don’t have the energy. Down at pavement level, I would be afraid that somebody would speak to me, that I would be expected to reply. My phone has rung twice this morning. It doesn’t really matter who it is. Even if it’s someone I know and love, today I’m just not capable of engaging in those first three words, “How is it going?”
Guilty. I feel guilty staring at the dust and clutter around and no energy or will to address them, guilty that the house will still be in such a state when my partner gets in. Perversely, I feel guilty about being as depressed as I am (putting my partner through this yet again, feeling unable to complete menial household tasks, not being the person I want to be) while also feeling guilty about not being depressed enough. After all, I have been so much worse than this, so many times and, honestly, the usual pattern these days is that these down swings last a short time. Most likely I’ll swing up again, to my normal or beyond, maybe even after a good night’s sleep. And yet I keep to myself, isolative and silent. My partner asks if it’s him, has he done something to upset me? I shake my head and say, “No. It’s just a bad day. Sometimes, I just wake up this way”. Can he do anything to help, he asks. I shake my head again. “I’ll let you know if there is.” It’s all I have energy to say.
Even now, I’m concerned about how boring and dull this post is, how self-centered, how tedious. There’s nothing I’d like more that to climb out of my hole and feel like me again. But I don’t have the energy today. Maybe tomorrow will be better.