I have written and reworked this post to within an inch of its life. I can’t seem to put into words my struggles without sounding like that one person who can’t stop complaining about her lot in life. That is SO not how I roll but it seems to be who I am right now. So, because I cannot escape her, I’m going to attempt to get her out of my system. I need a good emotional purge. I need to get my frustrations and disappointments out of my head and away from my hurting psyche. Call it complaining, call it a rant, call it whatever you want. I’ll call it an exorcism of thought and you may consider yourself thoroughly warned.
In recent years, as a society, we have become more emotionally aware than our predecessors. We have come a long way in our understanding of depression. Yet, it is still viewed as a taboo and out-of-bounds subject. Despite our best efforts, the myth still exists that depression stems from a weakness of the mind, something that only requires a strong constitution to overcome. Unfortunately a mind over matter attitude doesn’t always work when dealing with the kind of depression that many people are battling. I’ve also discovered that, for so many who live with chronic illness, depression walks hand in hand with battling that illness day in and day out. And it is no wonder considering what chronic illness does to your life.
So at the risk of complaining even more than I usually do, I’m going to write about this as openly as I can. I realize there are so many who are suffering much, much more than I in both body and spirit. I hope that I can be sensitive to that as well. I realize that I have a lot to be thankful for. That doesn’t seem to be the problem. I think what may be happening is that I’ve lost the ability to enjoy the things that I’m grateful for. Hmmm, I’m not sure that even makes sense to me. Let me see if I can untangle my thoughts.
It is time for some total and painful honesty. I think it is actually long overdue. I am so depressed I can’t see straight. I’m not talking about the “gosh I stubbed my toe and now I’m having a bad day” kind of depressed. I’m talking full on “don’t even want to get out of bed” kind of depressed that knocks you on your butt and kicks you while you lay there sobbing. This is an all-consuming, spirit crushing, emotional quagmire of deep, dark depression.
Ugh! I hate admitting that, especially on this forum. It feels like I’m admitting to a shameful secret that speaks to my inability to pull it together. I feel weak and defeated like I’m not measuring up to my own expectations of who I’d like to be. I’m loath to admit just how bad it has gotten. I have people telling me how inspirational I am, how strong I am, how much they admire my positive attitude in the face of suffering; so to admit that, in truth, I’m withering on the vine seems like an act of monumental failure on my part. While I appreciate the compliments of friends and family who praise me for my strength, resiliency, and a smile that doesn’t quit, I feel like a fraud. Up until recently I might have agreed with them but it pains me to admit that I’m done. I don’t want to be resilient or strong anymore. To tell you the truth I feel as if I’ve let everyone down including myself.
See what I mean about myths of depression? I’m even applying that stereotype to myself. Shame on me! But I’m exhausted in a way which is beyond description. Regardless of the sadness I’m actually too tired to smile anymore.
I DON’T FEEL GOOD…
I DON’T EVER FEEL GOOD…
And, barring some miracle of science, I’ve been told that this is the best I can expect of life for now. In fact, it will probably only get worse as time progresses. What exactly am I supposed to do with that?
A girl can only take so much, right?
I’m tired of always trying to be positive. I’m sick of smiling through the pain. I’m done being the pillar of strength that others have come to expect. I think I may have finally hit the bottom of my reserves. No, it feels worse than that. I’ve hit the bottom of the barrel and I feel like I’ve bloodied my poor, useless fingers trying to scrape through to the ground below. Like I said, I’m complaining, but I did promise honesty and no matter how much I wish it weren’t so, it is.
I’ve felt it coming on for some time now. A person can only take so much constant physical pain and the subsequent disappointment that accompanies the necessary life alterations that result from that pain before it takes its emotional toll. The insidious part is that I feel guilty about my depression like it is some flaw in my personality that needs to be corrected. Cognitively I know this isn’t necessarily the case but I also find that it is very difficult for my head to tell my heart how to feel. I know that is exactly what I need to do but having the energy to meet my own needs seems to be a bit of a challenge.
I think that might be the issue. This feels like more than a dark mood that I can conquer using mind over matter. It feels like I’m hollowed out and drowning on the inside. I feel like all I do is complain about how I feel and how much I’m struggling. I have no life outside of the pain. I spend most of my days sitting on my couch planted firmly in front of the TV alternating between tears and trying to numb myself with mindless entertainment. I probably need to be on medication but I’ve gone down that road in the past and it did not go well. And by “not well” I mean disastrous. Besides, I think whatever is going on chemically has ultimately come from my endeavors to accept and deal with my circumstances.
I feel lost and hopeless. I don’t feel like myself. I can’t be myself with these limitations. For so long I’ve defined myself by my ability to run, my strength of body no matter how much it hurts, my strength of mind, and my ability to persevere through some really hard times but I’ve finally caught up with myself. I feel defeated on so many levels. Like my body does not allow me the freedom to be who I truly want to be in life. I am a highly motivated person, driven and successful and yet my body thwarts my every move. It has always been this way and I’ve forced my way through or around the pain anyway. Sadly I think I may finally be facing a mountain I can’t climb. Even worse is that I can no longer find the motivation I need to climb said mountain.
I’m finding this terribly difficult to explain properly.
I feel stuck in a never-ending spiral down the rabbit hole. From the moment I break into consciousness my day is an uphill battle and it all goes downhill from there. It is extremely difficult to motivate yourself to get out of bed in the morning when the first thought you have upon waking is “Oooouuuucccchhhh!” Yeah, not the best way to start the day.
Even on a rare “good day” by the time I get out of bed I’ve used up any energy I had just to roll over and force my feet to hit the floor. How does one recover from that? How do you muster the oomph you need for the day when it was never there to begin with? Depression is a tricky business that way. You think OK I really need to get myself up and out the door today but by the time you get dressed all of the energy you were prepared to dedicate to that venture has been spent brushing your teeth.
What frustrates me is that I feel like I’ve been here before. After my hysterectomy I was plagued with a deep, dark depression that had been building since my teenage years. I worked hard to pull myself out of that pit and yet here I am again. I feel like I’ve learned nothing, that I’m right back to square one. I realize that probably isn’t the case and that, if I could step back and look at it objectively, I would find that those experiences are helping me now. The problem? It is REALLY difficult to see things objectively through the dark sunglasses of a depressed state of mind.
I find myself wondering how in the world I’m supposed to pull myself out of this latest emotional death trap when just the thought of feeling the pain as my feet hit the floor makes me want to curl up in the fetal position and disappear. I know, I know. Many of you are sitting here reading this and thinking, “Holy cow what a defeatist attitude.” Yes, it is. The problem is that, when you feel lost in anguish, it is difficult to find your way to a positive attitude. I’m a big fan of positive thinking but there are times when you can exercise all of the positive thinking you can muster, it just doesn’t make a difference. Your mind becomes a hostile environment in which you want nothing to do but escape.
It is exhausting dealing with chronic pain and just as tiring to work through the emotions that come with a life of illness. And now you see we’re right back to the beginning. I realize what needs to be done but having the oomph to do it when all of my oomph is simply non-existence leaves me baffled as to how to proceed. And I HATE it! I hate how contrary it is to my nature. Sure, sure I need to go easy on myself, allow myself time to adjust and reconfigure my life around pain but it feels so contrary to my personality. The doctor says rest and all I hear is “lazy” reverberating through my head, an obnoxious reminder of my limitations.
I’ve got to figure out how to reconcile who I am, who I want to be, with what I am capable of doing. Finding ways to do this is proving to be more challenging than I could have ever imagined. If you would have said to me a few years ago that my health would continue to decline I would have smiled at you and said, “Ha, I can take it!” Oh the blind courage of the uninformed. I’ll tell you what I have learned is that I need to withhold any and all judgment. I thought I was a strong person, capable of handling whatever life threw at me. And maybe I still am but I’ll admit that my courage is waning, my smile is a little lopsided and, if I seem like I’m not quite myself, it’s because I’m not.
What I am grateful for are friends and family who see this drowning ship and still want to jump aboard to help. Thank you for that. Thank you for not trying to tell me it will all be ok; it is nice to know that you understand and validate my sorrow. Thank you for recognizing that it isn’t ok. Thank you for understanding when I don’t return your calls right away. (I’m thanking you in advance for that so that you’ll know it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with my inability to be social right now.) Thank you for not telling me that I just need a little more faith. I have faith otherwise I think I’d be catatonic. But it is nice to know that you have faith in me. That is what I need most is your faith in my ability to recover… eventually. Most of all, I’m thankful for God who I know has faith in me or he wouldn’t have placed these challenges in my path. I’m going to hold onto his faith in me knowing that he loves me even when I can’t seem to give him anything in return.
Well? I’m not sure if that helped or not. Maybe it helped one of you, my readers, knowing that you’re not alone. I’m afraid this can’t be fixed in one blog post. Maybe I’ll just swallow my pride and blog my way through this next chapter taking you with me on a journey through some emotional healing. On the other hand I’m feeling a bit non-committal these days so we’ll see…
Thanks for reading, hope you survived!