For how open and frank I am, there is something I almost never discuss. My family members know, a very select of handful of friends, and several members of the greater Washington, DC medical community.
I suffer from depression.
But wait, you say, you are so funny and snarky and such! However could you be depressed?!
Yeah well, tears of a clown and such.
Right now I am in the midst of a major depressive episode. They hit me every six months or so and it is like being mowed over during the running of the bulls. They have gotten so bad that I am pretty sure my diagnosis is moving towards that of being clinically depressed. That means you are depressed all the time, not just when you hit what I call a wall. Something about this particular episode is different. I feel more despondent. I’ve barely left the house. I’m not interested in eating (which is usually my favorite contact sport). I just want to sleep, and that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing.
As you can imagine the effect on my life is staggering. The idea of work is paralyzingly exhausting to me. It is all I can do to get up with my kids and get them out the door in the morning. Showering and changing clothes regularly are pipe dreams.
No two people experience depression the same way. For me, I become completely hopeless. It’s like tomorrow doesn’t exist. I can’t adequately describe the exhaustion- it is bone crushing and comes out of nowhere. Take the most exhausted you have ever been, multiply it by 20, add in a gut-wrenching sadness that you can’t pin on anything in particular and you might have an idea of where I am now.
I have been on medication for five years now, ever since I had to pull my car over on my way to work because I couldn’t see through the hysterical tears I was crying. The medication controls things pretty well, with the exception of these crevasses every few months. I’ve been approaching and treating my depression as though it is these occasional episodes, but I’m realizing that it is more than that. I live with it daily, beating it back into the darkness from which it came, but every so often it wins.
I told my husband today that I’d rather have cancer. People understand cancer. You can cut it out, you can radiate it or kill it with chemicals. Even if you succumb to cancer people understand. I don’t feel understood. How can I when I don’t get it myself? I have also said that I feel like there is something in my brain. I wouldn’t be surprised if you cracked it open and there was a little alien in there, like in Men in Black (“Orion’s belt!”).
I don’t want to be this person. Depression keeps me from being the best version of myself. It robs me of patience. My brain works slower and words don’t come as easily. I don’t enjoy things that I normally would. And I get so tired so easily. It sucks when you have two kids under 4 who just want to run and play and climb all over you.
I’m working with a psychiatrist to try and figure this out. I am hopeful that some medication changes and perhaps talk therapy will give me the tools to cope better. I’ve also decided to be more open about my struggle because I know so many people who are fighting the same battle, and perhaps this will give comfort to them. Plus, I’m done being ashamed and embarrassed of this- I think it feeds the little alien and ultimately makes things worse.
Thanks for reading, for listening. I appreciate it more than you can know.