Depression is real, but not something I talk about except to those who are close to me. It's not like heart disease or cancer where, when people know you have it, they have sympathy. Depression elicits fear in people.
Fear that being around me will bring them down too.
Fear that they will say the wrong thing.
Fear because they simply don't understand it.
I've struggled with depression most of my life, but didn't realize it. Looking back, I can't believe I missed the signs, but, I didn't even know what they were. Even if I had known what to look for, I still might not have seen it because depression doesn't always follow a rulebook.
In fact, it never follows that damn rulebook. That might make it easier to deal with.
Sometimes depression has looked like not being able to get out of bed. Sometimes, it's felt like there's a cloud following me. Other times, it's just been a feeling of tired-ness that blankets everything.
Yes, there are medications for it. And yes, counseling can definitely help. But true depression doesn't always go away, even with those things.
Depression for me isn't usually completely black--I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but most of the time, the light is so far away and trying to figure out how to get there seems so very exhausting at the least, and impossible at the worst.
One of the hardest things about depression is knowing the struggles my friends have--loss of a baby, kids with major illnesses, divorce, parents with alzheimer's, etc.--and feeling like my pain is so inconsequential compared to theirs. It creates feelings of guilt and shame and makes me feel helpless because I want so badly to do or say something that will help them, and I know it will take my mind off of my own crap, but I can't even handle getting dressed that day. Which then leads to feelings of hopelessness.
Recently, I watched Beauty and the Beast and was thankful I was at the end of the row, because I found myself sobbing during a song in one of the scenes. Here are the words:
Days in the Sun
Days in the sun
When my life has barely begun
Not until my whole life is done
Will I ever leave you.
Will I tremble again
to my dear ones gorgeous refrain?
Will you now forever remain
Out of reach of my arms?
All those days in the sun
What I'd give to relive just one
Undo what done
And bring back the light.
Oh, I could sing
Of the pain these dark days bring
The spell we're under
Still it's the wonder of us
I sing of tonight.
How in the midst of all this sorrow
Can so much hope and love endure?
I was innocent and certain
Now I'm wiser but unsure.
I can't go back into my childhood
One that my father made secure
I can feel a change in me
I'm stronger now but still not free.
Days in the sun will return,
We must believe
As lovers do
That days in the sun will come shining through.
I know this song isn't about depression, but it fits. Some days, it's almost easy to believe the sun will shine through again, and that's the hope that pulls me through during the darker times. When I shared this with a friend, he asked me to break down the parts of the song that spoke to me and explain why.
I love this line:
Oh, I could sing Of the pain these dark days bring...Still it's the wonder of us I sing of tonight.
I find myself so often stuck in the pain, but I don't want to. When you sing of the good, it makes the pain more manageable--that's what the character in the movie learned.
How in the midst of all this sorrow, can so much hope and love endure?
Depression brings out the yuck. It makes me want to turn my back on God. Yep, I said it. It makes me think that He has forgotten me--that He has bigger fish to fry--more important people to care for. I tell myself to walk away and move on in life without God.
But I can't. As dark as it gets, I KNOW He's there. My head tells me I'm just a glutton for punishment, but in the depths of my soul, I feel like He is rooting for me. Even though I can't feel it. Or see it. Does that sound as crazy as I feel it does?
I'm stronger now but still not free.
Ugh. No matter how many times I think I've figured it out and won't struggle with it again, it comes back. This doesn't just apply to depression. This is most things in life. The only word picture I can think of is a butterfly that has it's wings, but is still trapped in the cocoon--there's room to flap them, but not go anywhere. It knows what to do, but can't.
Days in the sun will return, We must believe...That days in the sun will come shining through.
I MUST believe. The only other option is despair.
Like the characters in this fairy tale, I WILL remember my days in the sun (or maybe it's days with the sOn) and push through.
And I will give myself grace when pushing through looks like laying in bed listening to music or watching a mindless tv show for a while.
And I will celebrate when it looks like having a drink with a friend or sitting in the backyard engaging with my daughters.