Thoughtful Thursday – Having depression doesn’t mean I’m just sad

I shouted out briefly on Discord last week about having depression and how I’m currently trying to push my way through another bout of it , and thought I’d do a post about it too. I actually started writing this on Saturday January 11th, with the intention of posting it on a few days ago (hence the “Thoughtful Thursday” part of my title), but it’s taken me until now to finish and edit it. Hmmm, maybe I should’ve done a post about my Fibro Fog instead. 😜 But it’s done now, and I’m choosing to look at it as I’m posting a few days early for this Thursday! 😊

And yeah, I know saying that having depression doesn’t mean I’m just sad seems a bit counterintuitive to say, given the dictionary definition of depression is literally, “a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason.”

It’s funny – while I have no problem announcing to the cyber world that my breasts had lumps & leaks, or that I had unexplained vaginal bleeding (long after my hysterectomy), I still hesitate to mention my battles with the Black Dog. Not for the stigma attached (because I think I’ve established I’m not worried about that 😂), but because of how uncomfortable I feel people are when I bring it up, like they feel obligated to somehow make me feel better. And I say that because I know I feel the same way – in fact, I’m probably just projecting…lol. Which is why any time I talk about being depressed, part of me wants to reassure everyone I’m actually okay and not to worry, but part of me doesn’t want to minimize this and make others struggling feel alone.

Having depression sometimes feels like a physical, not emotional, thing

At the moment I have a number of reasons to be depressed and none of them involve money, relationships, or my general state of mind. They’re all rooted in my physical issues – depression is a symptom of the laundry list of things I have, including Fibromyalgia, Essential Tremor, and Osteoarthritis (my big three).

Although actually the first time I was diagnosed with the big D was back when our youngest was a baby, back in 2001. While I tried to explain away my demeanor back then as simply, “I’m a mom of three littles, of course I’m exhausted all the time,” there came a day that I sat in the middle of the kids playroom, crying continuously while not being able to find the energy to stand up and walk over into the kitchen to talk to hubby as he washed the dishes I hadn’t been able to do. After a few hours of my protesting I would eventually be okay, hubby got on the phone with my primary care doc, and we started to work on finding answers.

The first psychiatrist I saw determined not only did I have postpartum depression with generalized anxiety disorder, but also long term Dysthymia, I still remember sitting across the desk from her as she asked me (and I’m paraphrasing of course), “so in college you majored in Psychology, but you didn’t recognize that you’ve been clinically depressed since you were 13?”

But it’s not as simple as feeling sad

Even when I’m not depressed, I cry. Like, a lot. I’m the designated weeper in our house – if we’re all gathered together watching television and an even slightly schmaltzy commercial comes on, everyone turns to look at me, invariably finding me snuffling away. Those tears definitely come from my heart and emotions.

However when I cry when depression sets in, it doesn’t feel like it comes from feelings, it’s more like another physical symptom of one of my ailments. Like with my tremor, shaking and sobbing is pretty much how my ET manifests, even when my emotions are like, “what the hell are you doing, eyes? We didn’t give you the signal to open the flood gates!”

For example, at the moment we don’t have a car (it failed inspection just before Christmas). My intellectual side knows we’ve been worse off before – there was a time years ago when our kids were little that we were car-less for months, but we made it through. Now we’re very lucky that our eldest has a car we can use, not to mention our landlady always offers to let us use hers in a pinch. So when I think about our vehicle situation I don’t feel depressed about it, especially since we’re in the process of getting a potentially better set of wheels. But when we got the news, I had a hard time mustering the energy to get up off the couch, and cried when I tried to talk about it, since I’d been having a number of bad tremor episodes around the same time. It’s hard not to put the situation and the emotion together, even when my brain tells me I’m not actually sad about it.

Focusing on the healing, not the feeling

I’ve found sometimes that pushing through like I’m just dealing with a bad cold that will get better soon helps me when I’m like this. Even little things online like doing admin things in the Smart Witch community, RT’ing a bazillion tweets, and upvoting/curating/@tipu‘ing some Steem posts, makes me feel like I accomplished something each day, even if it’s just garnering good will. It helps to keep me in a positive frame of mind and not feeling completely useless after a month day of not showering, getting out of pajamas, or doing anything resembling something productive.
 
Since I know there’s a genetic component to all this, I have no doubt our kids will have their issues with the Black Dog barking at their door. I’m just hoping someday when someone says, “yeah, I’ve been wrestling with my depression the past couple of weeks,” people (myself included) will respond as if that someone said, “yeah, I sprained my ankle a couple of weeks ago” and reply with things like, “dang, that sucks! Hope you feel better soon!” In the meantime, this is my very long winded way of saying, I’m struggling but I’m okay.

One last thing – I thought this would be a good time to revise the graphic I created for a post in January 2016. Since the author of this spinoff poem is unknown, I took the liberty of tweaking it a bit from the one I originally found. I’m finding it an awesomely humorous way to remind myself that I’ve got this, and soon enough I’ll be brushing the sand off my butt and get back to putting one foot in front of the other.

Buttprints in the sand depression doesn't mean I'm sad

Buttprints in the Sand

One night I had a wondrous dream,
a set of prints on the sand was seen.
The footprints of the Goddess they were
yet mine were not along the shore.

And then a curious print appeared,
so I asked the Goddess, “What have we here?
This print is large and round and neat
but it’s much too big to be my feet.”

“My child,” she sighed and shook her head.
“For miles I carried you through your dread,
then challenged you to find your strength,
rise on your own, and walk great lengths.

You would not listen, you would not grow,
you would not go against the flow.
So I grew tired. I got fed up.
And there I dropped you on your butt.

Because in life there comes a time,
when one must fight and one must climb.
When one must rise and take a stand,
or leave their buttprints in the sand.”

~ Author Unknown

 
 


Having depression

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Having depression

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6 comments

  1. Thank you for making this very important distinction between being sad and having depression. People often confuse very appropriate sadness at circumstances with a bout of depression. Brava for your courage from cracking open this closet door.

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