Last year on this date, I shared links to my Voices of the Year video and winning piece, saying I had already said all I needed to say on depression. And while those two pieces, written then spoken, speak volumes about depression and my experience, boy howdy, the things I didn’t know I didn’t know.
I spent most of 2014 feeling more alone than at any other time in my life. I felt overwhelmed by my grief, nearly overcome by it. I became so lost within my depression that I didn’t and couldn’t see those around me who reached out, who stuck it out, who held me up when I couldn’t even feel their presence. I spent a long, frightening time in a dark, cold place, void of compassion for self or any semblance of grace or peace.
Last year’s bout of depression was hell, quite literally.
By this time last year, I’d already begun an unstoppable slide. A series of unfortunate and unrelated events would eventually stop me in my tracks, stop a number of us in the middle of a breath or a sentence or a thought. Those closest to me rallied about, supporting not only me but my husband, my sons. And nothing was ever the same again.
Nor should it ever be.
Depression lies to us about what we deserve, what we ought to be doing. Depression sneaks onto our shoulder and points out the ways we’re harming those around us, how they’d be better off. Without us. And we listen. Over and over again, the black veil of depression keeps the truth from us. We believe it because we can’t see, can’t hear, can’t feel, can’t touch, taste, or smell anything but the lie, the lie, the lie. It becomes our truth, the only thing that makes sense. It is all; it becomes all.
And so I sit here on September 10, 2015 the same person, as in the same woman with the same bones and eyes and stubborn streak a mile wide; a new tattoo, some new clarity, a spark of hope. I’ve added what might be the beginnings of some self-forgiveness for all the things I previously refused to loosen my grip on out of fear or necessity. I’ve been holding tightly to each of these things, these faults, for so many reasons, but mainly and maybe: Who am I without these short-comings, these faults, these flaws, these things I can hold up and point to and say, “This is my fault. I am Not Good because of This Thing.”
I’m not necessarily where I need to be just yet. Sometimes I still get caught up in the “good enough,” in the quest for supposed perfection; I’m working on it, and yes, the tattoo serves as a great reminder in times of need. I also feel increasingly more gentle with myself. My anxiety still spikes, still sky rockets beyond what is normal, what should feel normal, what I want to feel as my even-keel, but even then, I’m learning how to stop the rocket launch, deploy the parachute, and float a little more gently toward the waiting ocean waters of calm, of love.
I write this, today, in a good place. I communicate my thoughts and fears, my highs and lows, with my husband on a regular basis. I went back to therapy after a summer off due to travel and a desire to stop talking about the same things, if only for one season. I take my medications daily. I exercise. I try to sleep. I drink cold water a lot to help stop the rocket launch. I journal. I write a lot of poetry, most of which never makes it to the blog. I spend time with friends again. I do all those things I’m supposed to do.
But I still have bad days. And I’m nervous about the upcoming fall and winter.
I share all of this to say, as always: You are not alone.
Just because I came through this last bout of depression doesn’t mean it’s all rainbows and butterflies up in here. And if it’s not all rainbows and butterflies up in your life, please know it’s not a lost cause. You are worthy. You are worth it. You matter. On those days when it seems and feels like, ohmyeff, you just can’t go on and you don’t matter and you’re just messing everything up and why freaking bother anymore, I want you to remember that you matter, that someone else, maybe even me, is struggling with those same thoughts and fears, and that together, we can help each other through this moment, through the next, and continue our story.
You matter. I matter. We matter to each other. I see you where you are and I meet you there. I will stand with you; I will hold you even when you cannot feel my presence. Together, we will endure.
If you don’t have a friend to text and you need to talk to someone, visit National Suicide Prevention Lifeling or call 1-800-273-TALK.