Last night I felt my happy mood from earlier in the day shift and change. It was like a light going off. I felt the darkness settle in and suddenly I felt sad. It's one way I know that I'm going to face a bout of depression. I recognize the symptoms and signs and prepare for the oncoming onslaught of feelings.
This summer I shared that I suffer from depression. You can read more about it HERE. While I have had it for many years, I had not officially shared it in a way that even most of my friends knew I suffered from it. It wasn't that I'm embarrassed by it. It's more that I don't want people to treat me differently because of it.
It's so interesting that by sharing sharing my experience with depression I would be forced to face it head on in a way that I have never done before. For a good solid month after sharing my feelings with the world, I suffered through a cycle of grief. Something about acknowledging that I will likely always have depression and anxiety in some form really hurt. It's not the life I had planned for myself. It's something that affects my life nearly every day. It's not fun. It's not pleasant. And knowing that it will likely always be there in the shadows is in and of itself: depressing!
As I thought through how often depression has affected moments in my life, I began to realize that there is rarely a time when depression doesn't affect how I choose to live, what I choose to do on a daily basis, what I find I can cope with. It's definitely changed who I am. And while it certainly doesn't define me, it certainly is a part of me. I admit I cried about it quite a bit.
I am a strong-willed person. I want full control of my life. I want to be happy. I like being around happy people. I don't like excuses for not living. But sometimes I'm not happy. And sometimes I can't bring myself to do something that if I were feeling better I could probably accomplish. Realizing that depression has seeped into every aspect of my life and in some ways shrunk of my circle of living bothered me.
But isn't admitting you have a problem the first step? Pretending that I don't have it certainly wasn't making it go away. Aknowleding that it's there, and realizing that sometimes it's going to affect what I do is important.
Thankfully I have many, many, many days without full-blown depression. Of course I constantly weigh and balance what I can do based upon my depression and anxiety, but I would say most of the time I am happy.
But one of the things I hate about depression is how it affects my momentum in life. Having depression is much like driving down a highway with hidden speed bumps.
Imagine going full speed down a highway. Suddenly out of seemingly nowhere you hit a speed bump. Your car shivers to a stop as it tries to adjust to the bump in the road. Your car sputters and stalls depending upon the size of the speed bump. You might even come to a complete stop with no forward movement at all. You work and you work to get the car started again. Sometimes it hiccups, coughs, and starts up again. And sometimes it sits idle for days. When your car finally begins moving again, you realize that others heading to the same destination are quite far ahead of you, and you feel as you may never catch up.
Depression is those speed bumps in life. I can be in the middle of an incredibly productive and creative week. I'm on top of the laundry, meeting the kids' needs, crafting for work and depression will rear its ugly head. And like hitting a speed bump in the middle of the freeway, I may idle, come to a complete stop, or simply have a small hiccup in my week. It's the starting and stopping that is utterly frustrating.
I once had an misinformed person tell me that I was lazy. I believed it for a long time. I thought perhaps there was something fundamentally wrong with me as a person and that those times of idling or stopping were because I was somehow "bad." Not true. That isn't the real me. The real me is involved, in constant motion, and goal oriented. It's only when I'm suffering from depression that I might appear to the outside world to be stuck.
Learning to cope with these speed bumps has been a challenge. Sometimes I can pick right back up where I left off. I have learned to do menial tasks when it hits so that at least I am accomplishing something. I may save the creative or more involved tasks until I am coming out of my stall or have left it completely behind.
I joked with my husband a few months ago that if I didn't have the speed bumps I would be an incredibly successful and productive person. It was a funny comment at the time, but it also wasn't. Learning to cope with things that get in the way is something we all learn. Whether it's a loss, a change in direction, or depression, we all have to figure out how to work around and through tough things.
I am determined to keep my "car" in working order so that when a speed bump does occur, I can more easily restart my engine. And when I do stall, I give myself permission to rest and recover knowing that it is highly likely that within a short time I will be back on my journey again.
So while speed bumps are going to appear, I am working towards making sure they affect me less than when I first realized I had depression. Now I'm much better at coping with what's coping and what I'm currently dealing with. And frankly that's a good place to be.