World’s best description of depression

Read it here. Then come back.

I am not yet to the corn stage. Still hanging out with the fishes.

I think this blogger nails it when they talk about how difficult it is to be around cheery people who try to talk you out of depression. I know, I know, you feel helpless and you really, really want to help, and that’s very kind of you, but in some cases the best thing you can do is say, “I’m sorry things are so hard for you right now.”

Severe depression is an illness like diabetes: chronic, potentially life-threatening, and treatable. It can’t be overcome by simply talking to a friend. It takes treatment by a trained professional.

That doesn’t mean friends and family can’t help. It’s just important to keep in mind that severe depression is a long-term thing, not a three-day “I’m feeling a little blue and just need someone to talk to” sort of thing. So unless you want to exhaust yourself with continual rescue attempts, just offer support and turn to your friends for support for you. The depressed person isn’t going to make you feel better by—hey presto—changing behaviors permanently overnight.

I had a vision when I was 17 that “something very, very bad” was going to happen but that I would be all right when I was 23. Sure enough, my life began to spin out of control and when I was 18 I began having psychotic episodes. That went on until the day when I came within a hair’s breadth of going over the edge permanently and I just suddenly shut it all down. That’s a good story (good=interesting, not good=fluffy bunnies and rainbows) and I’ll have to tell it someday.

But anyway, my point is that I shut down everything. I became the walking dead. No feelings. No feelings whatsoever. It was my first experience with the all-pervasive grey that comes with severe depression. I remember my sister screaming at me, “You’re so cold, you’re like ice—” and my replying, “Paula, I’m afraid that if I start crying, I’ll never stop.”

Things went on. Again, a story for another time. Hallucinations, self-mutiliation, constant thoughts of suicide. You know. The usual. And the only thing that kept me hanging on was that vision that I’d had. So I hung in there. Hanging by a thread, but vaguely curious to see if the vision would come true.

One day when I was twenty-three I was setting on the edge of my bed. I leaned down to tie my shoes. As I got back up, whoosh, all my feelings came rushing back. “I can feel! I can feel.” I just sat there crying in wonder and gratitude. (Gratitude! A feeling!)

Who knows why it happened? After all, it’s not like I hadn’t worn shoes before. It was completely out of the blue—no warning. I wasn’t thinking anything in particular. Just putting on my shoes.

So I get what the blogger says about the corn. Sometimes all the medication and the therapy help, and sometimes it’s a mysterious juxtaposition of random forces that elicit change. I’ve been 14 years now in the wasteland and sometimes I still catch myself holding my breath when I tie my shoes. Maybe someday that will do the trick.

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One Response to World’s best description of depression

  1. Angela says:

    “Wow, those are super-dead. I still like you though.”

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