If you have known me for a while (in real life), some of this story may be familiar to you. If you don’t know me that well, please just let me vent. I’m hoping it will help.
I’ve been depressed before. After my older son was born, I battled postpartum depression. It went undiagnosed for way too long. I didn’t get the help I needed and I slowly dissolved into myself. I lost the will to do much of anything. My apathy extended to every area of my life. I stopped eating. I slept all the time. I got pretty sick.
It took a long time to get better. I needed help. I talked with professionals. I took some meds. Eventually, after a lot of hard work, I got healthier. But the most drastic change came when I started running. I was amazed at what my body was capable of doing. I was shocked at how my mental outlook changed after a few miles. I set goals. I achieved those goals.
I felt strong and successful. Those feelings extended to other areas of my life. I went back to school (twice!). I had another child. I kept running. Things were good. I had stress, but I was able to adapt and handle those stressors in a healthy way. All because I was a runner. I had achieved balance. I had an excellent way to relieve stress and clear my mind and work through any challenges I was facing.
I can feel myself falling into the same hole of depression. I’m trying hard to fight it, but it’s like these long, black fingers keep pulling me down into a deep hole that becomes more and more difficult to escape.
Everything suffers. I am short-tempered with my kids and my husband. I have no motivation to clean the house or do any of the innumerable projects that I put on the once-I-graduate list. I just want to sleep. Everything that I know needs to be done seems to require vastly more energy than I have. The simple demands of my children overwhelm me. The laundry will sit in the dryer for hours until I garner the strength to fold it. I would give anything to be able to nap all day—but then the mom-guilt would overtake me.
This time the slide into depression has been different. The activity that I love was taken away from me. It has been almost 6 months since I have been able to run. In that time, I have dealt with disabling back pain every day. If I try to lift my three year old, it hurts. If I bend over the wrong way to tie my shoes, it hurts. If I lean quickly to catch a football with my son, it hurts. It hurts to unload groceries from the car. It hurts get the pasta pot out from under the cupboard. It hurts to get out of bed in the morning.
I hate what this injury has done to me, but more than that, I hate who it has made me. I don’t smile as much. I’m cranky and tired all the time. I yell at my kids more than I should and I play with them less than I should. There are so many things I wanted to do with my family this summer and instead, I am just stuck. I am not a whole lot of fun to be around. And I haven’t been able to reciprocate so many of the kindnesses I have received.
And I feel like this is so stupid! I mean, people deal with real pain every day. They can’t go to work. They can’t sleep. They can’t walk. There are people I see every day who are dealing with more difficult things that I can imagine. I don’t know what it is like to help a loved one through cancer, or to raise a special needs child, or to go through a divorce. I just hurt my back and I can’t participate in my ‘hobby.’
But this is my pain. And it is real to me. And just because I haven’t had to deal with any of those other ‘hurts’ doesn’t mean that my ‘hurt’ is any less. Or that my depression isn’t valid. Or that I should just get over it and be thankful for everything I do have. Because I am thankful for what I do have…but all my blessings don’t negate the powerfully overwhelming feelings of sadness that I still have to deal with. And no matter how many times I try to focus on the rainbows, all I see is the rain.
I don’t know why I’m saying all this, other than I feel a need to get it out and try to clear my head. I don’t need sympathy or pity or Pollyanna-well-wishes. Just understanding. Compassion. Grace.