As a DIY blogger, I don’t often talk about my personal life. I like to keep things light and fluffy and focus on my accomplishments and the funny things my pets have done. It helps me to keep a positive mental attitude and outlook on life. But behind the scenes things aren’t always so easy. Thankfully I have an incredibly wonderful and supportive husband who is truly my other half. He’s always there to pick me up when I fall, and I do the same for him. His mother described us as “two lost souls who finally found each other” and it’s a perfect description. Together we are stronger, happier, and more resilient than we ever were alone. I don’t know what I would do without him!
Recently my blog friend Jessica shared her story of living with depression, and the struggles she has suffered because of it. What hit home for me the most was when she wrote: “Depression is hard to talk about. It is something that I have struggled with my whole life. I tend to be a perfectionist and have a hard time when I think that I am not as good of a _______ as I should be. You can fill in that blank with just about anything: teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, blogger, etc.”
That is very similar to something I wrote in 2005. An old blog post I’d published to MySpace, back before Facebook and this website. When I read it recently I found it just as applicable today as it was 10 years ago.
I have suffered from depression since puberty. It has never gone away. It is a chemical imbalance in my brain that can’t be fixed. I rely on medication to function as a normal human being and a successful member of society. Without medication I find life unbearable, and my post from 2005 does a great job of capturing that. Up until recently discussing things like depression, anxiety, and related mental illnesses like eating disorders and self-injury, were only talked about behind closed doors. I am a huge fan of the anti-shaming movement taking over the internet. I do not like any form of shaming: body shaming, fat shaming, victim shaming, mental health shaming, etc. Every day people suffer in silence and I know it has helped me feel less alone when others have shared their stories. So, now it is my turn. Here is my post, originally written [almost exactly] 10 years ago:
Date: October 21, 2005 • Friday
Title: Down in a Hole
Current mood: Numb
The downside of living with depression is that sometimes it gets the better of you. It finds a way through the meds and slams you without warning.
I feel like a large black fog swallowed me whole and I can’t find the door. I’ve learned there’s no way to fight it, I just have to wait it out which can take hours or even days. And while I’m lost in the fog, the demons which the meds usually keep away come creeping back. I want to cut myself again. I want to get so drunk I remember nothing. I want to drive my car really fast into a tree. I want to jump off a cliff into nothingness. I want to die even though I would never take my own life.
When I’m lost in the fog, it hurts to be alive. I want to lay on my bedroom floor in a catatonically numb state until it goes away. Then I won’t have to think about anything. But I can’t do that. I have to go to work and run programs and answer the phone. And after work I have to walk the dogs I’m responsible for [I retired from pet sitting in 2011]. People and animals are counting on me to be there. I cannot disappoint them.
But being awake and alert gives my brain time to think about all the things I don’t want to think about. It fills my head with noise. It tells me I’m a bad person. It tells me I’m a bad daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend. It tells me I’m a lazy employee. It tells me I deserve nothing, especially happiness. It reminds me how awful the human race can be. War, famine, children dying. Animals killed for sport or profit. Rainforests slashed. Habitats gone. Oceans empty. It makes me feel sick to be part of such a species. It makes me feel insignificant. A tiny speck. Worthless. It gets exhausting to fight off all the bad thoughts and keep focused on what’s real. I just want to sleep and make it all go away!
But once the meds kick back in, that will all fade and leave me in peace and I will once again be able to deal with life like a normal person. Hopefully that will happen soon.
I have also suffered from anxiety my whole life, but never realized what it was until recently. I had my first panic attack in July 2012. It was a horrific and terrifying experience. Thankfully hubby was with me, and was able to get me safely back home. Looking back through my life I can pinpoint all the times anxiety has crippled me. Especially freshman year of college. It was daily torment, but I had no idea what it was. I also struggled with self injury [cutting] for 20 years, from ages 16 to 36. It was my coping mechanism whenever the noise in my head got unbearably loud [thankfully I was able to replace it with healthier coping skills like art, walking, music, DIY]. There’s also been struggles with an eating disorder, on and off since 1993. So there you have it. My demons laid out for the world to see. Meh. Life is hard. Nobody is perfect. We do the best we can with the tools we have, even if the tools aren’t the best. All we can do is try. Try to do our best, try to help others, try to lead a good life. Be kind to each other and ourselves. Peace.