Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Depression is a fat liar. Also, it has bad hair.

I got into a fight with my husband the other day. One of those stupid fights everyone gets into sometimes, where it starts out about whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher and the next thing you know, you're maligning one another's cultural upbringing. It was stupid and unwarranted and is sure to be repeated at least once in our life, because that's the way it is when you share your life with someone. You piss each other off sometimes.

But while we were in the midst of all this, he stormed off, and I sobbed, suddenly confronted with a terrible realization: There is no one in this world who loves me unconditionally. There is no one who would love me no matter what. I sat there for a while, thinking through the people in my life and realizing, as I considered them one by one, that one of the reasons I don't stand up for myself is because if I don't keep them happy, they'll leave. Sure, my kids love me pretty much unconditionally, but that doesn't count. They will (as they are supposed to) grow up and move on to a more complicated relationship with me, one more like the (I now realized conditional) relationships I have with my parents.

It was the kind of moment that just shatters you, when you realize that you are, fundamentally, alone. I couldn't believe that this was true, at the same time that I couldn't believe I'd taken so long to see it. And now I was faced with the choice of whether to keep everyone in my life happy and keep them around, or whether I ought to try to make the tough choices, taking the chance that they--my husband, my sister, my mom--would decide they'd just had enough and leave.

That was my evening.

Then a few hours later, when things had calmed down and we'd done all the "I'm sorry I was such an ass" and the "I'm sorry I was such a jerk" and everyone loved one another again, I couldn't help but poke at that wound, like sticking my tongue in the hole left by a lost tooth. You know it's going to hurt like the devil, but you can't help exploring in there. And you know what? There was no hole. That realization, so obvious at the time, was completely gone. Yes, we piss each other off. Yes, we have hard times, all of us, in all our relationships. And sure, there are some relationships that I know wouldn't make it through a test. But that's not true of my most important relationships. When we say we love one another unconditionally, we mean it. And instead of feeling sorry for myself, I ought to be grateful that I have so many people who do love me.

That's one of the lousy things about having depression. It makes me feel like a loser sometimes, like someone who just couldn't hack life and went running to get the diagnosis du jour and some pills. When that happens, I sometimes quit taking those pills, because, hey, I'm better than that. But inevitably, something happens that reminds me why I have that diagnosis. Because when depression gets ahold of me, I lose all perspective. I'm just so glad that I got it back. And now, instead of feeling like melting into a puddle of self-pity, I feel like calling Depression on the phone and telling it that no one loves it, and hey, how does that feel? And also, it has a big butt. And it's not as smart as it thinks it is.

There will be more bad times, because there always are, whether or not we have depression to deal with. But I'm grateful, today, for the ability to see that Depression tells you lies, and you don't have to believe them.

6 comments:

Mommy on the Spot said...

This was a very powerful post. It got me thinking about my own life, especially when you regained your perspective. Thank you very much for posting this.

Kendra said...

Thanks so much. Obviously I've been busy and haven't been posting lately. But this just turned into one of those things you need to get out.

Bex said...

It is absolutely a liar. I have a "staff" of a few people, including my sisters, who are on call to speak truth to me when depression comes and starts telling me things. It's amazing how real, how convincing are the things you feel when you're depressed (or overtaken by depression's twin, anxiety). I try to explain to people that I can logically, rationally see that what when I am like that, my feelings will attach themselves to any random, destructive thought, but when they do I feel powerless not to believe it. But it's hard for people who haven't been through it to understand.

So I understand. Sorry that you're going through it now :(

Kami said...

Oy. Been there. Still on the fence about whether or not to go back on medication. Depression turns me into another person. A pathetic, unmotivated, yelling person. Who I hate. And who scares my children. But, I'm way better than I was this time last year. So there's that. You are strong and loved and incredibly articulate. Don't let it get you.

Kendra said...

That's great that you have people you can turn to when you need some perspective, Bex. It's hard to know when you're being ridiculous and when the hard truths of life are just being revealed to you. It's important to have people you can trust to help you tell the difference.

I'm really glad you're doing better, Kami. I know that as soon as I accepted that I had depression, it made a difference to me. Sure, the medication does its job, but it also helps to know that the anxiety attacks and other confusing experiences aren't me going crazy. I hope you keep doing what you need to do to feel good, whether or not that means medication. I'm on the fence about it myself sometimes, but for now it's clearly for the best.

Jasmine said...

So honest! So brave!