I recently read two blog posts about depression, from Wil Wheaton and HLFHM. Both are brave and honest accounts of what it is like to live with depression, and both are written openly and without shame, in the hope to help others understand and feel that depression is nothing to be ashamed of. These posts made me want to make an attempt at throwing my dilapidated hat into the downward spiral. Hopefully, the more of us who talk and write openly about living with mental illness, the more it will come out from underneath its blanket of shame.
So, in following the footsteps of Wil Wheaton: I am Susan Richardson. I have depression and anxiety and I am not ashamed.
To anyone who reads my blog, it probably isn’t surprising that I suffer from depression, but what may seem surprising, is that I find depression to be a heavier burden and presence in my life than blindness. Depression joined the party long before RP; or at least I didn’t know that RP was already there and hiding in the corner, creeping along the edges in preparation to dismantle my life. Depression began its demolition of my life when I was quite young and it didn’t allow me to ignore its presence.
I have tried to express how it feels to be pulled into the deceptive clutches of depression. I have tried through poetry, most recently with a poem published this year in Literary Juice. I have tried to express it in prose and in journals and in countless sessions with therapists. I have tried to understand the why. The thing is, sometimes there is a why, but more often, there isn’t.
I am choosing to write about depression now, not only because of being inspired by other writers, but because I am in the grip of depression, as I write this. This won’t be an eloquent post. It isn’t going to be poetic or well written. My fingers are so heavy and every strike of the key leaves huge gashes in what little energy I have. But, I wanted to write about depression, not in memory, but while I am inside of it.
Everything here looks dire and cloudy, but I don’t want to get out. Getting out takes too much energy. When people try to get me out, I get angry. I feel as if they can’t possibly understand. And, I feel guilty, for not being nice when people try to help, for not being able to rise above this invisible thing that ties my limbs, for still sinking so low when I am 49 years old. Shouldn’t I have a handle on this by now? Shouldn’t I be normal? Stronger? Better? But, I can’t move and my mind is stuck in a loop of lies that I have believed my whole life. Why won’t the screen clear? Why do I hate myself so much. I have no right to be sad. I have an amazing husband, a good family. I am loved, but I don’t love me. Who cares? Who the fuck am I to feel so bad when the world is burning around me? Who the fuck am I to complain when there is so much good in my life? But, I can’t get up. It is like a boot is fixed on my chest, musty and mocking and reaffirming that I am total shit. Telling me to shut the fuck up and stop whining. But, I can’t move. I can barely breathe. I can’t stop the tapes that play over and over in my head, telling me I am worthless, old and fat and stupid and a failure. My mind is my enemy. It feels so much stronger than my heart. It controls my bones and my words and the spaces in-between every single moment. What is wrong with me? I should be stronger than this. I should be so much more than this. But why? I have always been nothing. I apologize for being, for breathing, always feeling as if I was never supposed to do either. I can’t deal with talking to people, pretending that I am not breaking apart. When I can’t avoid my reflection, I berate it. I wish I was someone else. Why do I have to be this? This sadness? This garbage? This broken down shell of a person? Why do I hate myself so much? Why the hell did I have to be born into this shit?
Today is my birthday. Yesterday, my husband wanted to buy me something beautiful, but I told him I didn’t deserve anything beautiful because I am so ugly, inside and outside. I am 49 and fat and I am supposed to be better than this. I told him I didn’t want to celebrate me, that I don’t deserve to be celebrated. I took a pain-killer and a sleeping pill and I went to bed. It all hurt too much and I was hurting him and I didn’t want to hurt him. I just wanted to sleep.
I didn’t write all of what is above so people will tell me I am great. I didn’t write it as a cry for help or to worry people. I wrote it because it is the voice of depression and depression lies and I know it lies and I have been under the thumb of those lies so many times, I know I can get out. And, I will. I always do. If you read my poem, you will read that I fall into the pit, but I climb back out.
I have RP, but I am not ashamed. I have depression, but I am not ashamed. I didn’t ask for either of these things and if I could return them to sender, I would, but I can’t. So, I continue to live with both, to try to understand how to live with them when it all feels too overwhelming. And, I live knowing that I will be ok, because I am always ok.