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.
May 15, 2018 at 11:14 am
This is so visceral and savage Sue. Explicitly descriptive. It gives me a much better idea of what it is like for people who carry this burden, and I thank you for that. Too bad they don’t have an enema you can use to flush all that bad shit out (hope that made you smile)
May 15, 2018 at 11:24 am
Steve, I absolutely love you! Thank you, for understanding and seeing what I was trying to covey….and for making me laugh!!!!! xo
May 15, 2018 at 2:45 pm
We aim to please
May 15, 2018 at 6:13 pm
If there was a like button for all the previous comments, I would like them all…. you do have a great network of friends. Personally, I think the worst part of being depressed is the guilt we feel about being depressed…. People have it worse than we do, we have good things in our lives…why the hell do WE feel so bad? That’s what my little depression bitch says to me every chance she gets…. Susan when you shine you SHINE REALLY FRICKING bright…doesn’t it make sense that when you are dim, you are really dim? I am glad you know that this too will pass….. I am getting ready to shine again hun, and I would love to have you by my side….when you are ready
May 16, 2018 at 7:43 am
Absolutely, Grace!!! Let’s shine together!!!! Everything you say makes total sense. Depression is such an asshole.
May 15, 2018 at 11:44 am
I love that you were brave enough to write out what you were feeling and feel each day . As you know I too still suffer badly with the big “D” too and we climb up and are happy for a day or two . Then it grabs hold of us and takes each happy thought and smile and feeling away . It’s getting harder each time to come back out and try to participate in a normal day . Great writing as always Susan x hugs
May 15, 2018 at 12:03 pm
You can text me anytime. We don’t have to talk. We can be sad and grumbly and drink wine. Love to you, my friend xo
May 15, 2018 at 12:38 pm
Thank you for sharing, sweetie. Your pain is tangible. I had no idea it was this deep.
I was reading about the life of Frida Kahlo the other day and she said she started drinking to drown her sorrows, but the damn things knew how to swim.
That’s why depression is so overwhelming. You can’t shake it off easily, no matter what you do, where you are and with whom, though it’s comforting to know you’re loved regardless. It takes time, energy, changing your mindset and maybe lowering your expectations.
Before you learn to celebrate yourself and start to open your mouth around the possibility of hope, let us do it instead of you.
May 15, 2018 at 12:58 pm
Thank you, my friend. I love Frida Kahlo and I love even more that you quoted her, and how true her words are….I feel sometimes as if each day of my life is a mountain and each day I have to decide whether or not to try and climb. Depression has a very loud and alluring voice that makes the mountain seem insurmountable, the climbing impossible. But, the older I get, the more new paths I find. You are so right that regardless, it does help so very much knowing that I am loved and that even when I feel alone, I am not, not really.
Have I told you that I love and adore you?!!!!!!
May 15, 2018 at 1:39 pm
So many times, and I can’t get enough, just like you. You’re so precious to me. So precious.
We all have our issues. We all struggle, one way or the other. The least we can do is lend an ear. And that is so much already.
May 15, 2018 at 1:56 pm
It is everything. Everything.
May 15, 2018 at 1:49 pm
It truly is a shame how this disease is treated. And the fact that depression is so over-diagnosed for women makes it even worse. It is legitimate and frightening. I don’t know one person that suffers from it that does not suffer greater for the stigma they feel. And the way way so many people think you can “just get over it” or “think happy thoughts”. They can all go fuck themselves.
Yes, there may be chemical imbalance undertones that impact these waves. Blanket anti-D meds, though, are dangerous and SO overpre-scribed.
Susan, you are fighting this, and you are not alone.
May 15, 2018 at 1:57 pm
Thank you, Sweet Wulf! I Love you, my friend!
May 15, 2018 at 2:19 pm
Long distance hug, Susan! ❤️
May 15, 2018 at 6:15 pm
Wulf is right, you are not alone Susan. My son just turned 43 on Sunday and has lived wuth depression for 23 years now. It is everything you described and i worry all the time for him. And yes, as Wulf says, people who don’t realize that it is a deadly disease can go fuck themselves. God bless you Susan. You are fighting the good fight. All love to you my friend. ☺❤
May 16, 2018 at 7:45 am
I am sending so much love to you, Walt. Thank you for your gentle and lovely ways. I am lucky to know you and your son is lucky that you are his Dad.
May 15, 2018 at 7:26 pm
Bravery, thy name is Susan. You are an amazing human!
May 16, 2018 at 7:46 am
The feeling is totally mutual, my friend! I love you beautiful lady!
May 16, 2018 at 2:07 am
I appreciate your bravery in writing and publishing this. Depression is so ugly, and its emotions make you feel so wretched.
May 16, 2018 at 7:47 am
Thank you Katie! It actually feels better to write about it and I think it is important to put it out there, as there are so many people who suffer silently with depression.
May 16, 2018 at 10:21 am
Last week, when I was in a rut, I couldn’t get a grip on the things that make me smile. I was “taking life too seriously,” as I like to say. At one point I said to myself, “why can’t I slip out of this depression?!”
I caught myself. What I was feeling was out of sorts. Depression is a whole different animal. The one you described. The one I saw on my mother all too often in her life. The crippling kind. I’ve seen its savage impact on people. I hate that is has such a savage impact on you.
I know you didn’t write this to worry people, but I can’t help that. I’m gonna worry as much as I am going to learn. You’ll have to accept that. 🙂
And, by the way, happy birthday to you! You deserve beautiful things because you’re beautiful. You deserve to be celebrated. We, who are among you, feel honored to be so. 🤗
May 16, 2018 at 4:11 pm
I love you, my friend. Thank you!
May 16, 2018 at 4:55 pm
I also wanted to say that when I read this, I felt sorry that you have been in a rut, but so glad to know that when you are in that space, you have the love and safely of your home with your beautiful wife and lovely golden dogs. xoxoxo
May 16, 2018 at 5:05 pm
It is great that, even when we’re down, we have so much love around us. Likewise, Susan! ❤️
May 16, 2018 at 10:41 am
so brave and brutally honest…so much resonates with others in the same boat…
May 16, 2018 at 4:15 pm
Thank you so much. Reaching others who feel similarly is one of the reasons I write. I feel like it is woven into the purpose of my writing. It makes me very happy to hear that I am achieving it from time to time. You are so lovely and generous!
May 17, 2018 at 1:10 am
most welcome…well you reached my heart and soul…thank you for your kind words , just another struggling human being…
May 16, 2018 at 6:39 pm
This is incredibly brave and true. That’s exactly what the lying voice of depression sounds like – it’s really powerful hearing it put into words. Thank you.
May 17, 2018 at 6:00 am
Thank you so much! It is my hope that in writing about it, I and everyone who writes about it, can take away the shame and help others. I am grateful for your reading, your kindness and support.
May 17, 2018 at 6:21 am
I know, I go there too. It seems like each time should be the last time because it won’t stop… then you do, you crawl out. Reducing your episodes by saying I don’t have it as bad as… [insert ANY name]. Well, it’s dangerous, it is a killer but you can treat it. However, no matter what, depression ‘flares.’ You experience an increase in symptoms that will subside IF you can hold on. Although treatable, it rears its ugly head again, and again… while you berate yourself for feeling miserable. I hope I have the strength to crawl out of that hole everytime it engulfs me, I pray you do too. Every time, dear Susan. Hold on, just wait it out, and begin to crawl when you can.
May 17, 2018 at 6:27 am
I know you have been in this place again and again Kim and you write about it so bravely and openly. It inspired me to do the same. When I was young, I just wanted to get rid of it, but as I got older and understood that I couldn’t, I began to find new pathways and thankfully I always manage to climb up out of the despair, but the weight of it is indescribable.
May 17, 2018 at 6:31 am
May 17, 2018 at 9:35 am
Words can’t express my thanks and appreciation for your sharing this, Susan. It’s so visceral and relatable.
May 17, 2018 at 9:50 am
Thank you so much, Angela. I am grateful for your reading and your kindness. I hope that in continuing to write about these things, they will become less secret, less in shadow.
May 17, 2018 at 9:53 am
I agree! No more shame or guilt! Here’s to truth, compassion, and healing.
May 17, 2018 at 4:34 pm
May 18, 2018 at 7:17 am
Writing about my mental wellness challenges has been my most effective form of therapy. I wish you all the best.
May 18, 2018 at 8:26 am
I feel exactly the same. Thank you so much!
May 18, 2018 at 10:52 pm
Reblogged on Stone in the Road, a collection of Stories, chronic illness focused. This post is too important not to share.
May 19, 2018 at 5:57 am
Thank you, Kim. I hope it will help someone. Lots of love to you!!!
May 19, 2018 at 8:08 am
It will help, be certain about that! xo
May 20, 2018 at 9:29 am
Happy belated birthday, and thank you for sharing! ❤️✊🏼
May 20, 2018 at 10:12 am
Thanks, Dylan! I know you have one coming up. 35 was a big one for me. It seems as if it is for you as well. I always get so excited when you post; your writing is thoughtful and brilliant and challenges me and makes me think!
May 20, 2018 at 10:13 am
You’re too kind!