Melissa and Heather have written a She Said/She Said about loving someone with depression.
We’ve been talking a lot about depression these last few weeks. It seems like everyone has been.
While all this talk about depression might seem overwhelming, it’s actually a good thing.
The more people stand up and say “Me too. This is my struggle”, the more stories that are related, the more that different ways depression appears and is dealt with are talked about, the better the chance that someone, somewhere will find the words to tell their own story or ask for help.
We lose too many people to the darkness that is depression.
Depression is a cruel liar.
And the more we call it out as the liar it is, maybe more people will find the strength to believe it.
There is more beyond the Dark.
Depression lies. I have said this before. It lies about happiness. It lies about my self-worth. It lies about friendship. It lies about love. It lies about living. When depression has its grip on my life, the lies it tells become all-consuming and I ooze these lies from every pore of my body.
Loving me through depression is not an easy thing to do. Depression creates a snappy, anxious, grumpy and very agitated Heather. The simplest tasks become completely burdensome. Take getting up for the day as an example. When not in the grips of depression, I am able to get up, shower, dress, do my hair, brush my teeth and possibly even put on makeup in a reasonable amount of time. During? I am lucky to get out of the bed and the thought of taking a shower, getting dressed and brushing my hair is enough to put me into a panic.
Loving someone suffering from depression is not an easy thing to do. I am not sure if what I am saying is making it better or worse. I’m not sure if I should say anything. Or do anything. But I want to. I want to fix it. I want to make it better. I want this amazing person to see how beautiful I think she is, and I want to believe I am a good friend. Remembering that depression lies is hard in the moment. But I try. And when the panic attacks come, I wait. And listen. And hope what I am doing is enough.
Not only do self-care chores seem almost insurmountable but household chores are completely and totally awful to even think about. The dishes that take 10 minutes to load into the dishwasher cause a panic attack and I look away. The laundry falls behind and we live out of baskets. The clutter begins to creep in and take away any sort happiness that I have about my house. The dirt, the clutter and the darkness start to take over the house and my head.
Avoidance is the best way to describe how my brain and my body deal with activities of daily living when I’m in the grips of depression. Now, you may be asking yourself why I can’t see what I’m doing and just “think happy thoughts” or “snap out of it,” and I really don’t have an answer for you. I desperately want to feel happy when depressed. I desperately want to have a clean house and to play with my kids. Desperately. I want it so badly but I cannot not seem to shake the darkness.
I desperately want you to “snap out of it” but I understand that isn’t helpful. Or even really possible. I want you to see the happiness you bring to your family and to life. Regardless of the clutter and the house and the dishes.
I wonder why you avoid me, and I hope you know I love you. I worry I am “too much” and that your avoidance is because I am “doing this all wrong.” What if I am loving you all wrong?
Then, the darkness starts to thicken becoming almost soup-like.
The thoughts of what life would be like if I wasn’t here start to trickle in. They are fleeting, just one or two here and there at first, but then they become more constant. Soon, I find that my brain is jumping to thoughts about death where thoughts about playdates used to be.
I would miss you so much. You matter. Please tell me you know how much you matter to me.
Depression has always been part of my life. I take daily medication and will probably be on it forever. For whatever reason, my brain does not do what it needs to do in order to operate out of depression without the medication. I also have several other physical health issues that can severely impact my depression. I discovered that my thyroid is low-functioning a few months ago after changing doctors and finding someone who would listen to me. A new medication and some dietary changes have dragged me out of the depths of darkness.
The thyroid meds are not a cure for my depression and anxiety, but rather a rope to help pull me out of the dark. It’s really hard to look back on the past few years and to know how bleak the dark had been. The guilt over what was said or not said, what was done or not done, and the mess I created is incredibly huge. To know that my depression affected my family and my friends is almost unbearable to acknowledge. Anyone going through depression will tell you that you do what you can to get through, but it doesn’t always feel good reflecting back on that afterwards.
I am still here. And still love you. Depression lies. But I do not. I am here.
Loving me isn’t easy. During the good times, it probably isn’t really hard, but when the darkness starts to loom it becomes almost impossible. I imagine that others with depression would probably say similar things and would also tell you that the guilt they feel is like a boulder weighing on their shoulders – even in the good times.
To all those who have stuck with me through the ups and downs – thank you for loving me where I was even when it would have been easier to leave.
Thank you for not making me leave.
I need to know I didn’t make it worse. I need to know the words I said were okay. So I can pull them out again when I need them. I need to know the times I sat and waited and poked and forced my hands from your face or swallowed the pain or hurt I had—I need to know that was the right thing to do.
I believe you when you say depression lies. I need you to believe me when I say I do not. You matter to me. Thank you for loving me where I was even if it would have been easier to leave.
If you, or someone you know is suffering from depression, or are in a bad space, please ask for help. If you can’t ask someone you know, please call one of these numbers. We are always here for you. There are people that are here for you.
Please reach out.
1 (866) 781-8010 Web: http://couragebeyond.org/
Consultant Line: 1(800) 342-9647 Web: www.militaryonesource.mil
Military Crisis Line: 1(800) 273-TALK (8255)
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE
1 (800) 273-TALK (8255) Web: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE
1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) Web: www.thehotline.org
NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT HOTLINE
1 (800) 656-HOPE (4673) Web: www.rainn.org
NATIONAL CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE
1 (800) 4-A-CHILD (422-4453) Web: www.childhelp.org
NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN
1 (800) THE-LOST (843-5678) Web: www.missingkids.com
Note: Many of these have options for those with communication
needs such as Español only or hearing impaired. Check the organization’s website for details.