While my family and I were in Tennessee I decided to finally tackle writing about my depression. I’m going to post what I wrote on July 1 largely unedited. Since is was written while I was actively feeling off, or feeling “depressed,” it’ll be a little more accurate to how I feel rather than if I were to write about it while having a good moment.
And remember, these are my experiences. Each persons depression can manifest in different ways.
Depression is a funny thing.
Some days you feel numb. Other days you go from feeling normal-ish happy to incredibly upset at the slightest thing.
It started out slowly for me, with really identifiable causes. After getting married we’d moved to a tiny town where we didn’t have our friends or family. There weren’t really any prospective jobs in my field of my major, and the two biggest employers in town (other than the university) were Walmart and food places. If I have any lines I won’t cross for myself it’s that I couldn’t handle being a waitress, and I refuse to work for a company like Walmart.
Those were the first two “causes” of my depression. As I sat at our new home, day after day, with no friends or family to visit, no activities to do in town, and no job to go to, there’s not much more to do than sit at home and think about your life. [Edit today: That’s not to say there weren’t people in town I considered friends, like the Gamez family. During the day they were at work and thus unavailable.]
The job situation was probably the true start of my downward spiral. I recognize the job market is set up against you (you need a job to gain experience, but all the jobs require you to have experience already. It’s ANGERING), but after a few months it’s hard not to put some of the blame on yourself. Especially when you apply for a job you’d love multiple times and it’s pretty clear you’re not experienced enough.
As a result, I thought moving back to Waco would help a ton. We were going to be back in “my city,” where my friends were, much closer to both of our families, better access to shops and activities, and best of all, more job opportunities. For a few months, the excitement of all of those factors was enough to make me feel NORMAL again.
Spoiler alert: not only did I not get better, I spiraled even further.
I learned to blame everything on myself. Why wasn’t I happy? We were where I felt most at home, but I was still miserable. What was wrong with me? I had a wonderful, caring, generous husband who loved me and a cat I loved unconditionally and adored me back, a great apartment, a decent financial situation…I could go on and on. It didn’t seem to matter.
Depression sometimes has no reason. It sneaks into your brain insisting you aren’t good enough, why does anyone even both with you, you’re not gonna succeed anyway so why try. The easiest tasks suddenly become the hardest. Making a sandwich becomes a monumental task. Taking a shower is pointless and takes so long, which ugh. Getting out of bed, or even going to bed, is exhausting. Existing becomes exhausting.
And all the while your brain is convincing you that no, it’s not the day to day tasks that aren’t worth it – it’s YOU.
My depression is interesting to me because I’ve largely been aware that I was depressed the entire time. I’ve known a number of friends who’ve gone through depression and so I know all the things that are good for you to do if you’re depressed, like even just being aware that it’s the depression saying you’re horrible and not yourself. I thought being so educated about depression would help me handle it.
It didn’t matter much. When I got emotional, I progressed very quickly from “I’m just so upset about _______” to “Why am I so upset, no one should want to be around me, I don’t even like me, I’m the worst.” I found out that it was so easy to hate myself because of my shortcomings that my depression was turning into deal-breakers. I never actually thought about killing myself, but I did catch myself thinking, “it would be so much easier if I weren’t here,” for me and everyone around me. Then they wouldn’t have to worry about making me upset, or taking care of my lazy, unmotivated ass, and would be better off. And for me, I could finally be done being sad and so damn TIRED.
And every time I was terrified at how close that was to saying that I wished I was dead.
I finally made the choice to start seeing a counselor. It was rough at first. After internalizing everything and pushing down all my emotions but sadness, I struggled with how to communicate. Recently my counselor told me how proud she was of how far we’ve come. I’m proud too, but there’s still so much father to go.
I’m feeling a lot better in general, and a large part of that (for me!) is being on antidepressants. It’s not going to be right for everyone, but I was losing that fight inside my mind on my own. It made me feel emotionally numb for a bit, which was incredibly strange after MONTHS of crying nearly daily and having no end in sight. I kept waiting for the reprieve to be over.
I’ve had a few hard moments, but it’s better than being down 24/7.