Last year at RWA, I attended a session on writing through depression. I was with one of the panelists before the session began and she was worried not many people would show up.
I laughed and told her it would be a packed room. “We’re writers,” I said, “We’re all fucked up somehow.”
I was right. It was a packed room. It was a great discussion. It was nice just to be able to say, “yeah, me too”. Because all too often the admission of depression (which is hard enough) is met with “Why?” or “What do you have to be depressed about?”
That question is what brought me to the edge of suicide several years ago. Because I had nothing to be depressed about. I had a good job, making good money. I had (and still have) an awesome man with whom I think I’ve had three arguments in the 10 + years we been together. I had no financial problems. No health problems. At that time, my mother and brother’s health problems were nothing more than a minor blip.
So, why was I faking my way through every day? Why did I stay in bed, doing nothing but staring at the ceiling until the alarm I set for three p.m. went off. I set that alarm so I would get up, get showered and make the fella think I’d been doing stuff all day. My life narrowed down to preserving and funneling all my energy into just being able to function at my job.
I was so ashamed of how I felt. (I mean, look at so&so, her life is WAY worse than mine). When I finally made the appointment to see my doctor, I lied. Told the receptionist my elbow was hurting again. Then when my doctor came in, I just broke down. I told her I didn’t know why I was feeling like this.
“Other than the fact that you just came off birth control, you’re in the beginning stages of menopause and your hormones are completely out of control, you mean?”
Yeah, other than that.
I was lucky, the first medication we tried worked very well at a low dose with few side effects.
But it never really goes away, this disease. It slinks around in the dark corners of our minds, waiting. Waiting for illness or a stressor to trip us up. Waiting for the opportunity to start whispering in our ears again.
And anyone one who has struggled with this knows the feeling. You know what you need to do to get through those moments, those days, those weeks. But you are walking through molasses. The very air around you holds you back, holds you down while you struggle to just take one more step forward. Knowing you can’t stop. No, stopping is exactly what the monster wants you to do.
I’ll get there. I’m just walking slow this week.