Depression. It can occur at any time and hit any person, regardless of age, sex, wealth, nationality or circumstance.
Take me, for example: The first time I heard her knock on my door, I was ten years old. I don't know how to explain how I felt at that time-only that I was just so tired. I remember coming home from school every day, curling my body into a tight little ball of gangly limbs and denim shorts, crawling into my pink canopy bed, feeling wave after wave of nothingness crash against the walls, lulling my body to sleep with its soothing rhythm.
My mother: "You can't sleep away your problems, Beth."
What problems? I had lots of friends, I made good grades, I lived in a big three-story house with upper-middle-class parents who loved me, I never wanted for anything, and quite honestly, had the picture-perfect childhood. I was just exhausted.
See, that's the thing about depression so many people don't understand. Can it be caused by a certain negative experience or really difficult time in one's life? Of course. But for many of us, it is a never ending battle that pins us down, keeps us up at night or holds us hostage in our beds. We guiltily remind ourselves of everything we need to be doing, everything good in our lives. But she has a romantic way of luring us into the dark cocoon of our head, saying, "It's too much for you to handle, anyway. Quit trying."
Because more often than not lately, it's been happening after all the good things falling into my lap. I feel the rush of what could be, the glimmer of a life grander than I have ever imagined. But depression's little cousin, fear, offers to come by, stroke my hair softly, sing me a lullaby and give me a place to rest my head-so full of ideas they both remind me I'm not capable of carrying out.
I know there are things I can and should do. Things that will scare her away. Like, call an old friend, exercise, read, write a poem. But the second she shows her face, I let her crawl inside my salty, yellow lungs, lay her heavy head upon my chest, give her a soft kiss upon her forehead, and together, we hide.
I love her and I hate her. Out of anyone in the entire world, she knows me best. We have spent so many days & nights entrapped in each other's arms, sharing secrets, clinging together with hands laced tight. She allows me to waste time, reassuring me all of my efforts are in vain-granting me the option to give up.
I hate her because I do not want to give up. She sucks the marrow of my bones and invites anxiety and self-pity to supper, both of whom are excellent cooks. She is a skilled boxer, and has beat me so many times, I am terrified to even spar.
But somedays, I fight like hell. I bury myself in projects; I ask my sister if she will please come see me. I dream impossibly big. I put on a pretty dress and lipstick. I tell an old woman she is beautiful-and mean it. I read old love letters. I allow myself to truly receive a compliment. And believe it.
Depression will never completely abandon me. She has crawled into my ribs and permanently tangled herself in my hair. But I remind myself that she is a fickle visitor, that she has multiple house calls to make, that she will grow weary of me and fly away.
But as for today? I slept most of it away. I worried about money. I worried about writing this, because I know I am capable of expressing this feeling much better than I did. I know my words and the way I use them is a gift. I know I did not make the best use of that gift.
But, I wrote. Therefore, I win today's battle. And I will try again tomorrow. I will not rest easy, but rest, I will.
And sometimes, just sometimes, I give her a tired smile and a thank you. Just for listening....
One of my favorite poems that explains how I feel.