Let’s pretend you have a pet that is constantly hungry. You can’t leave the house, you can’t sleep, you can’t even take a shower because anytime you want to do something for yourself, this monster of a pet just won’t allow it to happen. It’s hungry. It wants to be fed and it wants to be fed NOW. Oh you’re exhausted, feed it. You want to do something for yourself? Too bad, feed it. It’s all consuming, it never sleeps, it never is satisfied, and you cannot get rid of it. Chronic depression is the pet you never asked for that demands your attention all day, every day.
The sneaky little bastard, I was doing okay. I like to refer to my mental health as stable-ish, which is frankly the best I can hope for. My “pet” depression finally gets board or decides to take a nap and for a brief moment you think, “Hey maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s gone.” But it never leaves, it just waits and it’s not always obvious when it comes back. Unlike a real pet you can’t see the damned thing, it just floats around invisible in the background eating, not food, you.
By the time you realize what’s happening it’s already been a few days, or longer. Maybe you’ve lost sleep and just feel drained. You can’t get any work done and the world just feels slightly further away than normal. It’s subtle and when you finally catch what’s going on there’s no relief because there’s no way to stop it. Or at least in my case, there’s no real way to stop it. Your mileage may vary.
I’ve heard stories about people finding medication that works well, controls the issues, and gives people a somewhat normal life. I have yet to find anything like that. Instead I’m on several medications that are supposed to help and do for the most part, until they don’t anymore. It’s just something I’ve learned to live with at this point and when it hits, it never gets any easier to deal with.
It started a few days ago in earnest. Normally I catch it quicker than this, but it finally occurred to me last night what was happening. At first I was just losing sleep, so during the day I was feeling exhausted. Like hit by a truck, no amount of caffeine seemed to have an effect, exhausted. It spiraled from there and before I knew it I was where I am now. I’m still functioning, I’ve showered, fed myself, hell I’m writing this right now. I have strategies to deal with it. Yes, the depression is hungry again, but I’ve gotten numb to the bits it chews off.
It’s an odd thing to admit. You get used to having parts of your insides torn away. Maybe they scarred over and aren’t so easily torn away anymore. I think that’s how I want to imagine it, this thing just eating you and you’re so scarred from all the previous feedings that you no longer feel it and it no longer gets the easy mouthful it’s looking for, the bastard. That doesn’t make it less exhausting, but it is more tolerable then it was years ago.
I mean I always, always want to kill myself. The trick is that I don’t ever follow up on the desire. So maybe I have really good self control now (at least in that regard, my self control in other areas is crap). For the record, I am safe, I’m not going to hurt myself, and I’m definitely not going to kill myself, let’s just get that out of the way now. The point is that sometimes people have these feelings and they don’t want to share them because they are afraid or feel alone.
That’s a running theme around here, feeling alone. I know I feel alone a lot and I don’t want others to feel that way. That is just how depression works though, you feel alone, you feel like its too much energy to do anything else besides sit there and watch as this invisible thing just eats away at you. And frankly why wouldn’t you feel alone in that instance, it seems like everyone else is doing just fine and no one notices that this invisible thing is chowing down in the background. Maybe you’re over reacting, maybe it doesn’t matter, maybe you just need to look on the bright side. Hell at least you’re useful to the thing eating you alive, right?
I haven’t felt this bad in awhile and it’s just a good reminder that carrying this thing around is very real physically and mentally exhausting work. I’ve gotten responses in the past from people telling me to just be happy or other just as useless advice. But this invisible thing eating me alive leaves very real, very visible scars and I am not being artistic when I use the phrase eating. There is several studies that have shown a reduction in grey matter in the different areas of the brain in people who are chronically depressed (like this one)(or this one)(or this meta-study on this phenomena). So when I say that there is an invisible thing eating me alive, I mean that less in the metaphoric sense and more in the literal sense.
Something to remember when people try to tell you it’s all in your head. The last time I checked your head is still a part of you that needs to function for you to be alive. Life is all in your head. At the end of the day, I just need to sit through this and let whatever chronic depression is run its course. Maybe one day after playing medication roulette for so long I’ll find something that fixes the problem, then again maybe I wont. For now I will manage the way I’ve been managing for the past decade or so since my last suicide attempt. Being the calm in a storm is exhausting, so I don’t suspect I’ll get much done until it passes.
It took a considerable amount of effort just to write all this, but if I absolutely must suffer, I might as well share it in case anyone else is going through something similar. I’m not sure how I want to end this post, normally writers tend to sign off with some poignant take away or some last thought. I attempt to do that from time to time since it feels like the “correct” thing to do.
I guess in lieu of saying something truly earth shattering, I’ll simply say be kind to each other. It’s hard to know what a person is going through. As an example, the people around me, who definitely do not know I blog much less read my blog, have no clue that I’m going through any of this. So be kind, it’s not that hard.