Monday, February 27, 2006

Context

I've had this post sitting in my drafts for a week. I've added to it, removed from it, had my finger hovering over the delete button and the post button alternatively. First worried it was too personal, then that it wasn't personal enough, and at last that no one cared any way. Doubt, second-guessing, insecurity, etc.

I made this blog, all those years ago, as a place to vent. A place I could say all the things I will never ever say. Hence the title. It's not so easy to do now, given most of you reading this actually know me. There are a great many things I'm not saying that I really, really, really, REALLY need to say.

I know what happens when I let silence rule me. Silence is yet another of those goblins that harass me. So this is venting. You all know someone who isn't a happy person, and this is a little bit of what it's like. Give them a tap.

Suffering From Depression vs Being Depressed

I have been discussing depression with a couple of friends recently, and was informed that apparently there's a difference between being depressed, and suffering depression. I didn't realise, although if I had thought about it for long enough, it should have been obvious.

Everyone, at some time in their lives, becomes depressed. No one has a good time all the time.

That doesn't mean one suffers depression. Being depressed, even for those suffering depression, is usually circumstantial. After a while, the circumstances go away, and the depression does to.

For me, being depressed is-

DEPRESSION

A grey, wet blanket. Wool, so it is heavy, and scratchy.

-which differs from person to person. For Winston Churchill, depression was a black dog that followed him around.

Suffering from depression means that that grey, wet blanket never goes a way. It sits just there. Every. Single. Day.

When depressed, it covers my whole head, so that I can't see or hear, I can't speak, and sometimes, I can't breathe. It's paralyzing. On the good days, it pulls back to just sit there, being heavy, cumbersome, but not in the way. But it never goes away.

It means that, on the good nights, you have trouble sleeping, and on the bad nights, you can't sleep because you're crying, and have been for hours.

It means on good days you're enjoying yourself, having a glimpse of what it feels to be a normal person, and yet waiting for that one look, pause, sentence that will ruin it all and bring you back down. And it does.

It means you spend a lot of time avoiding people, because people hurt you. Never intentionally, but you're sensitive, and you can hear everything that isn't said as well as the many inflections of what is said, and you can read between lines to entire universes that don't exist, and the strength of your insecurity and doubt has the power to destroy even the happiest of bubbles.

It means you spend a lot of time in your head, to hide from these people who mean you no harm. You take refuge in your warmest memories, and then, because you cannot help yourself, you systematically tear them apart, and poison them with doubt, and tell yourself that it never meant anything to anyone else but you.

It means you know yourself well, very well. You get tired of your own company, and when you're not avoiding all contact with the human race, you're obsessively checking your phone or email, to see if anyone feels any need to acknowledge your existence.

It means when you need help, you're incapable of asking for it. You sit there with the phone in your hand, staring at the wall, playing through your mind all the conversations you might have with all the people you could call, but you don't. You say it's because you don't want to impose, but really, it's because you're terrified they won't understand, or won't care, and that the slightest rejection will make you crumple.

It means you look at the days, weeks, years, decades, minutes of your life stretching out before you, and the sheer length of it sucks the breath from your lungs, because the thought of having to go through every one of those days is crushing, is more than you can handle. So you don't think about it.

It means on good days you don't like yourself, and on bad days you hate yourself.

It means when people ask 'how are you?', you give nothing answers, 'okay', 'alright', because the truth takes too long, and no one wants to be burdened with someone elses darkness, and they never know what to say anyway.

It means you carefully push your friends to arm's length. Words are so very cheap, and not matter how well meant, words don't mean anything to you anymore. So you'd rather nothing was said.

It means you need some sort of acknowledgement that you're not a worthless sack of meat as much as you need air, because you can't convince yourself otherwise.

It means you're constantly tired, because every day is one long battle with yourself, to not assume the worst of the world, to acknowledge that it isn't personal, to remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with your life and you have no reason to for all this anger, and hatred, and misery. And why are you crying on the train?

It means you're strong, because you've had to carry a heavy burden for a long time. But its a strength like glass; easy to see through, easy to break. There is no armour thick enough.

It means you spend most of your life alone, because you're afraid of what the world might do to you. You're hard to get to know, so a lot of people don't try.

It means the walls are always up. The walls are always down. You're nothing but contradictions, and no one knows what the weather is like in your head from one minute to the next.

It means you see life as an ocean. Everyone else seems to have a boat, and they coast about on the surface as if it were fun. You lost your boat. Perhaps you never had one, and now you're in the water, and every day you struggle to keep your head above water, with this grey, wet blanket tangling you up and dragging you down.

Somtimes, it means you drown.

Someties, it means you're very good at treading water.

33 comments:

Jaime said...

I ... yeah.

You ever feel like you move in everyone else's peripheral vision, like they know you're there but they never really look at you?

Tessa said...

Yeah. But I make it that way.

deborahb said...

:(

*listening*

damselfly said...

hey you

Gillian said...

I have those times too, which doesn't help you at all. Chocolate helps though.

I was going to email you to say I am definitely coming to Melbourne before Conjure (cos of Passover - family requires etc) so we should meet.

Andrew Macrae said...

Over the years I have seen people I love crippled by depression. It's the most insidious, debilitating, awful, awful illness.

I have also seen people I love recover from depression and manage it, with help.

Granfalloon said...

Word. Nicely put, Tessa.

trudi said...

You use the same imagery that I do - the endless ocean. Sometimes you're strong and buoyant, sometimes it's an effort just to keep your head above water, sometimes the water is so cold it hurts and you just want to give in and sink.

The 'Suffering from Depression' kind was nothing like that, however. It was far, far worse. I called it 'the blackness'. There' was no imagery at all. Just a void. Paralysing emptiness. I used to sit in a chair all weekend unable to make even the smallest decision. When deciding whether to eat or not is difficult, deciding to get help is impossible. And there wasn't anyone around who cared enough to help.

Scariest year of my life.

What's weird is, while I barely wrote a word at the time, I produced painting after painting.

(Hmm, which blog did I read recently that said people tend to reveal more personal things about themself on other blogs than on their own?)

Hang in there Tess. We like you, even when you don't.

Among Amid While said...

One of the good things about virtual hugs is that they go on for exactly the right amount of time for the huggee to get a little comfort without either party getting embarrassed or having to think of the next thing to say when the hug finishes.

So here is one:
>>O<<

You are so full of brains and talent. This bad time will pass.

Margo.

Anonymous said...

*hug*
You know you can make that call any time, and I'm sure I speak for others too.

S.

Anonymous said...

Wow, amazing. Really, really accurate and good.

David.

harley said...

Email.

Anonymous said...

Here via Deborahb and...yeah. Yeah.

Hope things get better for you soon.

- Hannah

Sander said...

So many people in this world you'd like to *know*... So few for whom you were there at the right time, at the right place, knowing to say the right thing that'd allow you to connect and be able to help when help was needed.

For the others, what's left but well-meant but ultimately shallow hugs?
[/wistful]

*hugs all the same*

Suzanne said...

We're out here, listening.

I know what you mean. I'm on the drugs now, and they make a huge difference. I still have days when I hate myself but they aren't every day.

If you're toying with trying SSRI's I will stand up and admit that they made a profound difference in my life.

Selena said...

Mine is like a fog or a mist or something. It gathers around me more thickly some days and thins out on others but it always makes me feel apart. Everyone else is out there in the sunshine and my light gets filtered through and turns out murky. And some people have very bright headlights and on all but the days with the thinnest mist their lights reflect in the fog and make everything that much more confusing.

*leaves a seam ripper for picking at the stitches in your blanket*

Among Amid While said...

Ditto Suzanne.
Margo.

JeffV said...

*Virtual head squeeze*. ;)

I find that work, and trying to live in the moment and not thinking so much is the best thing to do for normal depression.

Actual clinical depression is a different beastie, of course. But even there, the mind is a powerful thing that can right itself with just a little help.

And everyone does get depressed, and that's okay. Sometimes we have to give ourselves permission to be depressed without guilt, because we're supposed to be happy all the time, which is just bullshit.

If it helps any, I think you're an endlessly fascinating, funny, and intelligent human being.

JeffV

Anonymous said...

So beautifully, heart-achingly written.

My depression lives in my joints, like someone's taken drills to them. I walk like an old man when I'm sad.

-scott w

leena_te said...

I don't really know you... I followed a link from crystalsage's journal, but I really wanted to say thanks. *smiles* Thank you for finding the strength to express so eloquently what depression really means to both you and a lot of other people. I think it will help a lot of people understand. And more importantly, I hope this post has been really cathartic and theraputic for you.

I'm quite literally speechless... all I can think is.."wow that was me". It took a lot of years and a lot of work to step away from that edge you defined so clearly, I pray that some day you will be able to say 'that -was- me' as well.

Anonymous said...

try this website

www.coping.org. It also has a online course around writng skills

Anonymous said...

So very well put. So very true.

You are not alone.

Ross said...

So very eleoquently written Tessa - you captured the essence of it so much better than I ever could. One of the hardest things when depressed is to realise that there are people who give a damn about you and what happens to you. Instead, you end up convinced that it's the opposite. Hang on in there.

Heather said...

Absolutely.

I had post natal depression after the birth of my fifth child, and crawling out from under that oppressive blanket was the hardest thing I've ever done, especially as I truly did have to do it, not only on my own, but in the face of another who should have been my love and support but who actually wanted me to stay there.

I think Trudi's description of "the blackness" about covers it. I had to Eventually, I had to fight to stop that darkness from completely choking me.

It took me 2 years to beat it, but it was in the fight that it stopped beating me.

Fortunately a lot of clinical depression has an organic cause. I'm on email if you EVER need anything. No, it's no imposition.

Anonymous said...

My name is also tessa and i go through a lot of depression sometimes from family issues and ohter stuff. that was really true. nice words.

Anonymous said...

I...this...
i could have written that
It goes away
but comes back..
and then goes away..
then comes back...

Anonymous said...

When I'm depressed, I split myself, watch myself being sucked into the wormhole and is reluctant to pull myself back to life. plunge into the ocean.

*hugs* hope you will get better soon, Tessa.

cate

OrbitalDiamonds said...

Wow, you nailed it. I've described my depression as a wet woolen blanket before too, and I have a hard time asking for help, and, well, ...all of it.

OrbitalDiamonds said...

I'd like to quote this, and link back to it, at my LiveJournal and Dreamwidth journals, if you don't mind.

Tessa said...

You're more than welcome to.

It's been a few years since I wrote this, and I like to think I've changed (or at least learned a lot) since then, but it still rings true. I suspect it always will. Reading it again was an interesting juxtaposition of remembering what the worst of it felt like, and remembering that while we're all alone in our own battles, none of us are beyond understanding.

There's some comfort in that. Not much, but some.

OrbitalDiamonds said...

Thank you.

soft grass said...

you posted this forever ago, but it's nice to see people speaking so openly about depression. sometimes caffeine throws me into a funk, but since i got married, depression doesn't have quite the power it used to...it's nice to have someone else (my spouse) bringing new, more positive perspective into everything.

thanks for your good words!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting in words that which I have been unable to do. I have read your post over and over and cry every single time. Most of it is exactly how I feel and as I read about how gigantic the future feels, I literally did have to take a large breath. Thank you for helping me acknowledge how I feel. I have allowed my very few and very close friends to read it in the hope that it will explain a little more of the confusing me. Thanks again.