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As you know, I went out on a limb for a few weeks there, trying to let people in on how I’m doing and being open about the fact that I’m feeling super depressed. I blogged about it, I told friends, and stayed honest with my therapist. After a bit of doing that, however, I realized that no one can magically help me feel better. None of my friends are wizards or witches, unfortunately, and no, I don’t know any fairy godmothers. I started to adopt the attitude that no one can help me because they can’t undo what’s been done to me in my life. No one can turn my feelings off like a faucet. So instead of telling my friends that I need them to come over and bring all the towels that they own, I’ve almost drowned in my pain all by myself.
Anyone with a mental illness knows that sometimes letting people know how you’re doing can make things worse. Why? People worry. And when they worry, sometimes they do things that don’t help at all. They call too much or not enough. They say the wrong thing while trying to say the right thing. No one is perfect, but that’s no excuse for me to stop communicating with those who care about me.
Easier said than done. I’ve written like six posts over the past three weeks and haven’t felt safe enough to hit the “publish” button when they are finished. I’ve withdrawn from Facebook and chatting online, and don’t even bother trying to call me because using the phone is out of the question. I’ve become a hermit.
And I feel so ashamed for feeling this terrible! Even though I try no to use the word “should” I keep slipping up, telling myself: I should be doing better than this.
Last week I wrote down everything that felt wrong with me:
- I can’t concentrate and my memory is terrible
- I can’t think more than a few days into the future without getting overwhelmed
- Crowds and people are really stressing me out again. I’m startled easily.
- I’m tired all the time but I can’t sleep. My apartment is a mess.
- I have little appetite or interest in food so I’m surviving on unhealthy junk
- It’s taking more and more effort to keep my mood away from misery
- I’m scared all the time
- And worst of all I hate myself for this. I feel so guilty and ashamed. I feel like the scum of the earth.
Remember how English teachers talk about essay writing by using the hamburger format? If you mix together poor concentration, feelings of despair, disturbances in sleep and eating patterns, and guilt and shame, what do you get?
I’VE BAKED A FUCKING DEPRESSION CAKE.
Also known as plain old Depression, but calling it a depression cake sounds much nicer, doesn’t it? (if you want to know more about depression symptoms, check this page on mindyourmind.ca)
So forget the English class hamburger essay writing format, this depression cake is more relevant for me today. The good news is that I already know I suffer from major depression. I have a psychiatrist and a therapist who can help me get back on my feet. And I have friends who are ready to help me too.
I need to think about what those friends can do to help me and then fill them in. Keep the communication lines open. Cut up this depression cake and dissect it into smaller pieces that are easier to swallow, digest, and learn from. It’s a slow process but like anything it has to have a beginning and an end. I think I’m getting closer to where I need to be.
Erin Schulthies is the writer of Daisies and Bruises, a blog about "finding her way one step and one word at a time". After losing most of her youth to severe depression, she decided that since death was no longer an option, she had to find a way to live. This is it.