This one’s for you, Kelsey.
The devil of the thing about depression is that no one knows what causes it. Clinically speaking, it’s an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Now, there are other kinds of depression, say, when life is hard and gets you down, or when you’re experiencing grief, caused by anything from a lost relationship, the death of a loved one or even the loss of a job. Those are bumps in the road, to be sure.
Depression, though, can happen out of the blue. One day you wake up and realize you’re cloaked in a shroud of gloom. So you give yourself pep talks. You tell yourself to “snap out of it.” You try various tactics; food, exercise, shopping, calling a friend. Nothing works. You re-examine your life and remind yourself there’s nothing to be depressed about. You look at friends who are battling cancer or who have difficult home lives and you say, I really have no right to feel this way.
Still, it persists.
It was a long time before I could admit to myself that what was happening to me was not my fault. I could find no reason for my sudden, inexplicable sobbing attacks. I could not bring myself to talk about it, or ask for help. I still find it incredibly difficult to talk about — simply cannot make the words come out of my mouth — but I’m trying; I really am. My whole life I’ve found it easier to write about that which I cannot speak, so here I am, writing my way through this.
An analogy: I once took a scuba diving lesson. I stood at the bottom of a deep end of an indoor swimming pool and looked up to the surface. I breathed, carefully, in and out. I felt utterly alone and was filled with anxiety over the effort it took just to breathe. Depression feels a bit like that. I would often wake up in the morning, mired in the pit of despair. My arms felt loose and heavily hung from my body. Everything felt flat. What I should enjoy, what I enjoyed in the past, I did not. I had, as Tom Hanks said in Joe vs. the Volcano, a brain cloud.
At the deepest point, when my family started to wonder what the heck was wrong with me; when my husband became profoundly affected by my sadness, I finally was able to drag myself to the doctor and start cleaning up this emotional mess. I’m being treated, as they say, and taking care of myself, as well.Â I hope by sharing this I will maybe nudge some other stubborn “everything’s fine on the surface” person like me, who’s really suffering on the inside, to get the guts and the energy to make a call and keep the appointment, to find out what’s wrong and start taking steps to recovering. I’m happy to report that I am already feeling remarkably better and fully expect that trend to continue. Tonight, at dinner, I laughed so much my cheeks hurt. I hadn’t done that in a long, long time.
There was a moment during some of the darkest days that shined like a star. The boy told me his friend, the allergist’s daughterÂ had discovered this blog and read it in its entirety. He told me she was disappointed I was taking a break, and was looking forward to my break ending, and my next post. She, and all of you, have pulled me back here. I’ve missed you all.