I've been rather depressed lately. Well, I was reasonably happy, if a bit busy, for a couple of weeks right around Christmas, but I've spent the better part of the past month feeling very down. Maybe you can tell from the content of my posts. Hating everyone (lawyers, motorcycle cops), ranting about trivial annoyances (parking lot jerks, annoying attorneys), and basically ignoring my blog in between.
It's easy to say, hey just suck it up, get over it, adjust your attitude, be happy.... But as Kim Ayres over at Ramblings of the Bearded One pointed out in a couple of recent blog posts (here and here) it's not that easy.
Part of the problem, for me anyway, is that when you are depressed, you literally can't do anything. Some days, it's nearly impossible even to get out of bed in the morning. So, many of the "self-help" things that you could theoretically do to help yourself feel better - things that might help people who are feeling sad, but not truly depressed - simply can't happen. People will say, "take this supplement," or "get some exercise" or "eat better foods," or "go to the doctor," or "get a prescription for Prozac" and it will help you feel happier. They might be right, I really don't know. I know only that the effort required to get to the store and buy the recommended supplement, or to go out and exercise, or to buy and prepare the recommended foods, or to make and keep a doctor appointment, is beyond what I can imagine accomplishing most days.
I have, so far, managed to hold it together enough to get my kids to school on time (and with lunches made), supervise their homework, take them to their activities, and even to plan and do fun things with them. I've managed to meet my work deadlines (mostly - except for those papers I still have to grade, which were due this week but will not be done until Monday). I've managed to keep the kitchen clean so we can all eat without contracting some dread disease from spoiled food. I've managed to keep up with the laundry enough that the kids and I can get dressed each morning, if we're so inclined (some days, I'm not).
But it's as if those things take every ounce of energy, and then when the kids and husband are gone and the deadlines have been met, there is no energy for anything else. I find myself lying in bed staring at the ceiling, sometimes crying.
My house is a wreck and I'm just not motivated to do anything about it. And I haven't managed to put together the client billing, or do the filing, or install the new printer I got, or any number of other tasks that require energy but don't have a "do it now or else" type of deadline.
And so I lie in bed and feel sorry for myself. And then I berate myself for being lazy. And then I drag myself to the kitchen for another cup of coffee, hoping that will give me some energy. And it doesn't and then I hate myself even more and I feel exhausted and I go back to bed.
And I get really scared. I don't want to be one of those people who truly slips into a huge depression and truly can't get out of bed for days at a time, who completely abdicates her responsibility to her family, work, and friends.
I don't mean to be a whiner. I don't even know what I hope to accomplish by posting this. But when I read Kim's post, it struck a chord. He talked about how people just don't understand. They offer sympathy and suggestions in a misguided attempt to help you "adjust your attitude" and "feel better," but it just doesn't work because it's not about your attitude or your desire to be happy; it's a physical inability to "feel better."
I haven't wanted to admit to anyone how depressed I am. It seems like a moral failing, or like mere laziness (thus, the self-hate, and being annoyed with myself...), but it's not that at all.
I am lazy sometimes. I know when I am lazy: I wilfully choose not to do something that needs to be done because I just plain don't want to. And then later I work frantically hard and get everything done anyway, cursing myself all along for being too lazy to get it done ahead of time. Most of the time I am not lazy. I do, and accomplish, a lot of things in my life.
But this is different. It is a physical and mental inability to do anything. I will lie in bed and truly want to get up and do some research that needs to be done, or sweep and mop the house, or call my grandmother, or write a blog post, or shop for new shoes, or any of a thousand other things that both need to be done and sound like something I would, normally, want to do. I will lie there and think about how wonderful it would be if I could just get out of bed and do these things I want to do. But somehow I just can't. It's not, "I should but I don't want to." It's "I want to, but I just can't drag myself out of this swamp of inertia and fog of sadness; I have to cry some more, first."
I hate this. I want it to stop.
I'm finally feeling a little better this week. Maybe now I'll at least have enough energy to try some of those helpful remedies people are always suggesting. And now that the fog and swamp have receded enough that I can move more freely, maybe, just maybe, some of those ideas will actually help me feel better.
Thanks for listening.
If you know anyone who seems depressed, please do try to have more understanding (not "pity," not "sympathy," just understanding) for them. It's not a conscious choice to be withdrawn and unresponsive or irresponsible. If they could "snap out of it," they would. No one wants to feel, or be, this way.
I'm not sure what you should do with this new understanding. It doesn't lead to any advice for how to help the person. But it might at least help some people be more willing to admit they have a depression problem if there were more understanding and less judging going on in the world.