My depression comes in waves.
It’s always there in the background, trickling into the cracks of daily life, but it’s mostly managed.
*cough* Diverted. Ignored. *cough*
36 years of a well-practiced and fine-tuned inner monologue keeps it reasonably contained. But still, it’s a constant back and forth between the two halves of me that like to argue with each other.
“You know you’re fucking this up, right? They’d be better off without you. You should get in the car and just go. Who knows why they even put up with your shit.”
“No. It’s fine! You’re fine. Your boys love you. But, maybe yeah…you could do a little better. It’s ok. We! Can! Fix! This! Make waffles for breakfast! Clean something! Pay attention when they are talking about LEGO inventions! Yes, even if it’s the 17th invention that they want to discuss in exhaustive detail! Do one of those science experiments that they love but don’t really learn anything from! Perhaps you could look like you’ve recently showered before your husband gets home! *Prove* you’re worthy of this life. Annnnd go!”
And then I can hide behind all the “evidence” that everything is fine. Surely a person can’t be depressed when there are waffles! Can’t be depressed when all the laundry is done! Can’t be depressed when there is a big smile on your face as you’re surrounded by your loving children of above average intelligence and good-looking husband! Can’t be depressed when your life is so interesting! So fun! So wonderful! Can’t be depressed when you are on top of everything and you’re not even breaking a sweat!
Well…yes and no. This works for a while. It keeps all the people around me from prodding too deeply. Everything looks right on the surface. I can pass as socially acceptable, almost normal even! (If you know me in real life and this is absurd, because Dana = normal is not a thing, do me a solid and don’t tell me. K? Thanks. *fist bump*) (Real life Dana would never fist bump.)
But then, as it always does, all those cracks can only hold so much before it starts to spill over. Then the trickle turns into a stream of me being moody and short-tempered and uninterested in all the things I love most. The stream turns into a wave….a wave that’s got to crash down at some point. It’s almost comically predictable at this point. I can see that all the things are lining up, but I can never seem to save myself in time from the impending misery. The only thing I can do is brace myself for it, and hope to not be underwater for long.
The most recent crash was 4 days ago, but the water has been slowly rising for more than a month. My personality is Type A *cough* control freak *cough* enough for me to be a functional drowning person. I have to chuckle at the ridiculousness of this image…me walking around in some sort of fucked up diving helmet that keeps filling up with water, while still making 3 kinds of sandwiches for lunch, tying all the shoes, and wiping all the backsides. I’ll just ignore the rising panic and keep dragging breath against the odd weight that settles across my chest. I’m fine! Everything is great!
“Everyone fed, nobody dead” becomes our fallback standard. (But, hello, the perfectionist here is still offering 3 types of sandwiches to fulfill that “everyone fed” half while gasping for air because I’m a glutton who can’t help herself.) (This is also why I don’t worry too much about being a suicide risk…there is simply too much shit that I need to get done that I just *know* will be done incorrectly if I’m not there to do it.) (And just in case there is an afterlife, I certainly don’t want to be eternally annoyed. #priorities)
I’ll keep going until I just can’t anymore and the depression manifests physically. As mysterious body aches and pains. As exhaustion that can only be relieved by curling up into a ball and passing out for a few hours*. As illness. It’s only after I’m forced to stop that I can finally reset myself and give into the misery. I can have a sobfest and let all the ugly wash over me. I can feel hopelessly sad as the volume of the “Dana Sucks” cheering squad gets cranked to eleven. I can splash about in the worst parts of me until I’m so annoyed and frustrated with myself that it turns into resolve.
Get it together.
Make the waffles. Do the things. Prove myself worthy of this life. Know that this will happen again. Pretend that I’ll be stronger/wiser/braver next time.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat. **
* I could lay in my own puddle for days, but I feel so insanely guilty when Jake has to fill in and pick up my slack that the thought of it eventually compels me back to the land of the living, ready or not. (Also, I’m horrified by the way he loads the dishwasher. The last thing I need is an anxiety attack over which direction the forks are pointing ***, y’all.)
** Yes, I’m fine. Really. I’m on the upswing of this. The worst is over. The house is getting the “everything went to shit, so now I need to scrub the baseboards to atone for my inadequacies” treatment. The flood waters have receded and we’re getting back to business as usual, but talking about this was one little piece of business that I needed to take care of before I called this round won and done.
I’ve been going back and forth for the last few days…do I say something about this? Or do I just act like it never happened?
It felt disingenuous to keep marching forward like everything is grand all the time. It felt like a misrepresentation of what our life is really like when I’m trying to share the whole journey here, not just the fun bus projects, the super cute kids, and the ridiculously handsome man I’m lucky enough to call mine. Plus, this is just one battle won…not the entire war. This is something I’ve dealt with my entire life and I don’t see it magically going away anytime soon (yes, I have tried all the things), so why pretend it doesn’t exist?
Because it does, so here it is.
*** Handles up is the correct answer.
In case I did a completely terrible job talking about depression, here’s someone who has done it so much better than me. Enjoy.