Deep experience is never peaceful. —- Henry James
I’m doing most of what I’m supposed to be doing…getting enough sleep (probably too much), taking my meds, seeing the therapist, eating so-so, being somewhat social. I just feel blah. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to do anything outside of going to work. I’m not particularly fatigued, I’m just very unmotivated and I don’t care.
My depression seemed to worsen when my son left for college. He hasn’t gone that far, just downtown to the urban art school campus, about 30 miles away. I still get to see him once in a while and we talk/text regularly. But living alone has been a huge change for me. I don’t seem to be adjusting very well at all. I’ve been lettting the cleaning go, avoiding the kitchen as much as possible, and spending a lot of time vegging. This is so not like me. I’m typically a very tidy person, like to cook, and like to be productive. I feel so out of sorts.
I had great plans for cleaning up the house when my son left. Having him and his friends tramping in and out tending to make for more cleaning up, and I thought of it as this great opportunity to really get things clean. I haven’t even been up to his room except to go to the attic and retrieve a few things. It just seems too overwhelming.
I guess this is what they call empty nest syndrome. I never imagined it could be such a setback in my mood. I’m sure I could be getting more exercise and all of that good stuff, but now I don’t see anything shifting me out of the numb spot. And it’s not very comfortable here either.
Don’t look forward to the day you stop suffering, because when it comes you’ll know you’re dead. — Tennessee Williams
To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering. — Fredrich Nietzche
I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable. — Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. — Kahlil Gibran
An excerpt from The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart by Daphne Rose Kingma
We live in a culture that is afraid of grieving; we don’t know how to cry. When our lives fall apart in one way or another, we usually try to take control of things and solve them, forget them, or deny them—rather than experience them, accept them, or see the meaning they may hold for us. That’s because underlying many of our responses to difficulty is the unstated assumption that we should be able to engage in life, liberty, and the unbridled pursuit of happiness without ever having to grieve—over anything. It’s almost as if we believe that pain, suffering, and challenge are bad and should never be a part of our path.
The truth is that pain is one of our greatest teachers, hurt can be a birth, and our sufferings are the portals to change. This being true, we need to know how to grieve, to mourn, to shed our tears, because grief is the cure for the pain of loss. Tears are the medicine of grieving.
When life is hard, when you’re in crisis, you should cry not because you’re weak but because crying holds the power of healing. Tears, in fact, are the vehicle for transformation. When you cry, your loss moves through you to the point of exit. What was holding you up and eating you up, what was stuck inside your body, gets released and moves outside your body. Your physical structure is quite literally cleansed and, like a blackboard sponged clean, is available to receive the imprint of whatever comes next.
It has been clinically demonstrated that when you suppress sadness you also suppress positive emotions. What we don’t feel on one end of the emotional spectrum, we don’t feel on the other. As a consequence, people who try to be happy all the time, who suppress what they perceive to be the “negative” emotions of sorrow and grief, actually, over time, become more anxious and depressed. Crying is not a sign of weakness; we shouldn’t staunch our tears. They’re a healing balm, a river to the future.
Serial monogomy…what do I have to show for it??? Well, the marriage produced my son, but besides that, I have plenty of broken dreams and missed opportunities. And here I am at another breaking apart. Were we ever really joined? That is the million-dollar pick the right suitcase/door/strategy question. I think he was always holding back, and such a troubled soul to begin with, I could never love him enough to fix all the hurt and resentment and anger he carried around inside him. Maybe others knew that already, but I wanted to try so hard to make things good, to make things right for both of us. Two broken people, not the thing on which to try to build a happy relationship. So the past seven years have been a raucous emotional rollercoaster at a nightmare themepark. Oh, there were certainly good times. But not enough to sustain. The ugliness of the past, just subsumed anything good we had, kept it down like we were struggling in a tar pit.
So, now I am alone. This is something new, I have not been alone, sans relationship as an adult. But I already felt pretty alone in my relationship, so I don’t know that it will be a big difference emotionally. I just wish I didn’t feel like I keep failing. I feel like time is passing me by, and perhaps I will remain alone because no one will want to be with me. That is the scariest thought to ponder, maybe it’s the reason for the great delay in breaking up in the first place.
This is when the Depression creeps in and makes you think negative thoughts like perhaps you are unloveable, or just too difficult to get along with; maybe I’ll just stay in bed a while and consider my options. Chocolate is always a good option, and I do have the loyalty of one obnoxious dog.
I’m spending my Sunday afternoon crocheting by the fireplace and listening to Christmas music. The selections have included a number hymns and songs to celebrate the season. This got me thinking about faith. I don’t think it’s all that unusual for a depressed person to question their faith. Particularly when times are most difficult. Now I know some conservative Christians might say that Depression would be the result of not having enough faith or some character flaw or unconfessed sin. That would be one of many reasons I reject conservatism and its narrow view. However, there are many occasions in the bible of doubt and despair, sometimes going hand in hand. I’m not getting into a theology lesson here, that’s not my area of interest or personal expertise.
At some of the worst times of my Depression, I felt the most alone. Separated from all others, including God. Despair can run that deep, and when there is no hope, that is when drastic measures seem the best solutions. It would be nice to have a simple answer to carry us until the despair resolves, but there are none, not even within the context of belief. Don’t get me wrong, faith helps us hang on…when we are grasping for reasons to keep going and can find no joy in life. But it’s hard not to question why. Why this particular illness? Why does it keep coming back? Why do I have to suffer so?
Of course I know plenty of people suffer from all types of ailments. But this invisible illness…takes its toll, invisibly. People don’t realize and can’t comprehend the emotional pain. I suppose that is also why we need our faith, to know that God understands our darkness and our suffering. We celebrate his son among us as part of that faith.
The holiday season always makes it a challenge to maintain a stable mood. So many messages are pummeling us and we are pulled in too many directions to assess how we actually feel. It’s always a difficult season because I have faced a number of losses during this time of year, so while I am supposed to celebrate my faith and socialize, I also grieve. Much conflict is carried around inside me which is difficult to share. I have shared much on this weblog which has been cathartic for me and hopefully helpful to someone else. I do look forward to celebrating Christmas with family and friends, and perhaps a renewal of faith for the coming year.
Melancholia would still appear to be a far more apt and evocative word for the blacker forms of the disorder, but it was ursurped by a noun with a bland tonality and lacking any magisterial presence, used indifferently to describe an economic decline or a rut in the ground, a true wimp of a word for such a major illness. —-William Styron
For those of us who have suffered this major illness, it is rather difficult to hear others throw around the word depression rather lightly. To hear it used in context of discussing trivial matters such as a bad hair day or missed social opportunity just diminishes those of us who suffer with Depression. It is a serious illness that deserves the same respect as any other medical problem. I’ve co-opted some stuff from another website below.
There are many ways to insult someone with depression, without even trying very hard. These days just snap out of it lacks imagination. The best way is to give some unsolicited advice. Something simple, profound, and potentially life changing.
Here are the some ideas:
“You don’t like feeling that way? So change it!”
“Life isn’t meant to be easy.”
“This is what life is like. Get used to it.”
“Pull yourself together.”
“Who said that life is fair?”
“You just have to get on with things.”
“At least it’s not that bad.”
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”
“You have so many things. What do you have to feel down about?”
“You just need to cheer up.”
“Quit trying to be a martyr.”
“Stop taking all those medicines.”
“I know how you feel. I’ve been depressed for whole days at a time.”
These are my favorites:
“What you need is a good kick up the backside.”
“Go out and buy yourself some clothes. That will pick you up.”
“Are you sure you don’t have a mental problem?”
“How about I cook you a good meal. That will make things better.”
“Have you tried acupuncture?”
“Get a job!”
And the all time best:
“Why don’t you try not being depressed.”
Nothing cuts deeper to someone with depression, than when their serious condition is trivialized by another who doesn’t understand it.
Depression is an illness that can be life-threatening. Everyone should take it seriously and think before they say something that may diminish someone else’s sense of self. Thanks for understanding, and share this with friends and family!
When I’m feeling bad and want to wallow, there is certain music that accompanies that mood. Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morrissette carried me through the dark days of my divorce proceedings. Literally carried at times. Oh, the nineties were a special time in women’s music. Sarah suits the melancholy broken heart, as does Sheryl. Alanis is the one to call on for the days of being not just sad and broken, but definitely that angry edge. Even if she and I have both grown up over the years, We can still belt out “You Oughta Know” in the car together.
When I’m feeling particularly down on myself, Garbage fits the bill nicely. The heavy beat and grinding guitars are good for numbing out, especially to titles like, “I’m Only Happy When it Rains.” In spite of the recommendation to avoid alcohol, I sometimes indulge in a glass of wine or two as well, since I’m already having a bad day. Again, my philosophy is sometimes you just have to wallow for a day or two and get it out of your system and move on.
However, of course there is plenty of music for good days too. But this blog is about depression silly. Please share your favorite melancholy music too.
I’m Only Happy When it Rains by Garbage