After feeling a lot better for a while, I’ve spent the past couple of weeks sliding back into depression.
I knew, even when I was feeling well, that this would probably happen. It’s been many years since I’ve been depression-free for more than a few weeks at a time, so there was no reason to think that bleak, hopeless pain wouldn’t be back. I even told E, “It’s okay. I don’t like it, but I can accept it.”
So much easier to say when you are on the “up” side of “up and down.”
Now that I’m on the “down” side, I’m finding acceptance a lot harder. I still believe, in my head, that it’s the right approach. I still believe that struggling against my emotional experience just makes it settle in longer (“what we resist persists”). But my god, it’s hard to accept the tossing and turning at night, the unwanted thoughts (I’m nothing, I don’t even deserve my life, I’m just shit…), the lack of energy, the inability to get things done.
I feel so alone with it, too. I don’t want to say anything about it to friends, or to my sisters. I worry that I’m burdening them, that they are sick of it. Really? Hasn’t she been going to therapy forever? I thought she was doing better? No one stays depressed this long unless they don’t WANT to get better… Not to mention that my sister is busy with my niece’s illness, and my family is kind of occupied with worrying about her and helping where they can.
I go to therapy these days and don’t know what to do with my time. E has helped me a lot over the years. She’s given me great tools and incredible support. And still, here I am, the roaches of hell nibbling at the corners of my brain. “I feel like I’m letting you down,” I told her last week.
“You aren’t,” she assured me. “But it is hard to see you like this. I feel kind of impotent. I’d like to hand you something to make you feel better.”
“If you handed me the cure now,” I answered, “I’d be a combination of relieved and angry: why have you been holding out on me? Only now, after all these years, you tell me the secret to overcoming depression?”
We laughed about that, but the situation isn’t funny. It’s sad and frustrating.
I cancelled my appointment with her for this coming Monday because I’m not making doing anything productive with our time together, just sitting there in her office and feeling crummy. It’s not a good use of her time. It’s not a good use of my insurance company’s money.
What does it mean to accept this recurrent depression? I think I’m supposed to say something like this: Hello, Depression; it’s you again. I know you! You come and whisper a lot of mean things in my ear. I know, at one level, that some of what you say is a lie, but it’s hard to hear all that stuff over and over. You make me dizzy with all the images of harming myself, even killing myself. I don’t understand what you want. I don’t know why you are doing this. But pull up a chair, because you are a part of me, and E says to make all the parts welcome.
Long, slow breath. It’s okay; it’s all going to be okay.
CREDIT: Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash