Depression: It’s sneaky

Sometimes I forget. I can go weeks or even months without experiencing a hint of depression. During those periods I sometimes allow myself to believe that it’s gone for good and that I’m “normal” again, whatever that means.

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And then something happens – some magical thing – and the craziness starts again. Black is white and white is black. Nothing makes sense to me even though I somehow sense, somewhere deep inside that is still in touch with reality, that it’s not external things that don’t make sense but rather my own thoughts that have slipped their moorings. Now is one of those times.

It started when I encountered a friend who is struggling with depression issues of his own, although¬†I didn’t feel the beginnings of my own response until later. I listened to his delusional ramblings for hours, deflecting and debunking his misconceptions, outright challenging him when he was making statements about his life being worthless and over (he’s 21 years old), and crying with him as he talked about not having anywhere else to go or anything left to do. I told him that I would get the number for the County Mental Health Services crisis hotline and that he wouldn’t be alone.

As I drove home that night, I could feel my mood changing and all of my energy to do anything leaving my body. When my beautiful daughter and wonderful husband wanted to talk to me later that evening, I begged off citing the fact that I was “tired” – that’s my standard excuse, even to myself, for times when I can’t muster the energy to keep up appearances of normalcy.

Monday was Memorial Day and I participated in a remembrance ceremony with the husband and the daughter, standing dutifully at attention throughout and making small talk with acquaintances there and later at the post-ceremony reception that followed. Once the official part of the day was over and we were in private again, the darkness and fog descended, and I only wanted to curl up in a ball and be left alone.

Thank goodness I have a husband who understands the craziness and whom I trust so completely that I can see myself through his eyes and recognize what’s happening. That’s what happened on Monday night: Mick was being his usual helpful self, making dinner on the grill, and I suddenly just flipped out. I wanted to go out, we hadn’t explicitly talked about eating in, and I went from a zombie to straight up angry in about 2.5 seconds. I could see the confusion on his face, heard him asking me what was up and not taking “nothing” for an answer, and – after about 20 minutes – I realized what had happened. I apologized, I cried a little, then I went to him, buried my face in his chest, and told him I was sorry. He didn’t have to ask why I was¬†sorry because he already knew what was going on.

Ever since that moment on Monday night, the darkness has been slowly receding. I wish it was something I could just decide to stop and then it would go away, but it’s not, at least not for me. Once I can see it and name it, though, I know that it’s on its way out of my head, and that makes life easier even as I still deal with its lingering effects.

What I’ve learned in the last year that I didn’t know before is how important it is to check in with reality, to find something that I know with 100% certainty is real and then hold on to it until the craziness starts to subside. For me on Sunday, that thing was my husband and I am so grateful – and lucky – to have him in my life.

If you, like me, suffer from depression, know that there’s help and you are never, ever as alone as you feel. There are caring people in your area – trained professionals – who are just waiting for your call. You can find their number in the front of your phone book (if you still have that object in your home) or by performing an Internet search for “mental health resources, county of xxx” where “xxx” should be replaced with the county where you live. Don’t suffer even a minute longer by yourself – help is out there and you’re worth it!