Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Truth About Depression

A lot of people say they're depressed. But they're not.

In a couple of months it'll be two years since I had my Little Breakdown on the Highway...and it wasn't the car that broke down. Next January or so (who remembers these things???) it's two years that I sat down with my doctor and told him about the paralyzing chest pains that I'd been trying to hide from everybody around me, and he gently asked me a list of questions, and my face shook as I answered, slowly, reluctantly, yes, to all of them.

I didn't want to be depressed and I didn't want to have a panic disorder. I wanted to keep crushing it down so that I could get on with my life. It had worked pretty good for...how long? Months? Years? I guess it was years.

When you're a mother, and the father of your hatchlings is gone for 18 hours each day and often weekends as well, and always has, since before you married him, and you agreed to this, that he has the potentially great career, that he's so good at what he does, and that you left college after a year, and that you would rather live cheap on one income than pay somebody else to care for your kids so that you don't have to take some poorly paying job that barely covers the sitter and the gas in the tank to get to work, but it doesn't matter because his one income is not very high and buying groceries is difficult, and your precious old car is having trouble, so you park it, and you walk, which is okay because you live in town, and as much as you long for the country you know that at least this way you can walk to the grocery store, but so often you wish that if he was gone all the time you could at least pay somebody to mow the lawn because the kids aren't big enough to leave them while you go out and do it yourself, and besides, somebody's always crying, and you love that big man, you really do, and it's a tragedy that he's always gone because you like each other so much that you'd love to have him around, while you look at other couples who merely tolerate each other and spend every damn boring evening in front of the same TV, barking at the same kids, sleeping in the same bed, and you're jealous because they don't know what they've got, and there you are with too many people and too many cars and too many other houses, and there are some days when you feel like this time you really will run screaming, this time you really will slam that gearshift up into park before the tires have even stopped rolling, and leave those precious children strapped into the car while you run, where, anywhere, anywhere but here, and there are days when you feel like you have the best life in the world because they are the best children in the world, and this is a love that you couldn't have predicted, and you can't understand why, if you love them so much, why some days you just sit on the couch and stare at the wall while they chatter away into unhearing space, and you squeeze the horrible thoughts out of your head, and try not to question if anybody else ever feels this way, and your husband doesn't notice because his mum was nuts, and he wouldn't know the look of a woman falling apart but it doesn't matter because you'll hide it, you'll hide it from your own mother, and when you're out for the afternoon you can smile, you can laugh, and you know you're not really faking it, because you can still feel good, you can still have fun, but when it's over you can't stand being in the bright lights and the laughter so you retreat and your skin burns with every touch and you close your eyes and you're eight again, walking down the bush lane, past the sagging fence with the long grass brushing your legs, and you open your eyes and nothing has changed and that's why you will keep crushing it down as long as it takes...

Would anybody break down? Maybe. Who knows?

We started putting it together, looking back over the years. There were patterns. I'd go into this deep pit every few years. If I looked back far enough, I could trace it back to age 12, when I started asking disturbing questions about death. I talked about things that kids that age couldn't have a grasp of. I was still a little girl in jeans with my hair in two braids, but the dark side was coming out already.

I've learned a few things.

This may be something I'll always have to deal with. I can't hate it; I have to just accept it and work with it and not let it destroy me. I have to understand that it's not forever and that every day I change.

I can't be ashamed of it. I can't keep trying to hide it.

I'm not the only one. Not by far. I don't know if we always had this, or if it's rampant in an unnatural modern world, but a shocking amount of us are suffering.

And, some people are just a bunch of whiners. I don't have to listen to them. I don't have to start up a contest to see who's legitimately depressed and who's just complaining.

I'm feeling much better now. I don't feel perfect. I don't think anybody does. But slowly, over the span of months and years, I feel more like myself. That's different, because Myself has changed. Every day I'm more okay with it.


Timmy said...

because Myself has changed. Every day I'm more okay with it.

so true! I can relate totally!

Lurve ya!

mackeydoodle said...

You are not alone Chick. I can trace my anxiety attacks & depression back to when I was 10 years old. My "defining moment" aka my breakdown came in 1995, 6 months after giving birth to my beautiful son.
Thanks to meds, selp help groups & the understanding of the worlds most wonderful husband I am doing quite well today.I don't know if I feel "normal" but then who the hell does!:) Normal isn't normal:D
Depression & anxiety can affect anyone. My hubby had his first anxiety attack 6 weeks ago & he thought he was having a heart attack.Now it is my turn to be here for him.
It has been nice getting to know you HickChick. I knew you were a cool person, after all, you are Canadian!!!

Life, or Something Like It said...

Where do I start? You really did hide it well. I sometimes wonder why I didn't see it...Was it because I seldom SEE you? Too wrapped up in myself? I dunno...
What a relief that we understand each other! Nobody seems to understand WHY I can't get on a bus alone, why I can't do the dishes some days, and other days I do EVERYTHING including repainting the living room...It really doesn't make sense....
You have come sooo far, Heidi. I think that Jethro's Mum may have helped the situation...he loves you unconditionally, the same way that his Dad loves his Mum...Besides, to know youis to love you, whichever YOU you are!

Redneck Nerdboy! said...

That was quite possibly the longest run-on sentence I have ever read that made a lot of sense the way it was! Haha! I'm impressed!

I often wonder what depression is, and you have answered it admirably. And yet, for all you said, all you felt and all you tried to teach, I still don't quite understand it fully at all.

And people like me who don't know depression never will. I think that's why most of us have a hard time with patience when it comes to folks who suffer from depression, is because there is no way we will ever truly understand how awfully debilitating it can be and how much it can really slow your life to a crawl.

For that I'm sorry, and you're in my prayers, honey.


dilling said...

Whew...thank you...

Nölff said...

I've found out that alcohol helps my depression. Also, that was a long sentence. That's a lot of shit to deal with.

The Adult in Question said...

I have always loved you the way you are.

Heidi the Hick said...

Timmy- lurve ya too!

mackey- What a relief- even though I'm so sorry to hear that you've struggled for so long, I'm glad I'm not the only one. I don't think we're alone- childbirth does weird and wonderful things to us. And no, there is no normal! It's different for all of us! I'm so glad you're doing well and I know you'll take good care of your husband. Please give him my best wishes.

Biddie- You didn't see it for all of those reasons and more. Sometimes we get really good at hiding stuff. Sadly I never questioned why you had ups and downs- it kind of made sense to me. Like how Jethro didn't notice. As for his parents, you've got a very good point...he's crazy about her. She's crazy. If it works for them it should work for us!

Heidi the Hick said...

And Biddie- don't forget, I hid it from my mother too. And I see her at least once a month.

Jas-It's very honest of you to admit that you don't understand it. It's really irritating when people say they know and then tell me about something completely not like it at all. You know what Jas? I'm GLAD you can't understand it! I wouldn't wish it on anybody!!!! Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Dilling- I hope that was cathartic...I kinda felt better after I exorcised that paragraph!

Nolff- Believe me, I really wanted to try beer therapy but everyone else howled about that. I'm going to write about THAT tomorrow!!!!

Yep, that was a lot to deal with but I don't think my life is more difficult that anybody else's. We all got our own bag of hammers to haul around with us.

KC- thank you. (sniffle)

Notsocranky Yankee said...

I like the big sentence. I never felt like it needed any punctuation, just a really really long thought.

I'm glad you are doing better now and I hope this blogging helps too. You have a lot of new friends out here cheering you on.

Now get back to your homework!

Heidi the Hick said...

Yankee- belileve it or not, I'm ahead with the homework this week!!!!

I'm glad you liked the big sentence because sometimes I feel like that!

Blogging has been so helpful. I cna't believe how much all these blog buddies have influenced me positively! I can hear the cheering! Yay!

jen said...

I'm not even sure how I stumbled my way to your site but you can now consider me a daily reader.

Thanks for being.


Balloon Pirate said...

You inspire me.

And you're not alone.

Thanks for sharing.


Heidi the Hick said...

Jen- what a compliment...thanks!

Pirate- I don't feel alone. You're welcome. And thank YOU.

Tod said...

I know that feeling of wanting to run away from something. Some years back I was in a stressful situation at work and it built and built until I was getting chest pains and panic attacks and became unable to function. Luckily it was just work I wanted to run from and not my life.

I don't know a thing about depression but reading your story about being at home all day with the kids I was thinking, "She also needs an outlet for all that creative energy that is obviously bursting to come out." You can't just be a mother and wife, you have to be you too.

Sorry that last bit sounds cheesy when I re-read it but it's not meant to.

Heidi the Hick said...

Tod- not cheesy at all! True! One of the problems with my early mothering life was that there was no time to shower, let alone write. I have to write. And I didn't see my horse enough. There was no balance!

And I think I have some kind of chemical imbalance thing.

It's all gonna get better.

melanie said...

I have clinical depression. Its very very mild. but i know when i am down.I am in an upswing right now, but my drug of choice is food. and its killing me. I took anti-depressants for a while, and they helped but the side effects were not good. and i changed drugs a few times too.

sighs. Why dont i find a holistic approach to rememdy the problem? who knows. but i have to and soon. Thankfully i dont have panic attacks. I just shut down. completely... and dont move.

Hoping all the best for you. sounds like you are moving in the right direction.