*I rarely write in the middle of a depressive season. It’s too ugly, too brutal, too close to feel like I can convey myself clearly. But this one I wrote in just such a season, a few weeks back. I HAVE managed to fight my way back to a baseline, which is probably why I feel comfortable sharing it now. But this is my reminder to you, that the fight is worth it. The fight feels impossible, ridiculously worthless, and exhausting. Especially in the midst and as the momentum drags you down. But please hold on to the truth that the fight is worth it.
If depression isn’t something you struggle with – let this be a glimpse of what it is like for those of us who do.*
I stand in the kitchen prepping food, and sobbing. I can’t stop crying and yet, I don’t stop working either.
I have been here forever. In the midst of this season of sadness. According to the calendar its been 3.5 weeks, but depression lives in its own time warp. A Newtonian fluid of fast and slow – where you feel as though you have always been this dark, and yet surely it hasn’t already been more than three weeks since you first began to cry at the sight random daffodil blooms.
The tears stream off my nose and cheeks, and I take a shuddering breath. I briefly consider just sliding onto the floor and sitting until I stop crying, but don’t feel like there is time for that level of drama.
My husband walks in and asks me what is wrong. I tell him, “nothing”.
Nothing that wasn’t wrong yesterday and the day before and the day before that.
Nothing but the fact that this world feels like all hard edges, sharp angles, and exhaustion.
Nothing except that I’m stupidly fragile, and angry at that fragility, and desperate for a reprieve from the brokenness.
I try to remember what triggered this episode. A small argument with my husband, followed closely by the anniversary of the pandemic which leaves me reeling. I try to pull myself out of it, only to be caught by a challenging season with one of my children, where I can’t solve or fix or ease the things she must fight through. An academic disappointment for another child where again, I cannot straighten the path in front of her. A week of a sick dog – leaving us with disrupted sleep and unplanned vet bills, and the need for a new carpet cleaner. It is not so much a trigger – as one hit after another after another. Some small, some brutal, and all pushing me further and further into the darkness.
I long for the comfort of a soft place and kindness. I want to fall asleep easily and wake to something resembling joy. I’m not made for hard things I decide; I crave peaceful breaths by the river, and blue skies with laughter – but I cannot find them. And this life feels like all hard things – parenting and marriage and traffic and schedules and bills. My to-do list seems to never be complete; my ragged pace and broken heart grind through each day, almost in a fog.
My husband, recognizing my spiral, asks me to remember to fight. To fight. I laugh harshly at his naivete.
He means I should call my therapist or my nutritionist; I should schedule time to see a friend or to work out.
But those fights seem foolish right now.
Why must I keep fighting for things that feel like they aren’t worth fighting for? If I do all those things and fight my way back from the brink of this darkness, life will only come back to throw me down again. I have seen it, time and time and time again. It is a never-ending battle and I can’t muster the energy to fight one I know I will eventually lose. I am pushing a boulder up a mountain, a boulder that outweighs me exponentially.
Reality dictates that I will fail and be crushed.
This is the momentum of depression.
The small slide that tips into a vertical plunge where I find myself free falling into a darkness that feels impossible to stop.
If I had found my way at the beginning of the slide: a foothold, a hand to grab, a something, that would have stopped me – this would have been just a dip, a stumble, a day or two of feeling wobbly.
Instead, I reach out and grasp nothing, I careen towards the bottom knowing full well I will have to fight my way back towards the sun. Knowing full well I don’t have the energy. Knowing full well I will repeat this journey again and again.
And so I put it off, that fight. It doesn’t feel worth it. I don’t feel worth it. In the midst and momentum of the depression, I just cannot find the fight.
**Eventually, something turns. A night of good sleep, the sunlight creeping through, a weekend of breathing easy, small victories. The fight is still hard, but feels like less of a Goliath. The momentum builds there too; building to a smile to a laugh to whispers of happiness. I find myself reaching out to friends again and letting myself believe in possibilities. And it breaks, finally, and the darkness gives way.**