I See You. I Feel You.

I woke up this morning, as I have many mornings the last few months, lacking a sense of purpose. Depression does that. It anesthetizes even my most simple of intentions, and I struggle to remember that sunlight makes me happy, if only I would look outside and see it.

It’s been 13 years since I’ve felt this way. Twenty five years since the first time. It’s nothingness and futility, acute dread, and the stinging pain of powerlessness that turns every motion into an Herculean effort, both emotionally and physically. Who knew getting out of a chair could require such debate?
But unlike 13 years ago, I won’t put a down payment on a handgun. I won’t stare into the river and call myself Jezebel. I won’t hide under the sheets with someone who doesn’t love me or numb the numbness with a bottle of tequila.
This time, I’ve packed a more useful toolbox to work through this depression. Notice I didn’t use the words “solve” or “cure.” Solving depression is like grabbing air. Depression is in my DNA, so it will likely return some day. I want to give its reincarnations a fighting chance at being less difficult and shorter in duration, so this time, I’m allowing the feelings in rather than trying to keep them outside. Just like the smell of skunk spray, sadness and worthlessness will find their way inside. Better to keep the windows and doors open to allow fresh air to move about and neutralize the odor.
One of the tools I’ve adopted is reading positive books and reading weight-loss/maintenance blogs (many of which are written by those of you reading my own blog. I’m out there lurking, just not always commenting), and blogs that deal with everyday, real life issues. I read other people’s words for a sense of solidarity, as well as to learn how others cope with their own struggles.
There are two books I’m reading simultaneously. The first is “The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits ofLeading a Compassionate Life” by Piero Ferrucci.
Ferrucci asserts that kindness is a “universal remedy – first for the individual, for we can be well only if we are able to care for ourselves, to love ourselves.” Being kind to ourselves means being honest with ourselves, to recognize a problem rather than to pretend there is none. To illustrate, he tells the story of his son, Emilio, who was going back to school after vacation.
“He did not like the idea at all and was filled with anxiety. To him, the approach of school days was like a monster that threatened him and wanted to squash him.”
As his parent, Ferrucci would do anything to ease his son’s fears, so he decided to give his son something that was considered taboo in his family: French fries from a fast-food restaurant.
“Usually anything that is prohibited appeals to Emilio, especially junk food. I thought I had the ace up my sleeve. But  no. Emilio’s reply ought to be chiseled in stone: ‘Dad, you don’t solve problems with French fries.’
“Touche. You don’t pretend problems do not exist, and you can’t solve them with ephemeral distractions. You have to face them with open-eyed honesty.”
My depression won’t go away by ignoring it. Only by saying, “I see you and I feel you” can I begin to dismantle the barbed wire fence that threatens to bloody my life.
One of the blogs I read is Brene Brown’s “Ordinary Courage.” I took Brown’s advice and bought Richie Norton‘s book The Power of Starting Something Stupid. I bought it because of a quote she included in her review, one that took her breath away:
“People wait. They wait for the elusive day when they’ll finally have enough time (guess what? – you never will), enough education (there’s always more to know), enough money (no matter how much you make, someone will always have more)…People wait until that fateful day when they wake up and realize that while they were sitting around paying dues, earning their keep, waiting for that elusive ‘perfect time’ their entire life has passed them by.”
Reading that last line, I realized that for the last few months, I’ve been sitting around waiting for depression to leave me, like it’s a houseguest who understands that her boarding pass must be used by a certain date. No, I realized, I have to be the one to kick out the houseguest, to tell her it’s time to go home now. Here, let me do your laundry, help you pack, and drive you to the airport.
Only by engaging my depression can I learn what motivates it, what feeds it. This is my depression and I am only speaking to my issues. I know depression affects individuals in many different ways and often requires medical and pharmaceutical interventions. I do not rule those tools out, but for now, therapy, reading, meditating, and crying (yes, it can be a therapeutic tool, even if it’s an all-day cry) are making a small hole in that barbed wire fence. Someday I will pass through and I will once again intuit that sunshine makes me smile.

17 thoughts on “I See You. I Feel You.

  1. Depression is tough.
    And sometimes creeps up on you out of nowhere.

    It can have a clear reason for rearing its ugly ugly head, or it can appear without just cause.

    From what I have read, you are a strong woman, and you are in control of your life. You have the tools in hand, and are taking the necessary steps.

    From one to another… I see you, I feel you.

    Be well.


  2. It's hard for me to respond to this without writing a book, but let's just say, I do understand. I will struggle forever with the pain of Rheumatoid Disease and the fight with my weight and yes, at times, I've have fallen into bouts of depression knowing that neither of these things will change or go away. And that the RA will eventually rob me of the ability to do the things I most love. But you are so right. The most important thing is to work THROUGH it and FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT rather than give into it and wallow. I've done plenty of that as well. There's nothing I can say to make it better except to say I am your friend and I understand.

  3. You are not alone. So many of us have felt it, too. I am sorry you're having darkness right now but remember the light. It's there, you will stand in it again.


  4. Sorry. I know it is hard.

    If I can do one positive, moving forward thing, speaking for myself, it turns things around for me each day. Each day could go either way if I let it. A simplistic answer, for me only.

    You did a very good job with this post. Glad to hear from you, even if it is a tough time.

  5. I am so sorry for you, but I don't think you are looking for sympathy.

    I don't know you directly, but I know you have so much to offer the world, and deserve so much better than the way things feel right now.

    Your paragraph from Brene Brown reminds me of the phrase “There is no there, there.” But I think that knowing that is ultimately a good thing.

    I keep you in my thoughts…….for brighter days, soon.

    P.S. That anonymous (above) is a real sweetheart

  6. I am a kindred spirit. At age 52, I have experienced three diagnosed depressions and have spent my adult life figuring out how to navigate this territory. It's so hard to grasp the dichotomy between the intellectual knowledge and emotional feelings that occurs. I don't know if you have considered medication but it's the only way I've been able to stabilize and stay grounded. I wish for you peace of mind and that you soon wake up to a day when you are happy just because the sun is shining. That's usually my sign when I'm feeling better….happy just because. Fondly, Deb

  7. Very heartfelt post, Lynn. I'm sorry that these are dark days for you, and I understand. I want to thank you for sharing such honest insight with all of us, because I think that this condition afflicts so many of us who also struggle with weight.

    Be kind to yourself and connect with the world as much as you can, especially those beautiful kids and grandkids! When I was a child, my dad used to tell me that there would be better days ahead. That's my wish for you.

  8. Well, I subscribe to your blog in my reader, and I'm going to “unlurk” to tell you how much I appreciate reading your blog.

    Once again I think this is honest and beautifully written, and I connect with your words as someone who has also wrestled with “mood maintenance” as well as weight maintenance. Sending you my best wishes for the journey to the place where sunshine can be experienced with joy to go quickly, and that the path to get there is safe, has supportive helpers, and brings worthwhile lessons.

  9. Lynne, this post is very open and honest, I thank you for sharing your experience with us.

    I've had experience with depression over the years, and feel the best thing is to share it openly.

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