Saturday, February 2, 2013

I'm feeling a bit chatty

This. Week.

Don't let the door smack you on the way out. It wasn't a bad week exactly, just one that kicked my ass. I have a post that is five lines short of being published, waiting since Monday to be finished. Seriously? Five lines. But the needs of my week stomped on my blog post and pushed their way ahead in line. It was a bossy week.

There were multiple appointments at the doctor. A big deadline for work. An application due. And two nutty children, as per usual. Now I have a chest cold. Awesome.

This post was going to be a short rant about my week overwhelming me, but just this second it is changing to a post about depression and anxiety. I have both of them and I've been ignoring them for a long time. I'm all of a sudden writing about this today because I'm coming to realize that suffering from depression and too much anxiety is terribly annoying and really gets in the way of my coping with daily and weekly obligations. I don't think everything is filtered through this, but it shows up a lot. Remember when I wrote about yelling? That was my depression getting really loud. When I posted that my cousin called me out on it, gently suggesting that impatience and irritability is a sign of depression. I knew that, but I wasn't paying attention. I was too busy yelling and being irritable.

I almost never talk about my depression, and I certainly don't ever write about it. Another cousin of mine (I have really good ones) asked me months ago if I would write about postpartum depression. I've been sitting on that request for some time now, assuming that I'll write it next week, or maybe the next. But the problem is I never do. I've been dealing with depression and anxiety for ten years but I almost never share it with anyone. I am too much the happy person to be such a drag about feeling sad or overwhelmed or irritable. Because the thing is, I am happy a lot of the time. I'm not faking it when I see you and give you a big hug and tell you that you look beautiful and I'm happy to see. These children of mine? I love them so much my heart actually smiles. And Matt makes me roll my eyes laugh so hard I count myself as one of the luckiest ones. But that doesn't mean that I don't also feel overwhelmed and sometimes a bit lost. The lows of the past two years have been hard to handle some days, and I don't think anyone would be surprised that I've had a hard time managing. Not always a hard time, but often enough.

You see, I don't even talk about it with those close to me. I have a couple of friends who know me well enough to ask, but mostly I keep it under wraps (not the most fabulous way to deal with depression, in case you're wondering). I've just barely talked about it with my family. It's Matt that gets the whole me, who listens to me go on and on and on about my feelings. Poor guy. He's full of so many good strategies to help me feel more in control, but I'm a slow learner. Sorry, Matty, but I come with other benefits, like the ability to bake at a moment's notice, my witty basketball commentary, and that constellation of freckles on my thigh that forms an almost perfect Big Dipper.

Yet I'll post about it on a blog. I'm complicated that way.

I have this pesky quality where I believe somewhere deep down that it is my responsibility to make others happy. I think this might get in the way of my dealing honestly with my inability to keep myself together. As much as I speak honestly about my preferences, I think I bury my needs somewhere under that unyielding desire to be responsible for your feelings. That, and I'm afraid you won't like me, a quality that I must take ownership of if I'm going to get anywhere. I care too much about what others think and this gets me into big trouble. I put my needs last on the list because I put everyone else's needs (or what I think are their needs) first. And then I go home and avoid my own needs and responsibilities because by that point I'm crawling out of my skin.

Some people thrive under stress. Others, like me, get depressed and anxious and start wringing their hands. I spend hours worrying in my head instead of doing the things that need to get done, even though completing said things would probably make me feel better. But it isn't having a long list that makes me depressed and anxious, I know that. This goes back further, back to my biology. I'm pretty certain that I'm wired to react to the world this way, a mixture of good-natured, joyful, and anxious. I'm coming to see that I can't ignore this part of me anymore than I can ignore my body's slowing metabolism (hello, there). Just like I can exercise more and help encourage my body to stay in shape (I love how I write that as though I could be exercising more), I can do things that help me manage my moods. 

I've been on and off (mostly off) medication for ten years and I'm back on now, but making the appointment to try medication again was not easy. Do you know why? Because my depression doesn't always look like depression to me, like the commercials I see of people stuck in bed or on the couch. I am always busy, always running around after two children. I didn't see myself in the posters I see on the bus that gently encourage people to seek help from their doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms: lethargy, not getting out of bed, suicidal thoughts. That's not me. My depression feels like this: everything is hard. Getting my jobs done? Hard. Deciding what to make for dinner? Hard. Making any decision? Impossible. The same thing happened when I experienced postpartum depression (yup, had that twice). As a reader and constant researcher I started turning to books and blogs about PPD and I didn't see myself there. I wasn't having negative thoughts about my babies. I was sleeping (as much as a new parent sleeps). It was just hard and I felt overwhelmed and alone some most days.

So this is why I'm writing this today. Maybe someone else's depression looks like mine. Maybe this is you, and you need a nudge to dig around and see if medication might help (mine is helping a lot). I have a lot of work to do around this, I know that. Medication can't make me stop caring about what other people think, that's all me. But maybe it can give me the pause to do this work, give me a break from that feeling like I'm drowning in the day.

Or maybe I'm writing this today because I know that it is for the good. Maybe if I post this today it will become easier and easier to be honest. With myself, with my family, and with you. This is me being dreadfully honest, so go easy on me. Medication was my first step. Telling a few people about it was my second. Now here I am, telling you that sometimes life feels really hard but I'm trying. Trying to do what I can, trying to drink in these early years with our children, trying to give myself a break. 

Now I'm going to hit publish before I can talk myself out of it.

Be well!


  1. Love your honesty about something that is so hard to talk about. It's weird how on blogs we can tell all but depression is still a faux pas somehow. When I feel low, I also feel guilty...I do the "I should be happy!" routine (because I have a great husband, healthy kids, nice home, first world life!)...which adds to the bad feelings...ugh.
    If I lived nearer I'd give you a big hug of support and thanks for taking this brave step!

    1. I wish you did live near me! Long-distance hug accepted, though. It does still feel a bit shameful, and in the middle of sharing so much about my life, I still always keep it secret. (Until now.) But it feels so good, as it always has when I've shared it with others, to lift the weight off my chest.

  2. I agree Danielle, depression doesn't always look like a Celexa commercial, and it's helpful to hear others describe what depression looks like for them. At its worst, mine took the forms of: sitting at my computer staring off into space when I was trying to write; staying up late playing video games (for the first year, I self-medicated with a lot of Rock Band 2) until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore, so that when I went to bed I would just fall asleep quickly instead of lying awake crying; rereading the same paragraphs of my book over and over again because I couldn't focus; incessant journalling (usually while crying), which is often recommended but in retrospect was terrible for me, as it was just a focus for rumination. I went to therapy and took meds for about a year and a half; I'm off them now, and doing well, but I won't hesitate to go back on if I start sliding again. I'm glad the meds are helping you regain your balance. Sending hugs!

    1. Yes! Depression doesn't always look the same, and I'm realizing how important it is to know that. Did you recognize your own depression, or was it someone else? Matt is often my mirror for such things, and sometimes close friends. Glad you're feeling better. And, long-distance hugs always accepted.

    2. In my case, my depression was triggered by a traumatic loss -- so it was normal and expected that I would experience grief and mourning for awhile. But after a year went by, and I was still pretty debilitated by it in spite of doing "all the right things", my therapist suggested that it was probably time to consider adding medication as well.

  3. My depression had a radiating source. It wasn't easy to face but the clouds lifted when I did.

    1. Thank you, Stephanie. And I'm glad the clouds lifted. It is so lovely to feel better, isn't it?

  4. Danielle, That tv image of depression stopped me from getting help for 18+ months. I never wanted to harm my children and I wasn't sad. I just couldn't cope. Like you said, life was hard. I believed it was this hard for everyone, and that everyone lied about it. Meds do help (so does putting the kids in school -yeah!)
    I hope that you have a good week this week
    kaylie's Shelley

  5. Thanks, Shelley. I completely relate. It didn't feel at all like TV depression for me. And school is pretty great!

    Take care and be well.

  6. Hi Danielle,

    I can completely relate to your description of what depression feels like for you. The feeling that every day is an exercise in pushing yourself from one task to another and feeling exhausted all the time. I was on medication on and off and just recently got off it again. It got me through when I needed it and I'm thankful for that....I would say it helped to make me functional. What I've found that has really helped me with both depression (I was diagnosed with dysthymia years ago...which basically means a low grade chronic type of depression) and anxiety are homeopathic remedies (as well as vitamins and other supplements)...I've been seeing a homeopath for about 6 months now and she tailor makes remedies for individuals and has given me remedies for anxiety and depression. I feel so much better and so much more hopeful. One of my issues is also about trying to make it better for everyone else and wanting acceptance/approval from others. I've also seen a therapist recently who really helped me look at my core beliefs and what is at play "behind the scenes" so to speak in terms of my thoughts/actions. I hope this helps you to know that you are not alone. And I hope that you take whatever steps you feel are necessary (what the little voice inside you is saying) to move you forward in healing from depression/anxiety. For example, one thing I've found to be so important for me is having quiet time alone to recharge and having time to read or knit. Take care! Cora

    1. Thanks so much, Cora, for your thoughtful message. It is good to know that you're not the only pushing through. I think the hardest part has been that I love so much about my life and I am so grateful for a family that makes me laugh every day but that it can still be a struggle. Depression and anxiety have kicked my ass at times, and so I'm learning what helps me the most. Slowly!

      Again, thank you for the kind words.