It seemed to come out of nowhere this time.
I came back from Ohio exhausted, and the exhaustion never went away. I didn’t feel well physically, either. I didn’t want to get out of bed or do anything. I canceled most of my appointments and stayed inside with the blinds closed. I ordered pizza and Chinese food and watched Netflix. And didn’t take my meds.
And told no one.
Where was God? He was right here with me. I just ignored Him.
By the time Thursday evening came around and I was sitting on Margi’s couch, all I could do was cry. I finally told someone how bad it had gotten. And being the fine spiritual director she is, she didn’t try to fix anything. She did, however, begin to name all of the things I’ve been dealing with over the past month. I’d not put it all together…how could I when the black fog was surrounding me so tightly?
This was such a vivid example of why we need one another. Why we need community. When we can’t see our forest for the trees, someone else can. And Margi was able to show me some of the trees that were blocking me from seeing the forest.
It didn’t make the depression go away, but it normalized it for me. Helped me understand why my system was shutting down. One thing I have learned over the years — my brain can only handle so much. When there’s a lot going on, lots of transitions, lots of emotional intensity and lots of processing to do, I get overwhelmed, and more easily than most. Meds help. A LOT. But when I’m in the pit of emotional and physical exhaustion/depression it’s too easy to stop taking the meds. After all, the thought of opening a can of beans was overwhelming; so much easier to order food via the laptop. (Too bad Cymbalta isn’t offered as a pizza topping.)
If you’ve never been depressed, this will make no sense. I understand.
Of course, my left brain knew what to do: I needed to go outside. I needed to take a walk. I needed to take a shower. I needed to take my meds and my vitamins. I needed to turn off the TV. I needed to eat veggies and fruits and beans. I needed to talk to God and lament and process. I needed to get out my gratitude journal and count gifts, even the hard ones. I needed to set my mind on things above. And when I realized I wasn’t able to do any of this?
I needed to ASK FOR HELP. (“M’aidez, m’aidez!”)
Lesson learned. (I hope.)
It took a few days to start feeling better. Getting outside helped. Going to the ocean helped. Going to church and worshiping helped. Finally telling my husband and my pastor that I’d been depressed helped. Talking with Anne (my therapist) yesterday helped a lot. Getting Cymbalta back in my system probably helped the most. And eating healthy yesterday made a difference, I’m sure.
Speaking of yesterday…I turned a corner, but it was a slog. After seeing Anne and my chiropractor, I didn’t come home and stare at entertainment. I managed to get a lot done even though I felt like I was trudging through oatmeal all day. But that’s OK. I committed to moving slowly and taking the day one breath at a time. I wrote in my gratitude journal for the first time in over a week and that felt good. I made healthy meals. I met with one of my directees and we had a fantastic session. And I had a good night’s sleep. Something definitely shifted.
Today feels much better. Making a smoothie for breakfast wasn’t overwhelming. I’m not canceling appointments. I’m looking forward to going outside. I’m eager to talk to some friends. Another corner has been turned.
All I can do is offer a broken Hallelujah of praise.
If any of you are suffering with depression of any kind — chronic or acute, mild or severe — please ask for help.
And know you are not alone.