Friday, April 4, 2014

I Am Spartacus

This is the third of three posts I’ve written recently about my depression. I had filed them away, never to see the light of day, but to heck with that. I’m writing about this now; it’s my truth and that’s okay on my blog.

And, because I know that reading other bloggers’ honest accounts of their struggles helps me, I hope it helps someone someday.

With this particular post, I know I’m messing with the timeline, because I’m now (April) posting something I wrote in January, something that led me to decide to post about depression in March. I think we can work with that--just don’t think about it too hard!

A couple of weeks back, I started a blog about a couple of sweet moments that were rays of light in what’s been a dark time for me. I started like this:

When I struggled with postpartum depression after S. was born, I forced myself to write in my journal every night.

It didn’t have to be long and it often wasn’t—three or four sentences at most. But I made myself write down one good thing that happened that day.

I had planned to write more about how those recent, brief positive experiences cheered me up. Maybe I will sometime. But after I wrote the introductory sentences above, I decided to dig up my journals and read the entries from the first year after S. was born.

Yes, I had a few “Awww, I’d forgotten that” reactions, but one thought overwhelmed me.

What a load of crap.

Yes, I’m glad I documented the good stuff. But writing down only the good stuff doesn’t mean the bad stuff didn’t happen. Forcing myself to record the best two percent of the day did, in fact, help me to keep going, but it didn’t negate the other 98% of the day, which sucked.

Why am I glad I documented the good stuff? Because I wouldn’t remember it otherwise. Why? Because I was horribly depressed and, for a good chunk of those first eighteen months, suffering thyroiditis and the subsequent hypothyroidism. I wouldn’t have remembered because I was mentally and physically gutted.

That was the bad stuff. It was real and it happened. I don’t see any point in hiding it anymore. If I say depression is nothing to be ashamed of, why do I keep acting (or trying to) like I’m always fine?

In a mystery novel I like, Julia Spencer Fleming’s One Was a Soldier, the main character says this, “We’re all so in love with the idea of moving on and growing through loss and making lemonade when life hands us lemons that we don’t take time to mourn. Before you can move on, you have to stand still and account for what’s been lost. Sometimes, you have to throw the damn lemon against the wall and yell, I wanted chocolate chip cookies, not this bitter fruit.”

So, that day I ended up exploring more of the mourning and anger of my depressions—recent and not-so-recent—than the bright moments. And I actually think that was the most productive thing I could have done at that time.
Back in April now—pay attention, keep up, we can do this!

Today, I saw this on Upworthy and it’s so true. Not only does the video give us a lot of great information about mental illness (illness!) these days, but it also reminds me of how depression feels—going through the motions of life wrapped in a furry, suffocating, gray thing, feeling like everyone can see how messed up you are, and yet not really being seen by anyone.
I didn’t see the video until today, but it’s the other half of why I started to post about my depression. The first half, as I’ve written, was because I need to be honest about my life, depression, anger, and all. The second half was to get some attention for that elephant, for me and for all the others.

Either way, I’m standing up to say, “I am Spartacus…and I struggle with depression!”

And my profound admiration and gratitude goes out to everyone who has commented or messaged me. I've always known I have been blessed with beautiful friends, but hearing from some of you that you also deal with depression and are still as amazing as you are means the world to me. We are Spartacus!

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