My Sadness is a Verb not a Noun
“Scratch her and she’ll bleed sadness.” Wouldn’t that be a great opening line for a novel? Truth is stranger than fiction. This is my story.
When I feel sadness, I am immediately fearful. Is this the sadness that feels like a wet fur coat in July? Is it the same sadness that sat on my chest and poked me until I cried? No. This is different. My current sadness is a verb; not a noun.
A few years ago, I toppled into a clinical depression. I remember sitting in the ER while my son was being treated and something popped. It was like the last bubble of resolve in my brain expired and I was overcome by darkness. My heart ran out of blood. I tumbled into unknown territory so fast I couldn’t identify what I was going through. It was hard to breathe. I was a shadow of my former self.
In the beginning I was extremely successful hiding depression from everyone close to me. As my depression continued, it got to the point where I had trouble leaving my house. Frankly I had trouble doing anything except crying. I raged at myself and the feelings of inadequacy—if I were smarter, somehow different, worked less, exercised more ….. if (insert anything her) then I wouldn’t feel so hopeless.
I was living on CONTINGENCY. As long as everyone else was doing well, I was doing well! Things were falling apart fast and based on this system, I too would become a casualty. I was taking zero time for myself, not only for self-care but time for feeding my passions. I was living for my kids, had my identity tied up in my job and felt invisible in my marriage. Kaboom. There she blows! I had nothing to ground me in the storm.
Depression affects all people regardless of geography, socio-economic status and age. Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression; often stemming from an inability to process or express anger. In the midst of depression, it feels like a glass divider separates you from the world. Help is just too far away or you don’t feel worthy of the help.
Depression is a pit of despair. The walls are high enough to keep you trapped inside and out of sight.
Now when I feel the sadness running through me but it doesn’t knock me down or overwhelm me. Why? I am giving myself permission to sit with “uncomfortable” feelings. From this struggle I will grow. I am confident of that fact.
I have learned to give myself permission to feel. Everyone struggles!!! I take care of the little girl inside, craving to be healed. I am pursuing my passions. I laugh, I sleep, I dance. I work really hard and play even harder.
If you walk in the rain, you get wet. This is how I describe my current sadness. It’s damp and I sometimes chill to the bone but I can seek the comfort of friends for shelter. The rain cleanses me of my sadness a little piece at a time. The rain nourishes a hopeful tomorrow.
I am scared shitless that depression will once again take over my life. when I feel sad I have to pause, and remind myself that this sadness has movement; has meaning. It is not permanent. Being scared helps me stay invested in my self-care.
If there is someone in your life struggling with depression, ask them how they are doing. Keep asking. They may not hear you until the 32nd time but speaking from the other side, it matters that you ask and offer to listen. It matters that you invite them to do things you know they will enjoy. Don’t take it personally if they refuse or don’t answer your calls.
Depression is not about putting on your big girl panties. The worst thing you can do is to tell someone to “get over it” or offer advice. Depression is a chemical imbalance requiring medical attention. Encourage your loved one to seek professional help. If we talk about depression, we can begin to erode the stigma surrounding it. Talking might just save a life!
Hoping to hear from you……
From the heart,
“Dancing in the Rain” photo courtesy of FeatherandBranch.com
Categories: Depression, Support system, Stigma, Self-care, Friendship
Tags: Depression is real, Living on contingency, Remove the stigma, Sadness is a verb
First published 3/7/12