Depression is an insidious disease, a formidable foe, and a pain in the … neck. I was diagnosed with it years ago, sought help, took medication, and gradually got better. I felt so much better, in fact, that eventually I stopped taking the medication. A few years later, I found myself fighting debilitating fatigue, a lack of motivation, and a missing spark of creativity. Naturally, I blamed all sorts of other things (like a busy schedule, summer heat, diabetes, and getting older) for all o my problems because it happened so slowly, I didn’t notice it happening until I was deep in the well.
That’s the trouble with depression, It creeps up on you. It knocks the legs out from under you slowly, steadily, and so subtly you realize it’s gaining the upper hand. By the end of last year, I started thinking that maybe I was fighting depression again. In January, I traveled northward to spend a couple of months with Younger Daughter and the amazing grand-kids, and it only took my daughter a few days to see that I wasn’t beginning to battle with depression. I was fully in its grip.
It had been months since I’d written anything except the occasional blog post, and I didn’t really even want to write anything. I didn’t feel like cleaning house. I didn’t feel like going anywhere. I didn’t look forward to things I had planned with friends, and I cried over something at least once every day–but I couldn’t see how deeply it was affecting me because it didn’t hit me all at once.
This kind of depression isn’t situational. It’s not brought on by trouble. It’s not a case of the blues. A person suffering from depression can feel helpless and hopeless, in spite of how great their life is going. In spite of having everything you’ve ever wanted. In spite of being in a healthy relationship. Life is an uphill battle, and most fixes lift the heaviness only for a short amount of time.
I’m on the mend again now, which is great. I feel a whole lot better and I haven’t cried in weeks, which is wonderful. Story ideas are starting to spark in my brain again, and I don’t have to force myself to the keyboard every day.
I’m not sure why I’m sharing this except that I firmly believe that trying to pretend like I don’t struggle with depression doesn’t do me or anyone else any good. I struggle, like many other people do. It seems to be a nasty problem for many creative people, but it’s certainly not limited to creative types.
Maybe I’m writing this today because last week, I listened to a speaker who obviously had no experience with depression saying she thought that maybe depression was a side-effect of boredom. That comment bothered me for days. I found myself thinking about it often. It’s not that I’m angry with the speaker for not understanding. Clinical depression is impossible to understand if you haven’t experienced it.
It’s not something you can wish away, pray away, or will away. You can’t make it better by going out with friends or listening to uplifting music any more than you can heal heart disease with a cheerful song or drop your A1C levels by reading an inspiring book. And I guess that even though I’m one small whisper in the wind here on the internet, I just want to add my voice to those who are talking about it and trying to help people understand something they can’t actually understand.
If you’re struggling with depression, don’t let anyone convince you that medication isn’t a viable tool in your arsenal. You want to fight this thing with every weapon in your belt, so by all means pray, read good books, and see your therapist, and go to church and pray. But fight it with modern medicine, too. Don’t stop taking your medication. Things can get better. Things will get better. I’m living proof.