My Life With Not-So-Functional Depression

I fell asleep in a puddle of my own tears last night. After a day of self-care, a day off from work, I’d had a relaxed morning, a few hours extra sleep, some simple chores and spent the afternoon with my family in the park. All signs pointed to a good day. I’d even Skyped with a much-missed friend who had moved to America. The day had been bright and sunny, if not a bit cold, and I felt OK.

So what happened? Why after my bubble bath did I suddenly dissolve into tears? I wish I had the answer. My depression can overtake me like the flick of a light switch. Suddenly I’m submerged and I can’t find a way out. It’s like a dam breaks and suddenly tears are leaking from my eyes. I vacillate between outright sobbing and a quiet misery where tears just drip down my face. I crawled into bed and stared at the ceiling. I don’t care anymore. Chores and family responsibilities which seemed all so important a few minutes ago completely fall off my radar. I lay in bed, desperate to fall asleep and find some peace but instead I lay awake soaking my pillow. All the negative thoughts I fight on a daily basis come swarming back and I find myself having to face the fact that in this moment, I’m not OK. Last night I wasn’t coping, I wasn’t fine and I wasn’t OK. I wished the world would swallow me up and everything would just stop.

Eventually I fell asleep to the “what if’s” of tomorrow. What if I still feel awful tomorrow? What if I can’t stop crying? What if I can’t sleep and I stay up all night, alone and miserable? What if my depression is back for good? What if I can’t crawl out from under it this time? It’s times like these I realize my head, often a refuge from life, can be a scary place. When depression grips, I don’t feel safe in myself. My mind is stuffed with strange, terrifying thoughts and I’m afraid they’re here to stay.

I’m at work this morning. My depression has lingered and I’d already burst into tears twice before leaving the house this morning. When my alarm went off, I stared at the ceiling and wondered where the hell I would find the energy to go to work today. But I did. I went to work and promptly found myself crying in the bathroom and clutching my phone. Scrolling through my contacts and wondering who I could call. Who would be my lifeline today? Who would throw me a rope and keep me afloat? Who would save me from myself? I’m tired of saving myself. I spend too much energy trying to keep my head above water. From the depression that will spring its presence on me like an unwelcome relative who will leave you counting down the hours til when they’ll leave or my anxiety that has me trembling for fear, it will turn up unwanted.

And yet I’m at work and I will be tomorrow and the next day and the next day. I’ll keep living my life because I have to. I’ll keep doing the laundry and tidying the house. I’ll keep making dinner and trying to see friends and family. Life will roll on regardless of the nights I spend crying or panicking, the nights where I question my own existence, the nights where I keep myself afloat by some miracle. Because at the end of the day, as Anna Kendrick sings in “The Last Five Years,” “See I’m smiling that means I’m happy,” right? Although to quote another song of the same soundtrack, in reality, “I’m still hurting.”

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Unsplash photo via Sydney Sims

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