The Small Act That Taught Me the Importance of Support With Depression
Depression is often felt in different intensities. I have been living with chronic depression and anxiety since the age of 12. In the past 13 years, I have felt it in many degrees. Some days, it feels like I can’t even function; other days, it’s barely there and I feel vibrant and alive. It’s not something that truly disappears, but some days are better than others.
In my 13 years living with depression, I have been on and off medications, spoken with therapists, tried out yoga — I thought I was really good with flexibility, but it turns out I had Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) and didn’t know it yet. Ha! I told myself many affirmations, different methods of meditating, and so many other avenues to get a grip on the darkness I could never seem to shake. Now, I have many more peaks than valleys, and you know what? I’m happy with where I am now.
Honestly, this week has been tough — one of my lowest lows in years. Family troubles and facing the loss of my father in ways I have not yet in the two years since his passing has gotten me deep within my own thoughts, and that can be scary for anyone. It can be made worse when the depression and anxiety get so bad it impairs the ability to function, eat, sleep or feel human. On one hand, I feel I deserve an award for simply getting out of bed; on the other hand, I feel even if I won a marathon or solved the world’s hardest math equation, I wouldn’t be worthy of an award or even praise because I am unworthy of anything in life. That and other typical lies depression loves to try and trick you into believing.
This article isn’t all about the darkness and numbness that come with depression, although they can certainly show up and stay for a while, but rather about the small act that helped me start to pull myself up again and move forward. You see, this is my lowest point in years, and also my first extreme low as a married woman.
My husband and I have been married for seven months now, and together for five and a half years. He is very aware of my struggles, as I believe it to be very important to be as open as possible with partners on where you are mentally and emotionally. It isn’t always fun, but important nonetheless. This is his first time seeing me feel so down and out. It is not a fun place to be, and I am sure it is not fun for him to witness.
One of my springtime hobbies is gardening, even if we live in an apartment and all I have to work with is a balcony and tons of hoarded pots collected over the years, mainly from the dollar store. As soon as March hits, I get miniature red solo cups and plants, various flower and vegetable seeds and tend to them inside until the weather is nice enough for them to be out on the balcony. We always have an abundance of plants to the point I’ve gotten thank you notes from neighbors for having such a beautiful addition to our building. Growing plants gives me a hobby, a sense of pride and when they’re ready, fresh herbs for cooking. Usually, it brings me happiness — the happiness I use to combat the sadness that can creep in when I am not expecting it.
As much as I love my plants, I’ve been letting them die and not caring what happens to them. My beanstalks had slumped over, my sprouts that haven’t been repotted are surely growing and tangling their roots, making transfer difficult or impossible, and they need to be watered. My depression tells me it’s all OK, there will be more next year! Sit on the couch and watch a blank television screen for another 30 minutes instead! And I have listened.
However, tonight my husband came home from work and saw me sitting solemnly on the couch in complete silence. He looked at me in a half slump, bags under my eyes, feeling defeated by an invisible villain that feels impossible to beat, and saw my poor beanstalks flopped over in their pot. So even after working all day, he happily helped move them to a new pot, planted all the sprouts and seedlings ready to be moved, watered everything and cleaned up the mess. Now, my husband is good at many things, but gardening is not one. Practically every plant I’ve let him take care of has either died of lack of water, overwatering, or overzealous pruning, but that didn’t stop him from doing it with the utmost care and the gentlest of hands.
I am someone who does not enjoy asking for help and feels guilty if I accept it (hello, more depression lies). I treasure those plants look forward to every year. Depression almost stole that from me. To have my daisies moved to their own pots where they can thrive, my marigolds watered and already looking fresh and healthy in a matter of hours, and my sad little beanstalks standing tall and tied gently to the skewers for support, really made me realize I don’t have to be alone in this current low. Tonight, I ate my first full meal in days, my stress fever is gone and I feel capable of having an alright day tomorrow.
Such a small act has had such a big impact. No one necessarily needs a husband, wife, partner, family member or friend to save them from despair. I have pulled myself out on my own many times, but that doesn’t mean it was easy. Tonight, I learned more than ever to let the people you love in and let them show you love and support. You are worth it, you deserve it. Never let depression trick you into thinking you deserve any less. Never let depression fool you into thinking anyone who does something nice has wasted their time. Again, you are worth it; you deserve it.
In my experience with mental health, the need for companionship in any form is always talked about, but it wasn’t until now I realize just how important it is. If you are someone struggling with feelings of hopelessness and grief, find the person you can confide in. If you are someone who sees that friend or loved one slumped over on the couch, reach out and do what you can to bring them light and happiness; a small amount of kindness goes such a long way when the world feels entirely devoid of it. Although I am not quite out of this low, I can now see far enough along to know in my heart I can and will feel better. I will feel like myself again. Depression has only been feeding me lies. My beanstalks may still be a little crooked, but they are still growing; now, thanks to help from my husband, they are stronger than ever. Always remember, if you keep pushing forward even when you’re at your lowest, happiness will return. The person who won’t let your flowers die is out there and cares about you.
Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash