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When Depression Comes Like a Thief in the Early Hours of the Night

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So much has been written about it that it would seem there are no words left to describe the malicious thief that robs your life of any and all joy. But I think the truth lies closer to the fact that, for those who have never experienced its evil hands, there are no words precise or potent enough to describe its unmistakable chokehold; and for those who have experienced its tyranny, words are simply superfluous and meaningless. Mere letters strung together in a specific and meaningful pattern have no impact relative to this demon. It swallows them whole and sneers distastefully at the futile attempt to describe its power.

It’s 4:05 am, and I lie here, wide awake, with little to no hope of shutting my eyes for just an hour or two to maybe escape the pain, the dread, the sadness and despair. Ironically, it is oftentimes better if I don’t sleep because when I do, I pay dearly for that minimal retreat. As consciousness is kindled by the light of the new day, the return of the demon is exponential times infinity. I guess this monster does not like to be ignored. If I am lucky enough to have had a peaceful rest (which is rare), the thief returns with a vengeance, reminding me in no uncertain terms it is the master and I the slave and it is here to stay — a constant reminder that no matter my efforts, it is bigger and stronger than anything I have in my arsenal.

And then, as a cruel joke, it taunts you to try and leave the cushioned cradle of the night before. After all those hours of praying for the stillness and silence of sleep, mostly to no avail, this evil monster then makes your every attempt to start your day a Herculean task, pushing you and prodding you back into your puffy prison and daring you to try to overcome the utter fatigue and complete exhaustion. Fight as you will, the monster usually prevails, if not at first then at a later and inopportune time. It must prevail, and you are not a worthy adversary.

To add to the mix, enter the unwitting allies of this destructive beast. Try harder. It is all in your head. If you would only [fill in the blank] Go for a walk. Appreciate what you have. Time is passing. You will never get this time back. I feel or have felt the same. I did [fill in the blank]. Practice gratitude, mindfulness, meditation. See a therapist. Therapy doesn’t help. Have you tried this new med? And on and on it goes. Well-meaning, loving, kind, sometimes contradictory. We have heard it all. And the beast dances in delight as we process all the reasons why we fail, why we can’t just do it. This fills the beast’s coffer and reenergizes it for yet another day. Our depletion is its revival.

So what is the answer? Do we give up, give in? That can’t be right. But where are the answers, where are the promises of a better day? Faith is easy when you can see the sun and smell the flowers. But what do you do when the senses are numb and “change” seems like a dirty word? How do we unclench the fists of this evil demon and find our way back to peace and light? How long can we keep up the fight?

It is now 4:58 am, and the answers are no clearer than they were an hour ago. But I know I cannot let go. I cannot let this force win. So off I go, to take some cleansing breaths and to follow some guided meditation to bring me to sleep. Pray for me when I simply ask that tomorrow (today) should be a better day!

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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Thinkstock photo by moodboard

Originally published: December 2, 2016
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