Friday, May 29, 2009

Depression is a Weird Animal


As I write this the feeling of empty numbness lays heavy on my heart and I can't really say why. Depression is a weird animal. For some it comes in waves, knocking them down to where they sleep for days, or cry for hours and hours over nothing in particular. For others it comes after some type of trauma, and takes them by surprise, almost like a thief in the night coming to steal their joy. But for me, it sticks to me like white on rice, quite subtley, for as long as I remember, and has no beginning and no end. A doctor once told me I have 'dysthymia', which is a low grade depression over time, and then I understood a bit about myself, and hated it all at the same time.

Now for those of you who know me, this might come as a surprise, or it might not. When I meet most people they tend to always tell me how joyful and happy I seem. I'm not surprised by it, because I know God gave me a gift of optimism, but there are times that I feel like screaming out, "Do you not have any idea how miserable I feel, do you not see it?" But I know they don't, and I am grateful that the spirit they see in me is not one of the enemy, but one of God. And I wish that were enough, to know that God's spirit is in me, beaming forth with positive light, but for me it just isn't, and I carry a great deal of guilt around because of it. The thought of 'snap out of it', or 'get off your pity pot and flush' comes dancing through my head, taunting me, and I honestly feel helpless to fight against that. There are times I talk to God about it, and experience real joy, and then very quietly it comes creeping back in, like a wet blanket of dew covering each morning. What I would give to find the solution to once and for all be rid of this quiet sadness in my heart.

I have spent a lifetime of dealing with it, this depression, and there have been times it was worse than it is now, but there has not been a time that I can remember that it hasn't in some way been with me. So I started thinking about ways depression is dealt with, to try and get some sense of where I was going wrong. I know the danger and damage that substance abuse brings, the false sense of security it gives you each time you give in and try to quiet the voices in your head. I know the cruel harm it brings when you try desperately to stuff the wounds and hurt that your heart feels only to have it fester and rare its ugly head later down the road. And, I know the fear and trepidation it brings when sitting in a therapist's office and it makes you feel like crawling in your own skin because of the raw emotion it brings up that you have tried to deny your entire life. At best it's exhausting. At worse it takes your life.

In more ways than one it takes your life. It actually can bring you on your knees to the point where you are so blind to hope that you finally cave and end your life. I have experienced this with friends, and the loss never heals. What I also find horrific is that due to my own chronic pain issues, the meds I take are like depression fairy dust, their side effects act as novocain for the heart, where you feel nothing, see nothing, experience nothing, just go through the motions. Life is taken away by that, and then the reality of the benefit of the medicine to treat the pain must be weighed against the toll it takes on the loss of your spirit. One might as well throw craps to see which option is better.

I wish I had some magical answer here, like I found the cure so I could share it with everyone and help some of you with your own pain, but for today I have no answers. For today, I am merely sharing this struggle with you so some of you don't feel alone in this walk, or embarrassed, or hate yourself for living a beautiful life but not being able to embrace its beauty. If I had a wish I would so wish for everyone to be given the keys to unlocking the true joy they are meant to experience as they walk this Earth, it would save families, stop wars, make pain bearable, and mostly bring us closer to God. And what I know, at least for me, is that God must be the key here. The times in my life that I have felt the lowest, he has always found some way to gently reach out, pick my face up, and show me that he loves me. Ahhhh, just the thought brings me some peace, and then, like a brilliant idea that flashes quickly in the mind, I see it, HOPE. For without it, there would be no reason to press on, no reason to love, or laugh, or live really. And in the brief instant that I could wrap my fingers around it God says to me, stay in the moment, talk with him, walk with him, share this pain with him, for he understands it all too well. And I remember the song that was playing as I pulled in the driveway today, "Always", here is the most beautiful lyric I could leave you with:

I believe always, always
our savior never fails.
Even when all hope is gone
God knows our pain
and his promise remains,
He will be with you always
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10
The drawing above was one I did the year I went on disability. It's not one of my favorites, but it is one that shows my brutally honest mood at the time, how fitting.
If you deal with the same issues I would love to know I am not alone in this. Drop me a line so we can pull each other up by the bootstraps, (as most people say in 12 step programs). Love you peeps, with God's love wrapped all between us.
ardith@ardithgoodwin.com


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