“Depression lies.” I’d never thought about depression in those terms until I started reading Wil Wheaton’s blog,* but it’s so true. It’s not just that the feelings (or lack thereof) that accompany a bout of depression (often with a healthy side-helping of anxiety) are temporary, it’s that they’re not true.
The awful patina of dread that accompanies pretty much every action when I’m depressed is real, yes. But it’s not true. There’s a subtle, yet important, difference. There’s no question the feeling is real. It exists. I can’t get around that. I’m stuck smack dab in the middle of it. And yet somewhere, deep inside where I can’t find it anymore, I really am happy about all the amazing stuff in my life.
I have the best, most supportive partner I can imagine, a family I love and can rely on, a group of friends who are second to none, a job I enjoy and am good at, and several podcasts I am incredibly proud of. I couldn’t be happier! Except that when depression comes calling, I’m not. Or at least, I can’t remember that I am. It’s crazy how knowing something and feeling it are two completely separate things.
So when I do hit a rough patch, I find that I remind myself of all those great things. And now that I’ve read Wil’s** take on it, I’ve added another layer. Now I also remind myself the good feelings will be back. The bad ones are a pack of lies, and even though it’s hard to see, I’ve got something very specific to look forward to—the day when the lies start to lift and I can see and feel the truth again.
I will not always feel completely overwhelmed when I think about getting out of bed. One of these days, I’ll get stir-crazy again and pop up to face the day simply because I want to.
Daily tasks that usually make me feel a sense of accomplishment will do so again. Podcast editing will be something to look forward to instead of a burden.
Watching Doctor Who won’t continue to be a laborious task I have to do for the podcast, it’ll become a fun pastime I get to do for the podcast.**
The panic I feel at having to leave the house is not permanent. That feeling of excitement at heading out into a day where anything can happen? It will return.
The fake smile I plaster on for strangers, acquaintances, and coworkers isn’t really fake. It’s just early. Because I will be happy to see people again.
Thinking about the future won’t always be frightening and paralyzing. Specifically, upcoming travel will be something I look forward to instead of being glad it’s not coming any sooner. And more generally, I’ll once again be able to see hints of the amazing opportunities that surround me, and it’ll be exciting.
The sensation of wearing lead boots whenever I have to go anywhere or do anything, it’s not going to stick around forever. And when it goes, I’ll feel even lighter by comparison. It’ll be like flying!°
Simply reading all the things I just typed has helped. I can’t say it’s made me feel any less depressed/anxious, but mingled in with the depression is a certainty that I can get to the other side if I keep putting one foot in front of the other.
And that’s worth a lot.
*Note: I do recognize he was inspired to use those words by an excellent post from The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson. I’m certainly not trying to reassign credit—just making it clear the path which led me to those words.
**I hope he doesn’t mind if I call him by his first name.
***Same for Babylon 5 and whatever I happen to be watching/reading/playing for podcast purposes.
°Kinda like when you’re super-nauseous or in terrible pain and it finally passes. That sense of relief is amazing. The first day of normality after a bout of depression has some of that same flavor. Just feeling normal again is like a gift. And I like getting gifts!