I didn’t expect to take such a long hiatus between posts, and I can’t even put a lot of blame on being too busy. I have a few posts started and in various stages of completion, and yet I haven’t been able to click publish for any of them.
Truth is, I’m depressed. Or at least, I think I am.
I’ve battled depression before, but it’s hard to remember exactly how it felt many years ago. I remember a lot of sadness – sadness without any cause – when I was depressed before. This time, though, it’s very little sadness and more of a quietly growing sense of…nothing.
It’s been creeping up on me for a few months now, as my interests slowly became less interesting, time alone seemed easier than maintaining friendships, chores could always wait one more day, and feeling nothing replaced feeling anything at all. I want to see friends, but then realize I have so little to talk about with them. It’s as if everything has lost its value to me.
I think it started after my miscarriage in February. Pregnancy hormones mess with my emotions, but having them abruptly stopped midway – and without a fussy baby to keep me busy – seems to be worse than the short periods of postpartum depression I experienced after Cordy and Mira. Back then, I could find myself suddenly crying over a bowl of cereal, or a dish soap commercial, but at least I could easily recognize it and know it wasn’t normal. This new experience of losing interest in everything around me – no crying, no mood swings, just cold, paralyzing indifference – has been silently insidious and, when I really think about it, a little frightening.
That’s not to say that I’ve been a mopey lump all during this time. I’ve been trying to fight it off. I’ve participated in races, running just to feel something, even if it was exhaustion. I’ve smiled for photos, had fun at amusement parks and spent time with family, willing myself to act like everything was alright even if I had the urge to be home in bed a few times each day. I’ve had genuine moments of happiness, too – they’re just more short-lived. And I can absolutely still be happy for the good fortunes of others.
But it’s the emptiness that is the hardest to cope with, because it results in a lack of energy to do anything. We all know joy can give you energy and motivation, but anger, sadness, and other negative emotions are equally capable of providing the motivation to power through each day, although arguably not in as healthy of a manner. Even if I was sad, that would be something to urge me into action. (Proof that I did learn something from watching Inside Out.)
Instead, I’m left feeling numb, and numb provides no energy or motivation at all. It’s a condition of stasis – you sit very still and watch the world go by around you, wishing you could be involved and wrap yourself up in the feelings of humanity, but you’re given none of the tools to get up and make it happen. It’s as if your willpower is being held hostage by the great, black Nothing.
There are still the responsibilities that must be done each day, though, and they are accomplished, although not always quite on time and without feeling the appreciation for a job well done. Work is easiest, since I can lose myself in code and spreadsheets easily. Blogging is hardest, since it involves sharing my thoughts and feelings, and I can’t seem to find anything worth sharing. Somewhere in the middle is child care, housework, and personal care, all with varying levels of difficulty depending on the day.
It’s so hard to write about this, because I hate admitting that I’m depressed. I’ve been trying to write this post for over a week and struggling with putting myself out there, but I feel like I can’t move beyond it if I don’t acknowledge it openly. I do worry others will think I’m looking for sympathy or attention, which isn’t the case. I worry more about making people feel uncomfortable around me, or being too boring and blank for others to tolerate.
In many ways, I’m lucky that I’m not experiencing the hopelessness that many feel in more extreme bouts of depression. This may have me down at the moment, but I know I’ll never count myself out. I remain functional, even if everything takes a lot more effort. And I’m fighting my way through it, day-by-day, with the help of family and friends. Eventually I’ll find a way to bring this wall of apathy down and feel again, no matter how long it takes.
If there’s anything I could share as a takeaway from this post, it would be this: depression isn’t always dramatic and easy to identify, in others or in yourself. Sometimes it’s subtle: slowly chipping away at everything that makes you who you are, suffocating your feelings and suppressing your interests, until all that’s left is an empty person disconnected from the world. Yet on the surface that person still carries on. It’s no way to live, and anyone who finds themselves in that position should seek out help.
Depression can’t stop me, though. Somehow I will get back on track.
** Some geeky types may have read the post title and thought it was a reference to the musical episode of the TV show Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. (Season 8, Once More With Feeling) If so, you’re correct! That song sums up my recent condition very nicely. Sorry, no prizes to give out for guessing correctly, but I’ll throw in an animated gif for fun.