Thursday, June 23, 2022

It's Not Really Depression, Right?

 I feel like I am standing on the edge of the cliff.  Up here, I can look around and down below, and I can see a vast landscape.  It isn't luscious and green.  It isn't filled with flowers and color.  It is dark and deep, and it is an abyss that calls me by name.  It KNOWS me.  It recognizes the shape of me, the energy I put off, all the things that are in me that do not belong.  It calls to me.  It shows me beautiful things, things that look good. And yet, if I look at them from a different angle, or light shines down on them, they crumble to dust.

When I get to this point, I think I fool myself into thinking I am not depressed.  I am clinging so desperately to my own sanity, and I already feel like I am drowning.  The depression beckons me to just lay down and stop fighting.  Just stay in bed.  Just today.  Just lay down and succumb.

It is so alluring, this call to lay down and just stop. To let it all wash over me, and just spend months locked away from the world, while I suffer under the weight of it.  I look at where I am right now, and I look at what is on the horizon, and neither option is desirable.

I honestly don't want to be in either place--either in the middle of depression, or on the edge of it.  And yet, it is the place I find myself.  Yet again.  It's a ride I can't get off of. I don't have the luxury of just setting depression down and simply hoping it goes away.  My entire adult life (and likely much of my teen years) has been a balance between sanity and mental torment.  

Most days, I win.  Not the me who I am trying desperately to put to death, but the me who is fearfully and wonderfully made.  The me who loves Jesus and wants to serve him...the one who relies on HIS strength because I know I have none left...that's the me who usually gets through yet another day.

Then there are other days where I'm exhausted from fighting.  I am weak.  I give into the feelings and the chaos.  I let my mind wander around through a minefield.  It is as if during these dark times, I have convinced myself that this minefield I am trudging through is not filled with traps and pain and death! And so I spend some time there, being filled up with all things empty.  

Even while I am there, I am disgusted.  I know it isn't right.  I know it isn't true.  I know it isn't what my mind needs to be fixating on. This obsession, this compulsion to consider the what ifs - I want it to die.  I don't want to be this scared, nervous, obsessive person who is easily swayed by whatever looks good. Even if I can see it dripping with death and decay, there is still this small part of me that craves that. How? Why? I know it's empty and dead. And yet, because it's pretty on the outside, it calls to me.

This is depression.

It dresses itself up and it tries to play itself off as good.  It tries to trick me.  It tries to whisper that it is what I need.  And when you are exhausted and raw and unsettled, giving in to it sure does sound like the easiest thing to do. In fact, it IS the easy thing to do. To just lay down. To just close my eyes, stop fighting for just a few minutes, and let what happens, happen. Because I can fool myself into thinking that it'll only grip me for a few minutes or hours. But those hours turn into days, which turn into months. Dark, awful, scary months, where I can't trust my own mind or thoughts because they want to convince me that life is not worth living anymore.

I'm a little angry, if I am honest, calling this place I am in depression.

Yesterday, I felt like I was just on the edge, like I hadn't given in.

And this morning, I wonder if I have been fooling myself.

The panic, the anxiety, the things that lead into depression, that's where I am at, right?  Just there?  Not any further?  I haven't really tipped my toes into this again, have I? And what if I have?  Why does this always come with shame? Why can't I just BE unsettled and BE not okay without it also ushering in guilt and shame for feeling like this to begin with?  I want to beat myself up for finding myself here. It is a vicious cycle and it would be so easy to just let is all crash down on top of me.

I know that's a lie. Because the truth is something God showed me before I even started writing this: yes, I am here again, trying desperately not to get sucked in and pulled under. And yes it is hard. And yes, I am currently fighting a fight for literal life. 

This time around, I can see it coming - maybe not a mile off, but I'll tell you this.  The last depression in 2020?  It snuck up on me and I was completely surprised to find myself in the midst of day after day after day of struggling to get out of bed, take a shower, brush my teeth, go to work, be around people, trying NOT contemplate ways to make it all just stop.  

I just typed that I wasn't going to be surprised by it this time around and then quickly deleted it, because as I sit here writing this, I guess it has surprised me once again.  I thought I was "safer" from the depression this time around, because I could feel it creeping in. And yet, maybe I am already in the midst of it.

The difference is that right now, in this very moment, I am STILL in the fight. I do not want to let it wash over me.  Well, I WANT it to.  But I also know that I can't. No matter how exhausted I am from the constant struggle to keep my head above water, I have to keep swimming. And even though it's hard and I'm very, very tired, I choose to put one foot in front of the other.  Today, I choose to fight another day. The alternative, trying to dig myself out of that abyss, it's not something I want to do again.

I don't know how to get through it. I want to avoid it altogether. And yet, that's not usually how it works with anything in life. Sometimes we have to walk through the really hard things before there is relief. It would be too easy and I would learn nothing if it were not incredibly difficult.  I wouldn't complain if it were a little LESS difficult, but I know that the freedom and growth will be worth the struggle.

So today, while I still can, I choose to fight. 


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