Depression is an oft used noun in today’s vernacular. It is also commonly misunderstood. To better comprehend the complexity and seriousness of depression, I am going to describe the mental illness and provide excerpts from my personal journal to frame understanding.
Lost and Hopeless
I wish I were somewhere else. I can’t be a good wife or parent. Ben, and the kids, would be better off without me. I feel like I’m living life in a fog–the only happiness I feel is filtered through the murky vapor of sadness…or whatever it is. I know it’s my fault I feel this way. I need to be stronger, should be stronger, but it’s hard when hope feels so far away. I can’t even see it on the horizon.
Some common symptoms of depression include overwhelming “hopelessness, helplessness, inappropriate guilt or regret, and self-hatred.” Depressed people exhibit a constant low mood and often lose their ability to experience happiness with activities that they used to enjoy. (Source: Wikipedia.)
I have never contemplated suicide, but I have had a few periods in my life–as a teenager, a sophomore in college, and after this miscarriage–that I convinced myself the world, and my family, would be better off without me.
I Am Grateful, Dang It!
I have so many blessings in my life: Beautiful children, an amazing husband, warm shelter, delicious food, and supportive family members. Yet I know that I’m not worthy of them. The negativity that surrounds my thoughts is proof of what an ungrateful wretch I have become. I can hardly say a kind word to my husband, let alone give him a compliment; my eyes are constantly flashing with anger over the little things my kids do that are a normal part of their development; I avoid my friends because I am sure they notice how deficient I am in so many areas.
A common misconception is that a clinically depressed person can snap out of it if they try to develop a more grateful attitude, pray more, or have more faith. This is false. A depressed person is already hard on themselves. They recognize how great everything is around them, but they cannot bring their mood up. It’s a brain thing.
I remember looking at myself, as if from above, and shaking my head. Obviously, I told myself, I am unfaithful. Worthless. With these phrases incessantly going through my mind, I had trouble sleeping, eating, and facing the world. I would wake up and cry knowing that I had to parent my kids that day; me, an awful mother, would be alone with them. A miserable place, indeed…*
*After I finished writing this post, I saw how much I had written** and deemed it necessary to break it up into two more manageable posts. I will post part two sometime next week.
**Seriously, this took quite a bit out of me so you had better appreciate it. Frankly, if I don’t get like 1000 comments I will probably never write again.
Image courtesy of FreeImages.