Depression is a tricky disorder. It is sneaky. It lurks and it waits, and then it ever so quietly, starts whispering in your ear. So quietly at first, that you don’t even realise what is happening. You can’t do that. You’re lazy. No one cares.
It chips away at you… bit by bit, until suddenly you’re laying awake in bed at night googling, “Am I lazy or depressed?” or at least, that’s what I was doing. I suspect that I have had recurrent bouts of depression since I was a child, but I didn’t know what it was then, and neither did my parents. I knew I had GAD long before it was officially diagnosed. But depression? I didn’t think that was me. First of all, my life is good. Excellent, really. I have nothing to be depressed about. There are people out there that have legitimate reasons to be depressed. I’m an optimist. How can an optimist be depressed? I mean, we’re talking make-you-sick, turn-down-the-perky optimistic. They can’t. Plus, I can still go to work, feel joy, I don’t cry… etc. etc. You’re just looking for attention.
I had accepted that I would always have a low grade level of depression (dysthymia), again, long before it was officially diagnosed. But in 2012, when my anxiety and depression was so severe that it was significantly affecting my life, a psychiatrist diagnosed me with major depression. I remember stopping him and saying, “Excuse me? I can’t be depressed.” He chuckled and said, “I know you think you aren’t- but when I listen to you talk, I think, ‘Wow, that is a sad girl’.” I think I just stared at him open-mouthed. And then I remembered that depression doesn’t pick and choose people based on difficult life circumstances- it’s so much more complex than that. My brain doesn’t make enough serotonin. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I’ve been dealing with depression since childhood. I had no idea.
The anxiety I know well. The tight chest. The sleepless nights. The circling of thoughts. The panic. Yes, the anxiety doesn’t try to hide or beat me down unnoticed. I know it’s there. I can feel it. When I listen to myself talk, I hear a girl who is afraid of everything and nothing. I am afraid of the unknown.
But depression? I don’t see it coming at all. Partly because on difficult days, the optimist in me says, “One more day, sweetie. One more day. Tomorrow things will be better.” I tell myself that every day, and this is where I think my optimism is also my Achilles heel. I don’t ask for help until I’m severely depressed, because I think that if I just wait one more day, I’ll be fine. Besides, I don’t want to waste anyone’s time if I’m fine. And then suddenly, I start finding myself wondering why it’s so hard to make my son a peanut butter and jam sandwich. I notice that I haven’t felt hungry in a while, but I keep eating anyway. I see all the things I *should* be doing, but can’t, and I call myself lazy. I don’t want to be lazy- but I can barely muster the energy to brush my teeth some days. So the morning after I laid awake all night trying to figure out if I was in fact lazy, or if I was depressed again, I booked an appointment with my counselor.
Then I worried until our appointment that I was wasting her time.
Ahhh, the combination of anxiety and depression. The never ending cycle.
And here I go again, dragging myself out of the muck, fighting to get my head above water once again. But I keep fighting. And you can too. You are not alone.