For me, depression has been a parasitic disease. It grips my neck with razor-sharp teeth and breathes heavy snarls in my ear. It plays Shrink and Regrow, almost disappearing entirely so that I forget it's there. Then it swells back up, thick and engorged like a giant mosquito drunk on my lifeblood.
Depression is an embarrassing parasite. I look around my home, my beautiful children, the things I have that so many others do without, my loving family, my network of caring friends. The shame of the disease adds up with many other negative emotions that float around me like a cloud of pollution: Self-loathing. Disappointment. Frustration. Anger. Grief. I often find it hard to breathe. Or, I just stop caring altogether. Apathy is embarrassing, too, so I pretend I care deeply and passionately about whatever it is I am supposed to care about.
"Fake it til you make it." I can't quite understand this philosophy. Not that I haven't tried it extensively. Feeling low? Just smile and be uplifted! Frustrated at the never-ending cycle? Whistle while you work! Don't feel like having sex with your spouse? Just say yes and go with the flow until it's all wonderful! I'd throw up at the saccharine optimism, but I really hate throwing up. I prefer to sneer with disdain, wrinkling the left side of nose and almost-smiling with sarcasm. Boy, I love who I have become. I've faked it more times than I can count, and I still haven't made anything that I can tell.
Self-loathing. That's the feeling that I know what I am supposed to be but I just can't quite swallow it into existence. Self-loathing settles like dust in that place in me that just doesn't understand how to actually make anything happen. I'm supposed to be happy. I don't know how. Self-loathing. I'm supposed to be loving, but I feel nothing. Self-loathing. I'm supposed to work hard, but I'm lazy. Self-loathing. I'm supposed to... but....
I'm just a pile of gritty, grainy dust molecules. Gross and worthless. Wallowing in my own misery, hating myself for wallowing in my own misery.
Psychology suggests that expectation is the leading cause of disappointment. I feel about that similarly as I do about "fake it until you make it" which is to say, I hate it. I hate it because I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed that I'm not doing more with my life, that I'm not a missionary in another country or doing life-changing work in my community, or creating something of intrinsic value or... something. I'm disappointed that being married is so difficult, and that I don't know if I'm parenting well at all because my children seem rather soft and spoiled. I'm mostly disappointed that I don't enjoy life, living, barely at all. I feel perfectly justified in expecting that things should be better than what they are right now, but I'm disappointed that I don't even know where to begin to make changes.
Ignorance is frustrating. I don't know what to do, and I don't know where to find the answers. I look for answers, but I don't understand them. I'm frustrated that I can't seem to pull myself together. Frustration and anger are conjoined twins vying for the same vital organs. They twist the stomach and harden into a lump in the chest cavity. I can't tell where one ends and the other begins. They just are.
Then, of course, there's the grief. Grief first stutters and struggles to convey itself. Then it settles into a sadness that never truly goes away. Grief for things lost. People. People who died, or people who moved away, or people who simply floated out my my life the same way they seemed to float in. No matter where they went, they are gone, and their absences are wounds stitched closed and scarred over. I grieve for lost ideals and hopes that never surfaced. I grieve for beliefs that proved untrue. Grief is forever a collar around my neck that I feel when I try to stray farther than my chains allow. I cannot follow the things lost.
I was once wild and untamed. I still have echoes of my former determination, so I will take my antidepressant, and swallow some vitamins, and do a few exercises to release endorphin. I will read the self-help books and other books for enjoyment. I'll play with my children and smile at my husband and go to church. I'll do my yoga breathing and call my mother. I'll do the laundry and cook dinner and vacuum the living room floor, over and over. I'll scratch at that parasite, and hold out hope that at some point in my life I will find the answers I seek.
Oh, and today is my birthday. Happy birthday to me.