A friend asked me, a couple of weeks ago, "Do you ever let yourself just be sad for a while?" It's a good question, and I am blessed to have the kinds of friends who can and will ask these types of questions.
The short answer is, yes. I do let myself be sad sometimes.
The long answer is this:
I can usually tell the difference between being sad and starting a depressive episode. Sadness is a viable emotion. Even when there is no logical reason for feeling down, normal people can still feel sad. Depression, on the other hand, is not a viable emotion. Depression is apathy + a black pit of despair + anger at nothing and everything + a constant pointlessness.
Depression, in my life, shows up first as "Why bother?"
The floor is dirty again, I should clean it, but... Why bother?
The dog needs a bath. I should bathe him, but... Why bother?
Quickly it progresses to: It's time to get up and start our day, but... Why bother?
Sylvia Plath explained it this way, “It seemed silly to wash one day when I would only have to wash again the next. It made me tired just to think of it.”
We've made it to the why get out of bed stage, as of today. I was going to see my doctor but he is out of the office. I will go tomorrow. Really, this is quite mild, because I am still on antidepressants. Wait, you can get depressed while taking antidepressants? You can if you're me. I've been blessed with the med I'm currently taking. It has worked for an entire year. Most work for about 6-8 months. For me, at least. My psychiatrist older brother says ADs are only meant to work for 1-2 years. Not a big deal for a person with mild or situational depression. For someone like me, who inherited severe chronic depression, that really really sucks.
I've been on most available ADs by this point in my life. A few did nothing at all to help and one helped a little too well (I want to not feel depressed, but I'd still like to be able to feel happiness and sadness etc...). Trying a new medicine means taking a chance on it not working. Then we have to try another. I don't like that. I don't like taking the drugs to begin with and I certainly don't like bouncing between them. It's Russian Roulette with side effects. The med I am on right now has only one side effect. It makes me sleepy. I take it before bed. I have taken meds that make me feel perpetually inebriated, unable to cry when something really is sad, and even one that blacked out the writing part of my brain. I refuse to stay on a med that keeps me from writing.
So, here I am, being transparent with you. Don't go getting worried though. Like I said, this is a mild episode. I am not suicidal or thinking of becoming a cutter or turning to drugs and alcohol. I'm even out of the bed and writing this blog. I will see my doctor and do what I need to do to get better again. I decided to write this because many of you may suffer the same thing or know someone else affected. Maybe this will be helpful to you. I hope so.
Some other depression quotes I find helpful in explaining myself to others:
“Sadness is more or less like a head cold - with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.” ― Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees
“I was so scared to give up depression, fearing that somehow the worst part of me was actually all of me. ” ― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation
“I wasn't just the madwoman in the attic--I was the attic itself. The past was all over me, all under me, all inside me.” ― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation
“I want to explain how exhausted I am. Even in my dreams. How I wake up tired. How I’m being drowned by some kind of black wave.” ― Elizabeth Wurtzel