I’ve been a little down lately. Shocker. I really hate depression. I can be doing everything right: all my tips and techniques at full strength and it still wipes me out.
This last bout was a bit scary. Scary in that I didn’t sit in my room and cry for days on end (I call that wet depression) but in that I got hard, brittle, and careless. It was dry depression. Wet depression is embarrassing and debilitating. Dry depression is apathetic and and potentially cruel. As much as I don’t trust my brain during wet depressive episodes, I am even more distrustful and fearful of my brain when I’m in a dry depressive episode. Dry depression is what I always had before the break up. Wet depression didn’t start until after that, so to me it’s a good thing? I’m back to how I was before – I think? At least, how I was always before. Now I have depressive episodes, but depression is not my regular life anymore, praise Jesus!
Of course, it’s always helpful to know the causes. In this case it was the entire trifecta: I got sick last week and didn’t take care of my physical self, there was my ol’ buddy hormonal fluctuations playing in the background, and I spiritually led a sortie into enemy territory.
It was also scary because this time it almost cost me my mentor. She’s the one who has held onto me for the last eight months through all the darkest valleys but this one almost snatched her away. I avoided her all week, would only talk small talk and shallow subjects. By yesterday I was trying to figure out how to ask for help but I couldn’t figure it out without lashing out at her. I know that I am hurt, but I don’t want to hurt other people because I’m in pain. I still caused her pain and I am deeply sorry for it and I have apologized. She felt like a failure because she didn’t know what to do or say to help me. She told me I should move on from her and find a different mentor.
For some reason, her saying that made me mad and made me want to fight for her. Before, I was fighting her – trying to push her away. I guess I’m like a toddler who will push her food away until someone tries to take it. Then it’s mine and I’ll scream at you until you give it back. Oh, I am so thankful for God’s unending patience and grace with me.
After we had mostly talked about the ugly that was going on inside my brain and the darkness had receded a bit my mentor asked what it was like, to be depressed and unable to not be depressed.
I told her it was like a blanket is thrown over me. It’s a big, fuzzy, dark blanket and very heavy. Everything is muffled and I can’t see the truth that’s right outside the blanket. It’s thick and suffocating under the blanket. I can hear what’s being said around me, but it’s muted and I can’t believe it. Someone can stand outside the blanket and say “come out! You’ll be able to breathe out here! The truth is out here!” but sometimes I cannot come out by myself. They can even try to pull the blanket off me, but there’s another problem.
This feels like a shameful admission: sometimes I hold the blanket down. Sometimes I want to be depressed and stay depressed. Because as awful as the blanket is, it’s familiar. It’s almost safe, in a way. I don’t have to believe any inconvenient truths or do anything scary or out of my comfort zone. Sure, the blanket is killing me, but I’ve been under the blanket for the majority of my life. I know it and I don’t have to be brave if I stay under the blanket.
But if someone crawls under the blanket with me; if they say “what’s it like in here? What’s going on inside your brain?” I’ll let them lift up the corner to peek under the blanket. After all, if they care enough to ask, well, they must really care. Anyone can stand outside the blanket and tell me what to do, or try to pull it off of me. But the person who is willing to get down on their hands and knees and come into the darkness with me? To find out what is really going on? That person is special and I will listen to them. I will let them see what it’s like under the blanket and maybe together we can lift the blanket off and throw it into a corner. Not everybody can do that, even people who love me and really care about me, because sometimes they are under their own blanket, or maybe they just can’t get down on their hands and knees. I am so thankful that I have a person who is willing and able to do that for me, even if it takes us a while to figure out how to get the blanket off me.
Maybe you’re the person under the blanket, struggling to breathe, trying to figure out a way to get out from under the blanket. If you’re especially fortunate maybe you have a person who is willing to come under the blanket with you and help you lift it off. If all you have is people standing around trying to pull the blanket off, or telling you what to do, it may help to lift a corner and say, “Can you please come in here and help me? This is what it’s like for me under the blanket.”
If you’re the person standing outside the blanket and it’s covering someone you love and you know that they’re struggling and you just don’t know what to do, try getting on your hands and knees next to them and saying “hey, can I come in? What’s it like under there?” It won’t be easy, just letting you know, but you may just save their life.