What Depression is to Me

How about a super light and airy topic for a Tuesday morning, huh?! Hold on to your $!*$#* hats.

Rainbow

For as long as I can remember I’ve dealt with anxiety. I remember sitting in class in the fourth grade and feeling knots in my stomach and my hair standing on end when I would get called on or when I knew class was almost over or when I knew our whole class was about to leave the room. Once, my friend Hunter that sat across from me, told me that my voice changed when I would get called on in class. Fourth grade me was like wat. I’d find out later that it was because of anxiety.

In middle school, I would obsessively watch the clock and become a nervous wreck waiting for the bell to ring. As soon as it rang, the knots and the chills and the insane thoughts faded out. But 55 minutes later when the next bell was about to ring, they’d be back. (I was never saved by the bell, if you’re wondering.)

In high school, things were milder. The stomach knots and the insane thoughts were there, but by this time I’d acclimated. This was normal for me. Wasn’t it normal for everyone?

I remember being 16. (Doesn’t everyone?) Looking back, there were two major traumas. (Thanks, counseling, for pointing that out!) One, my best friend and I split up. Two, my grandmother being diagnosed with brain cancer. I lost the person that had been my sister for years and was losing someone I loved forever. When my grandmother passed away in October of 2006, I felt a shift. I never really felt myself after that. It was a tragic and horrific loss for my entire family that still hurts. I think that’s when my depression began.

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I didn’t figure out what anxiety was until I was probably 21 or 22. (That small town education, tho.) That I had it? Well, that was an even slower realization. The divorce forced me to find a counselor, and I’m glad it did. I literally could not function day to day because of the rampant anxious thoughts. I had to find someone to talk to or I would explode.

In counseling, it wasn’t like she was helping me through something, per se. She was letting me talk it out. Letting me open up and say things to her that I couldn’t, or didn’t know how to, say to my friends or family. She let me spill myself on the floor in front of her without judgment. It was messy and ugly and I threw up a lot of word vomit. But, like so many things in life, it turned into something beautiful: me. Myself. Finally, I felt like myself again. I could process thoughts and think clearly about things. Life. Love. Whatever. That was spring of 2013.

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It’s March of 2015. I’m dating a guy I fall madly for instantly, as I often do. (Classic amirite?) In July I moved to Dallas. I remember crying almost every day for a week or two because I was alone for the first time in my life. There was no one home when I got there.  Life wasn’t happening in my home without me like I was so accustomed to. Sure, Pepper was there. But she wasn’t watching TV or making dinner or doing dishes when I walked in the door. I’d honestly be creeped out if I walked in and she was doing any of those things. (#nothumbs) I was greeted with silence every day, accompanied by darkness with the time change which made things exponentially worse. Jon, my boyfriend at the time, lived 8 minutes away but was going through his own thing and wasn’t there all the time when I needed him.

I didn’t visit a church until December. Which was a big part of the problem, but I shut myself out. Things got better for a few weeks in July after I acclimated to Dallas, but that thin, grey veil never really went away. In fact, it got darker. Jon eventually moved to Austin for a new job and we split not long after that. This time, I was really alone. He was one of two people I knew when I moved here and now he was gone.

I’m over the breakup now, but the loneliness remains. It’s not that I don’t have friends or someone great I’m dating, it’s depression. And depression makes absolutely no sense. To the person it’s happening to or the people outside of it watching. Depression hits me at the oddest times: in the middle of a happy conversation, during a drink with someone, on a date, lying in bed drifting to sleep, watching a SnapChat story. Suddenly this curtain falls and that’s the end of the act for me. I could easily throw in the towel and call it a day no matter what time it is, but I have to, sometimes literally, force myself to stand up and move. To do something. And slowly, so slowly, that curtain peeks open and I’ll see a bit of light. And that bit of light sustains me and I make it grow. I have to.

A few nights ago a particularly hard curtain fell (no doubt attributed to my NYE shenanigans (HOLLA) and lack of sleep) and I remember talking to Jesus telling him how tired I was. How tired I am of saying how tired I am. How this has been the biggest looming shadow over my entire life. How it’s dictated my moods and decisions and actions forever. And I told Him how afraid I was that I’d feel like this forever. That there would never be a day I didn’t feel that thin, grey veil over me.

And to be honest, I still feel that way. I still get sad randomly. I still feel anxious. But I’m in counseling and I’m learning ways to fight it. I’m spilling myself out on the floor in front of a complete stranger so she can help me figure out how to pour myself back together in a better and healthier way.

Hey yo, it’s okay if you have depression. It took me 25 years to muster the courage to find a counselor. I don’t want to hide it anymore. Talking about it and laughing about it helps me. lol I get sad all the time and cry in random places IT’S SO HILARIOUS. Let’s start a real conversation about it. We shouldn’t have to be afraid to tell people we have depression or anxiety. Or hey, a mixed bag of both. JACKPOT.

 

Here’s to better days for all.

Love you.

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  • Malinda Rushing Cuellar

    Sorry Mel that you’re going through this. I’ve suffered for a long time with anxiety, ocd, and mild depression. I don’t handle stress well at all. In my 20’s I decided to get on medication because it wasn’t fair to myself or my family. The best decision that I made. I wasn’t going to rob my son’s childhood due to my issues. Even though I had no control over the issues. Life is so very short and goes by so very fast. I’m happy with the decisions that I made. Without my meds I would have missed out on some extremely happy events, beautiful vacations or messed up something great just because someone didn’t pick up their shoes. I’m always here if you need anything!!

    • I had no idea! I’m glad you made that decision. It really is a chemical/brain/body thing. Sometimes not everyone realizes that it’s not just an emotional thing, but a brain thing! Who knew. Love you, cousin!

  • Courtney Craig

    Thank you for your honesty. It is something I have battled since the age of 15 (I’m 33 now). MawMaw passed away in 2006 though. I filed for divorce in April, it was finalized in August, and she went to be with Jesus in October. It was a very rough year. I love how you describe it as popping up at the strangest of times. People who don’t suffer from it, don’t realize that you can be in the middle of conversation & your brain decides to do its own thing. It is a daily battle!! And…during the worst of times…it can be a minute to minute war!!
    Keep pushing, keep praying, keep living.
    I have often wondered if Paul’s ‘thorn’ was actually depression/anxiety!!!

    Love you!!!

    • Yes! Exactly! I can be having the greatest day and all of a sudden my brain’s like NOPE.

      And oops! I changed the year. 😀

      Love you!

  • So, your story about depression (up until church in December, because that’s when that’s mostly anecdotal parts of your own life where I don’t live in Dallas, har har har), I think we were living literally the same life growing up.

    I’ve had anxiety disorder my entire life–and the depression that comes with it, because of it, around it and after it–and I didn’t have any idea until I was about 22/23 and in my senior year of college. Your divorce climax in your story was my editor-in-chief of my university paper and still balancing 18 hours of school in my final semester was my story. I almost threw in the towel, dropped out, and moved to Washington to be with my then-fiance, nos husband, much earlier than planned .

    I went to counseling, and she just let me talk (like yours did) and everything started to fall into place and make sense. My crippling anxiety from just the stomach in knots waiting for something to happen even at a young age, to the social anxiety that (I’ve grown accustomed to but) makes it hard for me enjoy small talk or meet new people or be in large crowds where I’m expected to socialize, to dealing with any kind of change at all. It just all made sense. It was the most freeing thing I’ve ever felt to finally *know*, but the trick is how to turn your knowledge into something that doesn’t box you in.

    Yes, I have anxiety. Yes sometimes that can come with depression (although thankfully that isn’t as large in part anymore), but that doesn’t mean I have to walk around with a sign that says “I’m anxious” and only ever feel my anxiety. I can be whole, and I can be someone with and without my anxiety.

    • Jennifer,
      We’re practically twins! It was absolutely freeing to know that what I have is anxiety and that it’s not normal. That not everyone feels that way all the time.
      I love what you said. “I can be whole, and I can be someone with and without my anxiety.”
      Thank you so much for sharing that!!

      • You’re welcome. <3 Your blog always makes me smile, and I think it's important that we share stories like these for others who may not know, or may just be learning to cope.

        • 😀 I always enjoy your comments.

          And exactly! I think it’s important to share stories so those that don’t know can maybe learn more about it and what it’s like to deal with it.

  • AH Wilson

    Thank you for posting this. I just had a relationship to end largely in part to depression. His, not mine. Learning to love him was one of the more eye-opening experiences I have ever had. God used our time together as a tool to take away my pre and incorrectly conceived ideas about love and relationship. It caused me to love him more than I prepared myself and when he couldn’t handle it, it crushed me. Reading what you had to say opens a bit of the darkness that has covered this whole idea. Thank you for your bravery. I admire it, and appreciate it.

    • AH,

      Thank you so much for your comment. I am so sorry about your relationship, but praise God that he used that time to grow you and teach you more about Him. I’m so glad I could be a very small part of that. God is pretty cool! 🙂

      • AH Wilson

        Very cool! I am very thankful for His slivers of hope in different parts of hardships!
        Keep being real! It’s a blessing!