Let's Talk About Depression: A Birthday Turned Breakdown, Ambitions to Run 26 Miles, and Speaking Your Truth, No Matter Who's Listening
I cup the sunshine in my hands, tilting my fingers and palms forward and back while watching the shadows dance across my skin.
It's the day after my birthday, I'm sporting puffy eyes and a tired and slow-moving demeanor. Thoughts are sluggish, each movement was taken with deliberate and careful consideration, while small practices of self-love stand in stark contrast to yesterday's affairs.
Though I know I'm not going to be able to make sense of all this just yet, I knew from the moment tears started pouring down my face, that I would start this process by writing about the heaviness that posted up in my mind that day. For instance. Where did it come from? Was it an accumulation of present and past events all meeting at once? Maybe the expectations I've put on myself for the future, or simply, the reflections, both positive and more trying, that are paired with having taken another trip around the sun.
With being a year older - a year wiser?
No, that I do not believe is paired with age, but rather, how you've chosen to live your life, no matter the number of years. So what was it? What drew me so far from happiness that I could scarcely breathe, let alone try and move a thought through my head that wasn't laced with fear, doubt, worry, and pain.
Part of its uneasiness wasn't the unfamiliarity of it, but rather, the fact that I had been there many times before, and despite the unusual circumstances that have taken place these past couple months, I've managed to keep my head somewhat above water.
Until now - one could say it was bound to happen.
It's growing dark now, the sky a soft yellow, I wrap a blanket around my legs and feet, feeling the cold of the night take its place. It's been since the beginning of October that I last heard my voice, now nothing more than a whisper, on a good day.
Nerve pain and spasms seize my neck, swelling wraps around my collarbone, I can feel every sip of water reluctantly slide down my throat, a hill sends me into a state of panic, body keeling over; I'm desperate for a full breath.
This last September, I told myself that I would run/walk 26 miles for my 26th birthday.
Ambitious, I know, but that's where I was at.
That's how good I felt.
Before moving forward with this, I feel the need to pause here for a moment.
I keep finding myself wanting to wander as far as I can from the words on this page - the ones that consume my mind. Though my birthday has come and gone, and the initial doom and gloom with it, that feeling doesn't go away simply because time has passed.
I mention the above, the feelings that are residing deep in my veins (quite literally), as an entry point to something much more involved.
With that said, I'd like to talk about depression.
It's never been a thing of the past, something I have "overcome," looking back on its cold interior with the feeling of accomplishment. Rather, it's always close by, just not close enough to warm itself by the fire. I don't purposefully keep it here, but a part of me feels empowered by its presence, humbled even, knowing that though it's not my story, it definitely plays a significant role in why I'm here right now, talking about the very thing that scares me most.
A moment where it's hand is indeed on my shoulder.
Though cold, angry, sharp, and smothered in doubt and guilt, I do not feel the urge to back down.
To run the other way. "Why is that," I think. Why is it that the very thing that brings me to my knees, my stomach, tears washing the floor, has decided to stoke the fire I've tried so desperately to keep it away from? Tempting me with all of its pent-up negativity. Why is it that instead of either running to it or as far away as I can, I'm still here, listening and more curious than ever to find out about the role it has decided to play in my life? No, not a pretty one, but one that is all too present.
Depression, can we talk about it without wincing? Without you breaking eye contact to fiddle with the zipper on your jacket?
I've certainly never been able to do that, at least not until now, despite it always being so close. So ready to leap at any sign of vulnerability. You see, we often like to blanket things in something sweet, in a rosy pink picture of an alternative that isn't so difficult to wrap our minds around. Depression, but how can you be depressed? You've got a family that loves you, a home with heat and comfort, friends that bend over backward to let you know they are there for you, and a dog, a boyfriend - the very recipe for happiness!
This is when the guilt slips in, "you're right," I think, "it's probably just a spell of sadness. Afterall, real depression doesn't happen to people like me. People who are lucky enough to be surrounded by love."
Dare I defy this statement? Dare I say that depression can happen to anyone, no matter who you are, where you come from, how you look, and the way you present yourself to the outside world? Given just enough room, it can slip it, tricking you into thinking, "no, it can't be happening to me. I just won't bring it up.
It must be something else.
It will pass.
I will get over it."
In some cases it's quite possible that it will pass, but in other cases, in scenarios like the one I mentioned before. Where something happens, something big, and you still can't seem to give yourself the room you need to process and work through it? That's when the bandaid falls off, and instead of a scar, you find a festering wound.
That's when we might want to take a look at all sides of the scenario.
At the possibility that pain is pain no matter the package it arrives in.
That often, the push through, don't show weakness, never stop moving, going, doing - being better than you are now, can sometimes work against you. Can sometimes leave the door open just enough, and for long enough, that depression finds a way in.
And maybe it's not depression, maybe its something else, another thing we'd rather not talk about, but I want to let you know that it's ok.
That you can talk about it. In moments like this, moments when I know that what I'm dealing with takes more than a good nights sleep, things don't have to be painted over with that rosy hue, they can be as is. They can be hard, raw, painful, and ugly. They can be wrapped around you so tightly and still there is hope for you to find a way through.
A way to know how to sit with it when it arises. When listening and believing in yourself gives you the power that you need to reach out for help, support, learning to once again, know your worth and trust that depression does not make you an under-equipped person, but rather, weathered and strong.
Brave, resilient, honest, humble, and sturdy enough to stand your ground.
To write your story, however you see fit.
And to speak your truth, no matter how many people choose to listen.
To hear what you have to say