What depression looks like for me

A day doesn’t go by when I’m not thinking about my feelings, my mood, my depression. Actually, it’s rare for an hour to go by when I’m not thinking about my feelings, my mood, my depression. I wonder what it would feel like to not think about them – It’s happened before. I know what good feels like. But on days like today, it’s impossible to draw in those memories.

Dr Claire Weekes says its a result of sensitisation. We have experienced the trauma of “bad”, “failure”, not doing what we promised we would do, not living the life we expected, so much over the years that we can’t imagine that things will ever change. I look to my history, and I know that this is not new, I know it will pass, but that doesn’t help today, because I don’t know when it will pass. It could be hours, days, months. It’s frightening and I’m frightened.

I notice that my leggings are full of holes along the inner seams and I blame that on weight. I’ve got fat over the last few years after I started drinking. I’ve stopped drinking now, mostly, and I’ve lost weight, but the seams are still full of holes.

My loneliness is palpable, and yet I wouldn’t have it any other way. The weight of people is overwhelming. I barely manage light communication on social media with my curly-haired groups, my Human Design groups. It’s all surface. I couldn’t imagine going deeper. It feels painful, knowing how friendships all end, eventually, for me, anyway.

I wish I were bipolar, but I’m actually unipolar. This means I don’t experience the highs, just the lows. So if there were a mid-level, I sit below it at all times in one way or another. I sometimes experience the highs – but only the bad ones. I’ve stopped getting those lovely, juicy highs when I feel I can do anything. Those were the ones when I got more done. But I also drank, was abusive, difficult to be with. Instead, now, I’m that person who is always a downer. The one who just can’t see the light. I’m the “yeah, but” person, and nobody wants to be around that person. Not even that person.

I light candles every day. I listened to the Nocturne podcast a couple of months ago called “The Blue Hour”, about Tromsø, a city in Norway that experiences two months of darkness that they call the “Polar Night”. Importantly, research shows that people in Tromsø are not depressed and suicidal during this time as you would expect, despite the lack of sun. They talked about the rituals they create to make the darkness a pleasure, like lighting candles. Have a listen. Nocturne is one of my favourite podcasts.

I figured I could do that. Maybe I could turn my SAD around by copying some of the rituals that Tromsø-nians follow. So I make my own candles, which is my way of meditating without the boredom of actually meditating, and I light them. They’re beautiful. And yet here I am.

There’s a lot of guilt around my depression. I have a life, after all, a business, a husband, a house, mortgages, staff. I wonder what I would do if I didn’t have to do anything. What would nothing look like? Would I just sit and watch TV? After watching 8 seasons of Game of Thrones in two weeks, I can honestly say that I would not sit and watch TV all day if I didn’t have to do anything.

Yesterday, my friend asked me to describe my ideal day. You know, if there were no time or money constraints, I could not fail, I could just do whatever I want. I could not come up with a single thing.

And this, my friends, is what depression looks like for me. I have no interest, but then I worry about the passage of time, and what will happen if I don’t live a life of wonder. I am apathetic, and also pathetic. People tell me that I’m wonderful, but I know it’s just pap. They don’t know. They tell me I’m brave. Because I’m stupid enough to say these things publicly? There’s nothing brave about complaining. Brave is saving people. This is not brave. This is whining. So let’s get back into it.

So if I did not have to do anything, and could do anything I wanted, what would I do? Would I sew? Embroider? Make more candles? Start a podcast? Write a book? Plan meals? Tend to the garden? And then I think, why? Why would I do these things? Do any of these things spark joy?

My friend is helping me block out my time so I don’t feel so overwhelmed by the crush of daily tasks so I can look at goals. I left our meeting feeling like there was light, despite having no goals. And then, today, I feel overwhelmed by the crush of tasks and I wonder how everyone else in the goddamned universe does it? How do you get through the day and the overwhelm, the crush of tasks?

I have a hundred tasks to do, probably more, and I don’t want to do any of them. I worry what it will mean for the others in my life who have to pick up the slack. I worry, and then I just don’t do those things anyway.

I don’t reach out for help. I’ve stopped seeing my psychiatrist, stopped seeing all but one counsellor, stopped talking to Jeff about it because he is lightness and I am the dark. If I’m the Polar Night, Jeff is the Aurora Borealis.

Sometimes I wish a great flood would destroy everything so that we would all be laid bare, starting from scratch, surviving, at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid.

Can you imagine? But then I wonder how I would feel flying economy again and the thought passes. And there’s the funny. She ends it with a gag, so that anyone who reads this will know that I can see the humour in it all.

And then I get ready to hit “publish” on this post, and I ask myself if I’ll share it on Facebook and I wonder why I have to do that. Is it because if I don’t then I’m truly alone? If nobody reads this blog post, what will it mean, for me?