NSPW13, Depression, and HOPE;

In my experience, there is nothing more defeating  than the moment that you realize that all hope is gone and nothing seems quite worth it anymore.

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, and this is an area that strikes a personal chord with me since depression has been my nearly life-long battle.

So, yes, I have  made it through my share of cases of bad depression. Yes, I still get depressed. Yes, I’ve been suicidal.  Yes, I’m glad to be alive today.

No, I’m not proud or happy to be alive everyday.

Shit got real kinda quick, eh?

I’ve spent the last 4+ years in recovery from an epic meltdown following my first ‘real heartbreak’ and my first corporate layoff.  When shit hit the fan, I tried to hang on, but one day I just stopped caring about myself and did everything I could to sabotage anything good in my life because deep down, I didn’t feel I deserved it.

I eventually sought help. I fought. I won that battle. I moved on.

I won’t sit here and spit some positive bullshit about how I overcame extreme depression over 4 years ago and that life has been a grand experience ever since.

It hasn’t been.

In fact, this year has been the absolute most difficult year I have ever experienced.  I took a nose dive right back to that dark place following the recent death of my grandmother, the ending of a few of my closest friendships and relationships, my dad moving away, and an intense professional burnout that left me working 90+ hours a week. Then there’s the insomnia.

OMG LIFE, WTF.

The good news is that I’m dealing with everything the best that I am able. I get out of bed every single day. I go to work. I come home. I pay my bills. I go to bed. In between I maintain healthy relationships. Everything is okay. Sometimes.

Sometimes I’m feeling happy.

Sometimes I am not feeling happy. I’ve overcome depression, but I still fight a daily battle with it.

Days seem long. Nights seem longer.  I get angry. I get scared. I need to spend time alone. I wonder if it’s ever going to end. But somehow, when I am at the end of my rope, just when I’m about to stay in bed all day and cry, just when giving up seems like a possibility, just when it seems hopeless is when out of nowhere, an authentically good day comes and reminds me how good it feels to feel…well, good.

The biggest thing I’ve learned over the last 10 years as I’ve gone from doctor to therapist to pharmacist to group counseling is that everyone suffers differently and struggle looks different on everyone. Even the happiest, cheeriest person can have buried scars and hidden demons. While some wear the feelings on their sleeves, I wear mine under layers upon layers of tough-exterior fabric that keeps people from knowing my vulnerabilities and insecurities. Just because you can’t see the pain on someone’s face doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.

Any sort of mental condition or when someone is emotionally unwell, it  is often looked at as a sign of weakness. In my opinion, people who have made it through depression and/or wake up and choose to fight the storm rather than let it overtake them are some of the strongest people in existence. I know first hand how difficult it is to come out from the safety of your bed and face the harsh truth that ‘this is your life’. It’s nearly fucking impossible to put one foot in front of the other some days. It’s hard, but I do it. You do it. We do it.

There’s no cure-all to depression or wanting to end the pain. I can’t tell you how to mend your broken heart. I can’t tell you where to find $5,000 to pay your back mortgage. I can’t tell you how to change your life.  I don’t even know how to explain how I did it other than that it takes radical, blind, ridiculously crazy hope. Hoping against all odds that someday, somehow, someway, things will change, and you’ll just feel okay again, and patiently waiting for that one day and knowing that more good days will follow it.

If you’re like me, and you’re a seeing is believing kind of person, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Every morning, I write the word “HOPE;” on a piece of paper. I carry it with me in my pocket. Or in my purse. Or in my bra. True Story.

The “;” at the end of the HOPE; is not a typo  The semi-colon is what I use to define a moment where it would make sense to end it, (.) but I choose to keep going (,).   A period is an ending. A comma shows a continuum.

Some days I look at this paper about 40 times. Others I forget it’s there and it goes through my washing machine and pisses me off because it gets all over all of my dark clothes. But knowing that the HOPE; is there, as a physical thing, makes it a little easier to believe in- and when life sucks as bad as it does sometimes, having something to believe in is incredible.

I’m still here. And I’m glad you are too.

 

Lifeaversary | 2 |To Sir With Love

That’s me and my dad over there. Cute, right?

My dad is the furthest thing from perfect. He’s made mistakes. Big ones. I’ve made mistakes. Big ones. But today isn’t about that. Not at all.

Exactly 2 years ago, August 3rd, 2009 was a day that I will never forget.

I want to say that I remember the day vividly, but I don’t. I do remember sitting on my dad’s sofa at 9PM at night and crying very hard.

After listening to me sob for hours, my dad came over, sat next to me, and buried his head in his hands.

“I’m sorry”, he said.

I couldn’t even muster up the breath to ask him why he was sorry. I just looked at him with what I’m sure was puffy red eyes.He kind of knew what I wanted to know.

“I’m sorry you’re hurting so badly. Am I a bad dad?”

Many of you only know my father from random stories about vibrators and personal lubricant in his hair. He’s more than that. He’s street smart, but not book smart. I have to buy cards with easy to read words so that he won’t be embarrassed that he can’t read it.  I have to read the menu for him. He knows I know he can’t read, but it goes unspoken. I kind of just know when he needs me to read a story, a letter, or a greeting card for him.

When my dad asked me if he was a bad father, I remember looking at him with the tears in his eyes, and all I could do was say “I’m sorry. I’m so broken. Why am I so broken?”

He didn’t have an answer for me. I assumed his decision to get up and walk away meant that he was admitting that I was broken, but he just didn’t have an explanation of why.  After a few hours of trembling, fever, and uncontrollable sobbing, I calmed down enough to walk upstairs to get a shower.

After I got out I walked past my father’s room. He called me in, and I sat on the end of his bed. My dad and I have a few little bonding experiences we share, including the rolling of coins into paper wrappers. He had a pile of coins on his bed, and we sat there for about an hour, in silence. He could have made small talk, but he just knew that silence was all I needed.

When the last coin was rolled, I tapped his hand and said goodnight. He held onto my hand when I touched it, and said the words that I remember everyday:

“If you go, I won’t let you go alone. I’m coming too. I promise.”

I never told my dad about the thoughts that were spinning inside of my head. I never told him how truly unloved, messed up, and worthless I felt. I never told him that I just wanted the pain to stop and I was exploring options from in-patient therapy, to more extreme solutions.

I didn’t have to say a word, but he just knew.

He might not know how to read a book, a menu, or a piece of mail, but he knew the thing that I was scared of saying, thinking, and believing.

After that comment from my dad, I submitted an anonymous secret to Brandy’s Secret Project.

2 years ago today. My dad made a promise to me that he’s kept. No matter where I go, I’m not alone. He can rest assured that I won’t ever be going very far away.  And if I do, I’ll send a postcard. No matter where I go, I will always, always come back home.

Today is my life-a-versary. Send gifts.

And even though my Dad won’t be reading this post ever, I still will be playing this song in his honor tonight. (I know. It’s Glee. But so perfect. Give a listen if you want a little bit of heart-filled-with-joy in your day!)

To Sir, With Love