If You Struggle With Depression - I SEE YOU ♥
I do not know why depression affects some and not others. Or what makes it feel heavier for one and less for another. But it's real. It's individual. And I'm constantly looking for ways to heal myself.
My depression seems to have roots in religion. When a child lives their life in fear of hell and not being good enough, starting as a toddler, that anxiety and hopelessness attaches itself in the body and creates an automatic trauma response within the body and nervous system. If that's what my problem is, I do not know how to heal it. And I've tried so many things from meds to positive thoughts to therapy to exercise... It's BS that healing depression is as simple as getting more exercise, as some say...because my worst summer of depression I worked out 5-6 days a week for 1-2 hours a day. And it didn't crack the code - at. all.
The religious system I grew up in taught that my depression was a result of demonic oppression, guilt, or sin. However it came to me, it was spiritual, and I was responsible for my struggle. I had done something wrong. I was not reading my Bible enough or obeying my parents enough. Or maybe I had sin in my life...known or unknown. Or maybe Satan's minions were attacking me. But if I was struggling with depression, it was believed that I just wasn't trusting Jesus enough. I wasn't surrendered enough or wasn't living exactly right.
Deep inside I knew how hard I tried to serve God and obey my parents and live above reproach. So the fact that I struggled so hard to do be blameless and struggled so intensely with depression was so hopeless and defeating to me.
Almost every day for as long as I can remember, I typically wake up with a huge heaviness enveloping me. It surrounds my entire body. I feel it deep into my bones. I physically feel it in my brain. I don't know when it started for sure. But I know I started feeling it more frequently as a pre-teen. Prior to then, I have no memory of waking up and getting ready in the morning - at all...so I really do not know if I struggled with it then.
It's not that I'm not a "morning person." That's not it. I wake up easily. I pop out of bed. I want to have a good day. I want to have fun. I want to embrace what's in front of me. But as I wake up, something holds me back. Teaching ESL online forces me to get out of bed anyway. Many mornings, I push through a thick fog of struggling to want to talk or move, and put on a happy face and utilize energetic expressions and movements for my adorable Chinese students. I want to be there. But my mind and body do not want me there. If you've experienced this, you get it. If you haven't, it's difficult to grasp. It's not just the blues.
I've had lighter mornings. I know what it feels like to wake up not feeling oppressed all over my entire body. I know what it feels like to wake up, excited to face the day in my inner and physical being. I know what it feels like to not feel depressed, so to speak, if that's what it is - and I envy that ability...
It's not just the feeling of waking up and dragging because you're tired. It's deeper than that. It's another one of those things that you can't explain it - you can only know by experiencing it.
Most of my life the feeling has gone away after a couple hours of being awake. Some days it stays until late afternoon, and then it spontaneously lifts. Some days caffeine or sugar will relieve it. Some days it won't. Sometimes it stays all day until I go to sleep and then I randomly wake up the next day fine. Sometimes it stays for days, weeks, months, or even years before it lifts. It's unpredictable.
It's NOT a state of mind. It's more of a state of being. It's like a layer of skin that you can't just take off. You can't think it off. You can't wish it off.
You can "feed" it all the right things - positive thoughts, affirmations, "truth," community, whatever makes you happy - but it leaves when it wants to, and it returns when it wants to.
There's a lot of theories out there for what fixes depression. Reality is it's not a one-size-fits-all. Reality is that what worked yesterday may not work today. And what works today may not work tomorrow. And what's not working today - well, maybe tomorrow that will be the answer.
You can't just snap out of it. Sometimes laughter in the moment can bring relief for a few minutes...just like ice numbs the pain until the cold wears off. But then when the numbness of the laughter dies, the hard can return. Not always. Nothing is consistent. For why pain stays or why it goes. It's so fucking deep, idk if we can ever have answers for it.
But those of us who struggle through depression can know we are not alone. We can know that we are not our depression. That is not our identity. It may hold us. We may not be able to control how we feel. But we can keep trying. And on the days where we feel like we can't try anymore, it's ok to rest, but not to give up. Those are the days we needs friends just to be there, and say "I see you. I'm here." Those are the days that closeness, a hug, a cry, and a silent understanding mean so much more than feeling like you need to fix us.
How to fully get rid of it? I do not know. I do not know how to choose to wake up feeling lighter than heavier. There doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason to it - I can have an amazing day planned and still not control if I wake up feeling heavy or light.
But I will spend the rest of my life looking for the answer. And hopefully I will find it sooner than later :).
Lately I'm more light than heavy. Mornings are hard. But it typically doesn't stay all day. 1-2 days a week are hard. But it doesn't stay all week. I'll embrace it. It's so much better than the 24/7 I dealt with for 2 straight years prior to leaving religion. I feel like there's hope now. I feel like I can breathe.
If you're struggling...I see you. I'm here for you. Shoot me a message ♥.