I woke up this morning with a headache and I’m pretty sure it’s the same headache I had yesterday. I’m also pretty sure that it’s not my usual run-of-the-mill headache. No, this one is different, and I know what it means.
It means that my depression is starting to resurface.
It means that my mood is starting to slip the way paint slides down a page, slowly yet steady. It means that I better look into my invisible yet handy resource bag stat and pull out some tools I can use to get through what’s coming.
These depression-headaches refuse to give way to any kind of warding. No amount of pills or essential oils or sleep can stave off what’s coming.
As I feel my depression inching its way up like a caterpillar climbs a tree, I know what it’s looking for. It’s looking for food and it knows where to find it.
This isn’t anything I’m not used to, however, my anxiety has been in the front seat for a while now so this is a pretty hard kick in the gut, especially when things have been pretty steady as of late.
While I’ve had my usual anxiety hanging around like the last leaf on a tree that refuses to break off before winter, it hasn’t felt debilitating in a while. Not only that, I’ve been feeling good about my writing and making progress in my future plans. To add to the good list, my son is in school, my marriage is healthy, and I’m back at work.
What’s there to be depressed about?
But you see, that’s the thing about depression. It’s not about what’s outside, it’s about what’s inside.
It’s about what’s going on inside the mind. Depression takes the form of sweatpants and tears. It loves to have you immobile and dwelling. However, don’t be fooled that this is depression’s only face. Depression can also mask itself as someone at a masquerade ball. It’s known to present itself in business-casual attire and smiles. It also loves to get you outside in the real world while tormenting your mind. (I believe the latter is one of depression’s favourite torture techniques.)
Depression is sneaky. It knows the secrets and tricks, and it cuts corners wherever it can to make itself present. It gets irritated when it’s been locked up for too long and when it finally breaks free, it can feel like your world is crashing down.
My depression tries to convince me that I’m failing, and sometimes it succeeds.
“You’re failing in writing. See? Another rejection.”
“You’re failing in life, in parenting, in your marriage, in your career…”
I know those things aren’t true, but in that dreadful moment when the battle is on, it’s hard to ignore the voices. It’s hard to stay strong and keep your sword held high.
It’s hard to keep fighting.
The thing I’ve learned throughout all my years with this disease is that depression wants you to keep fighting because as long as you fight, it gets to stay around. What it doesn’t know – or refuses to acknowledge – is that all this fighting has made me a beast and completely in tune with its tactics.
Yes, it beats me down and some days are harder than others, but I’ve got backup. I’ve got my medication and my family and my friends and me.
I’ve got me.
I’ve got will and drive and strength. I’m determined to not allow the inner voices to control my life. I’m adamant about taking over and pushing those pesky negatives back to the murky swamp they came out of.
I know I’ll shake out of it, I always do. There’s no reason for alarm, I’ll be okay.
But for now, I’m a little stuck.
For more on Depression and Mental Health, visit: It’s Time We Start Talking and End the Stigma Surrounding Suicide