What depression feels like
Depression feels like a rock slowly sinking to the bottom of a dark lake. The light gets further and further away, water fills my ears, I feel heavier and heavier--almost as if I'm sinking into a deep, long sleep. It's a slow drowning.
The first stage of drowning finds me thrashing about, desperately trying to change things up, snap myself out of it. A new hair-cut?! A new outfit, maybe?! A long day spent walking the beach?! A new diet! A new book to read!
If these things work and I'm able to pull myself out of the funk, then I know it's not true depression. It's a bad mood, maybe. Or a bad day. Sleep deprivation, perhaps. In other words, the depression passes.
But when these things don't work, the real drowning begins. I am increasingly tired. I feel like I can't get out of bed. I take multiple naps. I lay on the couch. I stop answering the phone. I sink deeper into the darkness.
The third stage for me is a feeling of numbness. I stop caring. It's not even a choice, really. I simply can't feel. I feel thick and heavy, like I'm dragging a two hundred pound ball and chain around my house. I refuse outings. I lose my appetite. I cry and cry and cry and cry.
Sometimes, in order to feel again--I cut myself. It's almost like pinching yourself to come out of a bad dream. I'm trying to wake up from the depression. I'm not trying to hurt myself so much as trying to come back to life. Pain reminds me that I'm alive. It's better than the suffocating numbness.
After coming home from Bolivia, I entered the first stage of depression. I was tired, emotionally spent. I felt helpless and displaced--overwhelmed by the need and wondering how I could continue to make a positive difference.
There was no time to rest because I had to get the kids ready for a new school year.
In the last two weeks, I've been resting and coming out of the post-Bolivia funk. I'm going to bed early, taking care of myself each day. And it's working. I'm perking up, feeling better. I'm meeting up with friends and doing some volunteer work at my kids' schools. It feels good and I feel like my body and mind are coming back into balance.
I don't have to try to be happy. I just wake up happy and at peace.
I guess that's why I wanted to write this post to remind myself that even if it hadn't worked, all would be well. Even if I was going back into a true depression, it would be OK.
It's not my fault and it's beyond my control. I am doing what I can---right now, it's working. But if it stops working, I know where to go for help.
Sometimes being depressed makes me feel like I did something wrong, that perhaps God is punishing me. I feel like a failure.
I'm writing this post to remind myself (and you) that no matter what happens, we are beloved. God doesn't ask me to live some fancy life and do awesome things for Him. He just wants me to be real. I am a broken vessel and no matter how hard I try, I can't make myself whole and perfectly well, but God loves me just as I am.
I accept my neediness and know God loves me unconditionally.
All will be well.