Depression lies to me but I don't have to listen

It will always hurt this much. It will never go away. Nobody cares. You are all alone. Better off dead. 

This is what Depression says to me. And it is a lie. All lies.

The truth is this and it is ALWAYS this:

It will pass. It gets better. I am loved. I am not alone. My life matters.

****

It was hard for me to get out of bed one morning this week—and not because I didn't get enough sleep the night before.

It was Depression, hanging heavy around my neck. I dragged it like a ball and chain to the bathroom, then down to the kitchen to fix breakfast for the kids, then back up upstairs where I crash landed in bed.

The tears came. Hot and fast. Not again, I thought. Please, God. Not again.

But Depression isn't something I can control. It comes when it wants, it leaves when it wants. 

Still, I am not helpless. I have my tools: daily medication, daily meditation, prayer, exercise, healthy food, a support network.

When I feel the darkness closing in, all I want to do is fall asleep because sleep is an escape.

But it is not a solution.

This is the truth:

Depression wants me to give up, give in, let the darkness take over.

I don't have to let it. Even when the darkness is all around me, I have choice.

I have agency.

****

I didn't stay in bed today. I let myself cry for five minutes because it's good to cry but it's also good to stop. And I need limits and boundaries.

I asked for help. 

I talked about it.

I got out of bed and did my hair. I put on makeup. I got dressed—and not in sweatpants. I wore nice clothes.

"Mama, you look so pretty!" 

The children notice. It means something to them that I get out of bed and fix myself up. It makes them feel secure, I think. Like their world is ordered and stable. If Mama is OK, then everything is OK.

And so I do it for them. And I do it for me.

Getting dressed doesn't fix everything, but it is something. And that something is always better than nothing, always better than burrowed deep under the covers with dirty hair and unbrushed teeth.

I don't know why lipstick helps, but it does.

****

I met up with some friends. Man, that was hard. It was hard to get in the car and drive to meet them. It was hard to park and get out of the car. It was hard to walk across the parking lot. Depression was pushing me back every step of the way. Like walking against 100 mph winds.

But I kept going.

Smiles met me.

Depression says I need to be alone. Depression says nobody wants to see me. 

But those, too, are lies. Depression thrives in isolation.

The truth is that my friends want to see me. They are happy to see me. Their smiles are like sunshine. And it dissipates the fog of melancholy. Yes, I'm struggling. But I'm not struggling alone. That makes all the difference.

****

I went for a walk. This is what I've learned: it's hard to stay really depressed when I'm outdoors. The sunshine, the breeze, the sky, the birds....being in nature soothes my worried mind and restores my soul.

Going on a walk feels like a Herculean task when I'm depressed. But I go anyway. And about a half mile into it, I feel the weight lift. I feel the inner sigh of relief. 

It might be hard to get outside when I'm feeling bad inside but when I do, I always feel a little bit better. And every little bit helps.

****

This is what I want you to know: it's not your fault. Please hear me. It's not your fault. You didn't choose Depression. 

I also want you to know there is hope. Every day. There is always hope. You are never, EVER alone. If you feel like nobody cares, keep looking. There are helpers everywhere.

You are infinitely and unconditionally loved. Your life matters. Do you hear me? YOU MATTER. Yes, you. We need you here. I need you here.

Just for today, get up. Just for today, reach out. Just for today, don't listen to the lies.

Just for today, believe that you have a life worth living.

Now look around you. Can you pick out ONE good thing in your life?

Just one thing. I know it's tough to see the light when everything feels dark.

But the good is there. Look for it.

See it? YES?! Me, too!

I'm holding onto the good today.

I'm holding on with you.

We're gonna be OK.