I'm not an alcoholic or a drug addict. But I have bad days.
Yesterday was a bad day. I call it a "bad day," but that doesn't mean it rained and my checking account was overdrawn and I was tired and cranky and I didn't get any mail. A "bad day" is when the voice in my head says "I can't do this anymore. This breathing in and out is too hard, and it hurts. I want to be done. I AM done." A "bad day" is when everything is too much, much too much, and I'm ready for it to be over. I sit and cry until the cries turn into shaking sobs and my face turns inside out. Or I crawl into bed and try to sleep, hoping like hell with everything I am that I won't wake up. I wish for a brain aneurysm. I sit at the bottom of the shower, close my eyes, wrap my arms around my legs and breathe in water until I choke.
[I don't mean to scare any of my loved ones with this confession. Generally speaking, I'm okay. None of this is new. It's old, old, old. I've been having days like this, sometimes days and days that stack up in a dark row, since I was fourteen. I have a therapist whom I see regularly. I'm on medication. My medical doctor works in tandem with my therapist, yadda, yadda, yadda. Please do not be alarmed.]
I wouldn't even write this and post it for public consumption except that I feel like I understand something right now that I can only fully articulate by writing about it, and I feel compelled to share it in the interest of honesty and transparency.
I know, today, I know that my depressive episodes are not brought on by outside circumstances; therefore, they cannot be cured by outside circumstances. In other words, no matter how nice my living situation is, no matter how much money is in my bank account, no matter how many people shower me with adoration, no matter how many beautiful works of embroidery I create, no matter what words I manage to put in what lyrical, skipping order, I am still going to experience days when I can't physically pick myself up off the ground because I'm in too much emotional pain. Even if I write a book that Oprah thinks is fabulous, that shoots to the top of the New York Times bestseller list, that gets made into a Hollywood blockbuster film whose midnight premiere draws millions to theaters across the country, I will still experience days when I have to concentrate on the words tattooed on my wrist and encourage myself to just breathe in and out again and again until I can do it without encouragement.
Glennon Melton blogged recently about her continued battle with depression, and it struck me so hard, because that woman's book and blog has been read and loved by soooo many people. She's been up on the Huffington Post numerous times, she's done publicity tours and readings and signings for the book. Her writing has touched so many people, and it doesn't make her impervious to "bad days." She still has them.
James shared this graphic on his Facebook wall recently:
This quote, along with Melton's post and the Macklemore song, has been floating through my brain this morning, and it just reminds me that for better or worse, I'm pretty well stuck with this depression thing. That's both saddening and encouraging. It's saddening because every time it comes around again I think, "Shit, really?! I thought I was DONE with this. I thought I was cured. I've been doing so well, and I'm so happy in my life. I can't deal with this again. Not again! Why?!" And sometimes I think, well if I just had X, I'd be so happy that I wouldn't have these episodes. This couldn't possibly happen to me if I had more money, or a skinnier body, or a blah blah blah nonsense whatever. I have to remind myself that that just isn't true.
So it's also encouraging to think of "bad days" as inevitable because if I can just hold on through the storm, I know that it will pass. It comes and goes, and the important thing to remember is that it GOES. It does go. No matter how much in the midst of it, it feels like it is forever, it's not. That's just a dirty lie depression tells me. Also, these episodes don't mean that I'm necessarily doing anything wrong. When depression shows up, it isn't because I don't have enough money, or a skinny enough body, or enough blah blah blah insert stupid material things that, if I thought about it, I actually don't value much at all. It just comes because it comes. It comes because of some funky brain chemistry that I can't change.
Yesterday James climbed into bed with me and held me while I sobbed against his chest. Just tears and snot everywhere. Today, he didn't have to because I was up and going and doing life again.
I'm actually pretty lucky. I have an amazing partner who understands, loves, and supports me. I have a great big crazy extended family whom I love. I have the best son possible. I love my job. I have numerous creative outlets that I enjoy. I have enough space and time and love. More than enough.
So on good days, I know I'm not done yet. Even on days when it rains and my checking account balance is low and I don't get any mail, I know I'm not done yet. And on the "bad days," I have Glennon Melton, Macklemore, Jim Carrey, and James Pritts to remind me that tomorrow will be better.