I sleep 12 hours on some days. I feel sadness overpower me and with tears in my eyes my motivation is nowhere to be found. My appetite fluctuates; some days I eat a banana nut muffin, and nothing else. Other days, I’m snacking into the night. My hobbies no longer seem like passions. Why should I sit down and start a new book when the words in my head taunt me? Why should I meet a friend for dinner when I feel so unlovable? Why should I paint the colors I love when my world is so dull?
Often when you think of depression, symptoms like crying, weight changes, fatigue, sadness, and lack of interest in activities come to mind. But through my own journey with depression, I’ve encountered surprises I didn’t expect.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is how depression pops up unannounced. It doesn’t care what day it is, what you’re doing, where you are, or who you're with. It doesn’t care about your plans or your needs or your joys. It slowly arrives like a mist. Sometimes I wake up and the mist is already there, and the sadness overwhelms me. My bed seems extra comfy and warm. My life feels meaningless and I can’t see through the fog.
Sometimes the depression appears in the afternoon. I stare at my computer and I can feel the energy leaking out of me. I can’t get chores done and the dishes pile up in the sink. I can’t sit still and I start to feel lonely.
The mist may visit in the evening. It’s dark outside and I don’t feel peace inside me. I feel tired and hopeless. I can’t do anything but lie on the couch and watch TV.
Every time my depression visits, it surprises me. It takes me some time to realize I’m depressed and not just lazy or incapable of functioning. Then, suddenly, I’m the most insecure person on earth. I’m a burden and I can’t get out of my irrational thoughts. I’m still on the journey of giving myself grace during these moments. It’s hard for me not to feel guilty and not to compare myself to everyone else who seems to be a fully functional member of society.
I’ve learned that when the depression envelops me, I HAVE to accept it, instead of fight it. I know that taking the time to be gentle with myself, rest, take care of my basic needs, and do an enjoyable activity will help. It’s easier some days than others.
There are obvious psychological symptoms of depression, but I’ve come to realize it also affects me physically. The fatigue always accompanies my episodes, locking me in bed as if I don’t have the legs to move. My memory becomes a blur, masking the dates I have to remember and the joys I’ve felt that week. I have to write everything down to keep it in my head.
But another big surprise I’ve noticed throughout the years is the lack of coordination that appears. My balance is less sharp. I become clumsier, knocking into things, bumping into walls and countertops, and tripping over steps and curbs. Small bruises appear as reminders that my depression is not only a bully to my brain, but to my body as well.
It’s easy to forget about the light and clear sky when you are in the midst of a
depressive episode. You forget what hope is. You forget what life is like without the darkness. But deep, deep down, I know life is worth it despite the depression mist. Despite the surprises, I carry on.
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