Sunday, August 3, 2014

Hope

This Week's Prompt:
HOPE

For some reason, if Hope were a color I would imagine it as being yellow.

You would think that someone who has faced depression before, and who has openly discussed issues with self-harm would know the signs of depression and wouldn't be afraid to talk about it or seek help.  It seems that even being well experienced in struggling with depression and speaking out against stigma does not lead to immunity from stigma and personal shame.  That being said... it's time to come clean.

Hi, my name is Ashley and I'm suffering from Severe Depression.

It is no secret that I've had a real rough time of it lately.  While I've been open about it, I've tried not to whine (and not always excelled in the endeavor).  I've tried to embrace that things are changing for me right now.  I've tried to accept that perhaps right now I'm supposed to be learning something about myself, life, love, happiness, hard work...I'm not entirely sure.  While I've been open about my struggles, the truth is that I haven't been honest with anyone (including myself) just how bad things are.

While it might appear that I am still functioning because I get up and go to work every day, every morning is a fight to get out of bed.  While I still manage to make this blog happen, I feel like I'm not expressing myself as creatively as I would like.  I am exhausted from stress and maintaining the facade things are ok.  I'm not sleeping at night and when I do, I often have nightmares.   My home is messier than it has ever been in my life and I am ashamed.  I am struggling financially and every attempt to cut costs, budget, and find a second job in an attempt to catch up and improve things has proven futile.  While I still shower daily, apply deodorant and wear clean clothes, my personal hygiene consists of the bare minimum; I'm taking care of myself but not taking care of myself in a way that makes me feel good or confident about my appearance.  Speaking of appearance, I'm gaining weight yet again... which doesn't help the chest pains (I know they come from stress and have seen a doctor, but it is an incredibly scary feeling anyway).  I'm struggling with my back injury and my chronic pain is exacerbated by my depression while contributing to it at the same time.  I feel guilty for not being the daughter, sister, aunt, partner, friend or person that I want to be or have been in the past.  And the guilt is crushing...I feel guilty because I feel this way, because I'm letting people down, because I can't bring myself to tell someone because I don't want to make all of this ugly and soul-sucking darkness I feel inside their problem.  I feel guilty for being a fake because I just keep pushing to pretend it is all ok.  I feel guilty writing this.

I have isolated myself.  Following "the breakup", I became incredibly aware and sensitive towards behaviors I felt were manipulative, controlling or abusive.  Realizing that many of those behaviors were also present in some friendships was incredibly hard, especially when no matter what I said or did to attempt to talk to those people about the problem, they just didn't get it.  At some point, you just have to let go of people who don't make you feel good inside.  But eventually I started to feel like I was that person to others.  When things happen, I NEED to talk about them over and over again... it's how I process experiences.  Unfortunately, that can be incredibly hard on the people around you and I felt like I just kept projecting my negativity onto people I care about.  Eventually, I quit answering calls and stopped accepting invitations from people who are genuinely my friends because I hated feeling like I ruined everyone's good time with yet another angry bitter story or comment.  I got tired of feeling like I was being the kind of friend I was trying to get away from, and it became easier to just stay home.

The one person I felt I should be able to talk to about all of these things shut me down with "you should go outside and exercise".  No one who has ever been depressed wants to fucking be told to go exercise.  Is there anyone in the free world who doesn't know exercise helps depression?  Being told to go exercise after confiding that you're struggling with mental health issues is like being nailed in the face with an snowball that turned to ice: cold and incredibly painful.  What I really wanted from that person specifically was for them to just be there for me while I let it out.  I wanted someone to validate my feelings and tell me "You've had a rough time.  It's normal for you to feel this way.  It's ok to be bitter and angry and shitty and salty for awhile.  It's ok and I still care about you" without having to ask because everything feels less sincere when you have to ask for it.  Needless to say, I didn't get what I wanted.

Part of me feels like I need to just sit down and cry because I haven't...as if while trying to be "strong" I forgot to just be human.  I've shed a few tears here and there, but I think I've needed to break down and have a sobbing, ugly cry.  The kind of crying that requires an entire box of tissue.  The kind of crying that leaves you puffy faced the next day.  The kind with sobs that feel like they come from so deep inside that it must be your soul.  The kind of tears that feel hot and somehow cleansing as they come out.

Unfortunately, when you feel as bad as I've been feeling, there is no way to tell people how bad it is without there being an outpouring of the kind of support that feels overwhelming to an introvert.  I don't want people to stage some kind of totally unnecessary intervention.  I don't want people to start randomly showing up at my house to check on me, or doing things that make me feel smothered.   I'm ok being alone.  In fact, right now it kind of feels necessary to me to cocoon until I can make the necessary changes in myself to emerge.  All I really want is some understanding and some love.  I wouldn't say no to a hug, because lately I could really use one more often than not.  I want people to know that it isn't personal, that I just need to work on some things.  I want to know that when I'm ready to emerge or come around that I have a place I can come around to.  If I show up, I want to be welcomed.  I wouldn't say no to a text message saying, "Hey, I miss you and I'm thinking of you" without all the pressure to put on a face and perform the "everything is a-ok" routine.  I don't want to feel guilty or made to feel guilty about needing to take care of myself.  Above all, I really just want to know that right now when I can't do anything for anyone else and I'm struggling to be the best version of myself that I'm still loved.

Through all of this, the one thing I have is Hope.  Hope that when I'm done cocooning I'll emerge a better person.  Hope that the people I've tried to be considerate of, perhaps the wrong way, will be understanding.  Hope that by admitting this out loud that I will be able to do what I need to do for myself and move towards something better.  Hope that by openly admitting that I'm struggling harder than I ever recall struggling before someone else will feel moved to share with someone who cares about them that they are struggling and might need some help too.

When I think of Hope, I think of the color yellow.  I think it is because I realize and understand that without the darkness, we cannot see the light.  And though my world in many ways strongly resembles a long, cold night... at some point there will be rays of yellow sunlight, and as long and I just keep facing a new day I have another opportunity to try and make things better.

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for letting this out Ashley. As someone who doesn't know you other than from your blogs or tweets I now understand where you've been hiding the past week - in a "cocoon."
    I pray that since you came out of your cocoon here, you've morphed into a beautiful yellow butterfly bursting with hope. I'll wear something yellow in hopes that each day you're able to fly further and further to where you want to be.
    <<<>>>

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    1. Beautifully written! Thanks so much for writing such great encouragement!

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  2. That took so much courage to write and I am so proud of you for facing it by writing about it! Sending tons and tons of hugs. And you don't have to worry about me just "popping in" for an intervention since I live so dang far away. But if I didn't...I would totally blow off your pleas of "not needing that" and come swoop you up for some fun girly-time... introvert, or not!
    So here it comes, my lame advice. I know you just can't wait to read it!! Keep your chin up, even though it is hard, and reach out to your friends, even your ones that live far away. And if it gets too bad, don't be afraid to reach out for help from a professional. There is NOTHING wrong with that. xoxo

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  3. I went through this exact same thing not too long ago with people tell me to go outside to fix my own depression. Fuck that. There's nothing you "need" to do that is going to be a magic fix and we both know it. I'm here whenever you need to vent and if I need to take a trip so we can get drunk off our asses (in the house no less) and watch shitty movies, then so be it. I love you.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this and honest piece.

    Sending love and light your way friend and hoping for many days sunny days.

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  5. Thank you Ash for writing such a honest, heartfelt, courageous blog. I felt every word, every emotion, and I commend your courage. You have helped so many people with your bravery. Keep on fighting the fight, you ARE worth it sending you a caring hug across the miles.

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  6. You ARE a beautiful and brave soul. Thank you for sharing your heart and talent with us all. Hugs from Canada. 💓

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  7. I've had my own share of battles with depression and it's no fun. Nor is it something someone can understand unless they've been through it. I hope the person telling you to get out and exercise meant well but depression just isn't that easy to get over. Take the time YOU need to work through the situation but please reach out even more if need be. I've learned that shutting others out is my enemy no matter how right it feels! Love sent your way.

    Thanks for sharing with Blogdiggity!

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  8. I have had some depressive episodes - but never been diagnosed with full on depression. And I"m never quite sure how to handle these things. Keep thinking of yellow. It will get you through.

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