There have been many times in my life when I looked around me and all I saw was an ugly world. I was diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety disorder several years ago. After lots of therapy and a few years on medication, I was able to get things under control. My anxiety disorder is basically nonexistent. I still get anxious (probably more than the average person) but I haven’t had a panic attack in years. What I do still struggle with is my depression. It isn’t nearly as bad as it once was, but I still have minor depressive episodes that I have to deal with on a pretty regular basis.
These episodes can be set off by pretty much anything…I can miss someone I have lost and end up in a funk that lasts a few days; I can miss a friend I haven’t talked to in a long time and start crying at the first sappy commercial that I see (I am looking at you cute Budweiser commercial with the foal pulling the cart); I can feel overwhelmed by having two jobs that both pay a shitty wage for a whole lot of work and just want to curl up in a ball and go to sleep. This post isn’t about “poor Stacie” – I am not trying to make anyone feel sorry for me. This is just my life…sometimes, it is just hard to try to get through the day, much less try to make a difference in someone else’s life.
Most of the time, when these episodes happen, I am sad, but I am sad and running; or I am sad and riding my bicycle. Honestly, getting out and pounding the pavement, whether I am pounding it with the soles of my shoes or the rubber of my tires, I feel better. It is the best (cheapest) therapy I have ever had. Sometimes I am running and crying. Sometimes I am running and having the confrontational conversation with someone I am upset with – a conversation I am pretty sure I would never actually have. And, once I have been out there for awhile, nine times out of ten, I feel better when I am done. No. It doesn’t go away that simply (if only!) but things don’t seem as hopeless as they did before I left my house. This time it feels different. This time, I don’t want to run or ride my bike. This time I just don’t want to do anything. But that doing nothing plays its own chaos in my head.
When I am NOT doing anything, I get even more depressed. I like doing the things I do and when I don’t do them I get sad…I get a little bit more touchy; a little bit more impatient with myself and those around me. The slightest thing can set me off and that hopeless feeling returns. My hopeless feeling feels like a hole – a hole that must be filled.
In Weight Watchers we talk about why we eat when we aren’t hungry. I eat when I am not feeling good about myself and the world around me. I eat to fill that hole – whatever that hole may represent at the time. I eat and gain weight and then I feel worse about myself because it affects how I run and ride – five pounds makes such a HUGE difference. It creates a vicious circle. A circle that I know I am running around, but isn’t always easy to break.
Where am I going with this? I really don’t know. I just needed to write – maybe reading this will make a difference for someone. Sometimes the worst part about being depressed it thinking you are all alone in the world – no one else EVER feels this way – but that isn’t true. I read somewhere on the Internet that approximately 15 million Americans suffer from depression. FIFTEEN MILLION! That is a lot – and let’s not forget the rest of the world!
I can’t “cure” my depression. I can’t make it go away forever, but I can know that each episode will go away. I push through every depressive episode as if it were a hill I am climbing. I push and push until I come to the top and then I look around at the beautiful world.