Today was so full of symbolism, one might think I'd converted to Catholicism (not that there is anything wrong with Catholicism, folks, it's just that their faith practices seem so much more symbolic and mystical than the more literal Protestant takes on Christianity, in my very humble opinion).
As I laced up my shoes, hooked up the dog to the waist leash, and punched in the right sequences on my phone to start Pandora and MapMyRun, the emergent scents of spring - the willow's unfurling leaves, warming earth and greening grass - made it to my consciousness, whispering the hope of better days ahead.
It'd been cloudy all day - uncharacteristically overcast after such a gorgeous and clear spring day the day before. But at about mile 2 of my totally spontaneous run*, I turned west toward the setting sun and realized, the clouds were all but gone as Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway triumphantly climaxed in my ears:
Out of the darkness and into the sun / But I won't forget the place I come from* Totally tangential side-story: tonight I was supposed to go with my co-workers to this Nat'l Public Health Week networking event, and my husband and I finagled the schedule such that he got off work early and was able to pick up #3, drive #2 to LAX and pick #1 up from play practice in order to allow me this event. It was nothing short of an act of Congress trying to get it all set-up, but alas! My co-workers all bailed for varying, and legit, reasons, so I found myself with some rare spare time, and took it to pound some pavement.
So, I know you're dying to know, "What's with all the symbolism, Heather? What does it MEAN?!?" Or maybe not, since there is no "you" as readers anymore since I've blogged with the consistency of a hundred year drought in the past 4 years.
You see, it's been a hard week for me....for several weeks.
I've been fighting depression again, for who knows how long now.
Denial is a pretty powerful and destructive force to be reckoned with, because it got me good. Again.
I can't put my finger on a particular trigger, or really say that I was cognizant of the symptoms picking up speed, I just know that I've been doing what I've always done, and soldiering on all by my lonesome.
The desire to sleep all the time? Written off by the fact that it has remained just that, a desire. I looked Depression in the eyes and said, "'Scuse me?? Do you not know who I am? Moreover, what I am? I am a Working Mom of Three, there is no rest for the weary, silly Depression! What is this sleep thing of which you speak and who are you to dangle that in front of me when it's not even an option - stupid, that's who. Yeah, Depression, you are Stupid."
As my daughter is prone to conclude when she's put forth a lacking argument, "So....yeah!"
I imagine Denial just chuckled knowingly and elbowed Depression in the ribs. "We're a great team. She ain't gonna know what hit her."
I guess I really started to see it in my concentration and focus. My attention to detail was slipping, and it flustered me when I'd catch a mistake I'd made. Stupid things like making scheduling mistakes in Outlook at work, or obvious (to me) edits that went uncaught. I told myself perhaps I was just rusty, having been out of the working world for 5 years and it would take some time to get back in the swing of things.
I was ok.
I was on top of it. Nothing to see here!
But then, the Thoughts came flooding in, mercilessly.
When I'd make one of those silly mistakes, my mental voice (not audible hallucinations, but you know that inner dialogue everyone has? No? Just me? Heh....) just wouldn't let up with the castigation; think the most brutal version of Mean Girls ever. How could you be so stupid, I mean really, you're supposed to be smart, but Lord how you've dumbed down! You'll never get it back, either. Look at you, how you're trying so hard to rise above and "breakaway," but it's all for naught. You're doomed to stay a white-trash nobody.
And, it's not like I was so stupid and easily cowed over that I just believed everything I said in my head. No, I raised my shield and tried to wield the Word of God and interchangeably channel Stuart Smalley. Nope, I am a precious Lamb, a diamond in God's eye. My worth isn't in things, or deeds, or intellect. I am valuable because I am who I was created to be! I'm smart enough, I'm good enough, and gosh darnit, people like me!
But the Thoughts are relentless. They almost never stop. And it is exhausting trying to counter them with truth ALL THE TIME.
This mental exhaustion is what gets me Every Time. It is the chink in my mental health armor that invariably lets some barb in that will wound me in some fashion. And then, boom! In come more Thoughts when I'm down and before long the really Dark Thoughts come.
Most of the time I recognize the Dark Thoughts as the deceptive bullies they are, but sometimes they are so cruelly convincing that I wonder if ever there could come a time that I would lose my solidarity and fall prey to them. Because even though I am a Working Mom of Three and I know those little people DESPERATELY NEED me more than I can really grasp, sometimes the Dark Thoughts try to persuade me into thinking that I really am messing them up more than I am growing them into beings who will ultimately become well-adjusted adults, that they could be happier if I just freed them from the craziness that I have become, and on and on with the tormenting thoughts that pull at my mama heartstrings. It seems so cruel that Depression would use a woman's very desire to be a good mother for her children and pervert it this way to use against her. But that's the nature of the beast. And, because it is my own mind fighting against me, there are other good things unique to me that Depression pits against me, knowing they are tender spots.
Depression is darkness. As is Shame, Depression's all-too-often present sidekick.
But that's where I break the mold.
As shameful as Depression would have me feel about the fact that I have a dysfunctional brain, that I can't just "get over it," I am an over-sharer at the core. Which is embarrassing sometimes, but more often than not, has led to many powerful moments where the other person says, "Me too." These Me Too Moments have saved my life more times than I can count in my 34 years. So here I am. Sharing, in the event that this may be a Me Too to someone who hasn't yet vocalized their struggle and happen across this page.
and because I am a Kelly Clarkson groupie, singing:
Everybody's got a dark side / Do you love me? /Can you love mine?So, all of that to say, that tonight was the first night in a long time that I felt hope instead of despair, that I felt the promise of Spring and the assurances of my God that behold, He is making New Life!
So with that, I'm out of the closet (of depression, y'all!). Navigating some options to take care of this, trying to put one foot in front of the other every day.