Having spent most of my life struggling with or managing my depression, you’d think I’d have some sort of plan.
Truth is, I don’t.
Like many, I read all the blog posts and articles pertaining to my illness and carefully file them away. I believe all the advice and find it extremely helpful…when I’m not depressed.
When I am depressed, no amount of desire to feel better can help me to access those encouraging files I’ve stored in the back of my brain. It’s not because I don’t think they are helpful. They are. Not only are they helpful, they are necessary since this type of communication is a thread to feeling better. It just may take a while to “take hold” and make me a believer that things will get better soon.
I am in the middle of a bipolar depressive episode as I write this post. It has been a struggle to put my fingers on the keyboard and to come up with a coherent thought. As I was lying awake last night (something I do often when depressed), I thought about how dark everything seemed and that I couldn’t seem to get myself to believe that this cloud would lift.
I know it will lift. It always does. However, each time the cloud lifts and I can put some of the positive advice into practice, I swear that I’ve “got this” and that I will be better equipped for next time. Of course, all along, I pray there won’t BE a next time.
There always is.
Even now, as I write this, I know I will come through this episode and the sun will shine again, so to speak. However, I also know that when I fall into the pit again, I won’t believe that previous sentence in the beginning.
The pain will be too intense. The hopelessness all encompassing. I will forget everything that I have learned about dealing with my bipolar depression. I will helplessly wish for some of my mania behaviours back just to know that I can still feel things. I will become offended when people say, “What is normal anyway? I mean, is anyone really normal?” I will become irritated or maybe even incensed when someone tells me to “get some fresh air” or “have you tried Omega oil?”
These comments are designed solely to help and I KNOW that. Deep down, past the cloud that is threatening to crush my chest, I know this to be true. It’s just that I can’t accept anything beyond the sorrow and helplessness I’m feeling right now. I imagine that my depression is an unwelcome intruder (I guess most intruders are unwelcome) that takes up too much space in my home, my head, my body and my life. Sometimes I imagine my depression is like the cymbiot in Spiderman that turns into Venom. It is evil and all consuming. There is me, trying to pull, claw and push it off me, but without success. This cymbiot will hold onto me until it finds a different host (or Spiderman saves me, whichever comes first).
In the meantime, as I work to shoulder this oppressiveness off me, I must remember that even if the advice or steps to feeling better don’t make sense to me now, they will. I’m probably even taking some of the advice right now and I don’t even realize it.
I am trying not to over-analyze everything (something I’ve ALWAYS done) and just allow this episode to run its course. I just never know how long that course will be and it scares me. I am trying to listen to the well-meaning advice and know in my heart that it is filtering into my brain whether I think it is or not. That’s what I would say to anyone who is struggling right now. The good thoughts are in there and you are still capable of taking in more; it just may take a little longer for them to break the surface. But they will. You just need to let go of the frustration and believe that they will.
This is advice I share with you and with me as I trust that it will stick.
About Lori Lane Murphy
Lori is passionate about banishing stigma around mental illness not just for our kids, but perhaps, especially for our kids. She believes that if we can take away some of the guilt and shame associated with these issues, conversations will become easier. This is one of the reasons that Lori organizes storytelling shows across the city of Toronto focusing on sharing stories of mental illness. All in Our Heads gives storytellers and audiences alike the opportunity to learn from each other and support the efforts of anti-stigma campaigns. It’s also an opportunity for Lori to share some of her own stories in the hope of helping others. Lori volunteers with Art with Impact by being part of their board and organizing All in Our Heads. She volunteers as a speaker with Partners in Mental Health and is especially excited about her new volunteer role as a Healthy Minds blogger! As a storyteller, comedian, professional speaker and facilitator, Lori wants to use her voice to support those who struggle with the stigma of mental illness and to help remove the shame still too often associated with it.