April 24, 2012

Making Depression My Bitch Instead of the Other Way Around

“Therapy was hard today,” was my response to my husband’s inquiry of how our day went. Tears streamed down my face as I explained my feelings of inadequacy, failure and non-existent self esteem.

A year ago this would have been a common discussion in our household. Recently, or so I thought, depression had become a thing of the past. I haven’t taken anti-depressants for over two years and my weekly therapy sessions have become bi-weekly. Lately I walk in all smiles and talk about surface problems that would be solved by the time I left the office.

This week was different. I talked about what I thought were usual things on the verge of tears with a heavy heart. By the middle of the session I broke down as the self-destructive thoughts I had tucked away in the farthest depths of my mind poured out.

I had become so distracted by tricking myself into not admitting I was depressed to notice that I was. If I kept myself busy enough and had an excuse for my typical depressive behavior then it surely wasn’t depression. It’s PMS, it’s my hormones, it’s because I watched Parenthood. I came up with it all and truly believed if I didn’t tell myself I was depressed then I wasn’t.

Yet, there underneath it all were the sure signs we have come to recognize as depression. The fact that the baby played by herself for most of the day while I watched episodes of Friends should have been a clue. Or the way I turned into mega bitch when my husband spilled water on the floor. Or how my sex drive disappeared as if someone had snapped their fingers.  Or the fact that my home is inexplicably filthy due to my desire to nap rather than clean.

So I took a week off. I gave myself one day to let it take its course. I gave into the desire to be lazy and sleep away my problems. I put on Sesame Street for the baby to watch. I let myself cry.

After my day was up I employed all the tactics I have learned to combat the son of a bitch. Go outside, exercise, give thanks, socialize with friends, talk, listen, force myself to do things, play with that sweet little baby dying for my attention.

It didn’t go away 100% in one day, but it didn’t grip my life like it used to. A typical depressive episode used to go on for weeks and would only get worse. Not this time. I can feel it melting into the distance.

Those self-loathing thoughts slip back into the background as my esteem builds itself back to a normal level. The house is cleaned, the  sex drive is back and the bitchy attitude has recessed into the darkness.

I’m told depression is a way of life and I’ll have to deal with it. I used to never believe that and always think it’s gone away for good when a few months go by with no sign of it. But this time was different. It caught me off guard and I reacted with authority instead of succumbing to its wrath.  It’s a nice change and finally shows that perhaps just maybe I will be able to deal with it. 

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