I still don’t understand how I missed it. It’s plain that everyone around me knew; it was obvious. People kept asking me, and I kept shaking my head saying, “No. No. I would know. I’ve been there before. I know what it feels like, what it looks like. I’m just tired, overworked. I just need to stay positive.”
Then, on St. Patty’s Day, a friendly acquaintance of two years remarked, “Hey, I’ve never heard you laugh before,” and finally, the denial was washed away.
I’d forgotten that depression took many forms, that knowing it once, even presumably conquering and surviving it, even a library worth of material on the subject and a degree in psychology did not make me immune or an expert. My first depression was a soggy, tear-soaked affair that started at the age of 4 and lasted until I was about 16, followed by recurrent aftershocks for the next few years and drenched, much of the time, by an obsession with suicide. I’d mistakenly decided that depression, for me, meant having an inflated appetite, a love affair with self-harm, and a daily bawl-out. Not once in those years did I lose interest in, or the ability to do, the things I cared about.
Today is different. Today I can say I’ve barely cried in years, that the world is covered in a gray, numb pall, tinged with occasional irritation and outbursts of hostility. The interests I once sought refuge in are all but forsaken. I can’t remark on the last time I played an instrument, or wrote, painted, or drew regularly. Video games have all but fallen by the wayside; the sewing projects in my closet have been neglected for nearly a decade. I don’t know when I last went on a walk, took a hike, went sledding, ice-skating, or swimming, or felt joy over scenery or delight in a pet or other animal’s company. It is obvious even to the occasional check-out clerk that I’ve become flaky and distracted, incapable of concentrating. Food is an abhorrent entity; sleep is a blessing I cannot give myself permission to indulge in for long. Yet I have never, in all the time of the great second depression, thought of harming or killing myself.
Worry not, dear readers, for there is a silver lining to this otherwise, um, depressing story.
I was laughing that day because I had allowed myself the relief of knowing that I am going to quit my job someday soon. I am going to quit no matter how much I like my coworkers, or how much I love the adrenaline rush of a job well-accomplished under what feels near impossible circumstances, or even how much I feel I need that extra $2-$3 per hour.
It’s not worth it. I made myself a promise many years ago when the clouds lifted at last that I would never put myself repeatedly in an otherwise avoidable situation that made it difficult to be happy. Happiness was my first priority, and remains so to this day. I will not let that change, and I won’t let even a sign of improvement in my workplace erode my resolve. I will take my time to insure that I’ve found a new, stable place of employment that is right for me. I will dig out, brush up on, and utilize every one of the techniques that helped me overcome my depression in the past. I’ll find more if I have to, because I want, and believe I deserve, happiness.
So, stay with me, fellow bloggers, and be assured that I will soon be unveiling a better, happier me. If you, too, are feeling a little down in the dumps (or stranded down a well somewhere), perhaps we can learn from each other. I’m confident that together we can and will conquer our depression.