During my lunch break today, I called a friend. I needed to hear a friendly voice. I was feeling sad and stressed out. I needed to talk to someone who cared. Basically, I needed a friend. Instead of keeping those feelings bottled up inside, I called someone I knew would understand. We talked about many things, but eventually we discussed what depression feels like. She had written in her own blog a description that I had found terrifyingly beautiful, accurate, and true. She wrote that depression is “like some thick, wet, blue, velvet cloak trying to smother the life out of your heart….” I understood. I have been feeling the weight of my own depression these past few days, and had been describing it in my own mind. Maybe that’s part of the process, the trying to understand and interpret that crushing, muddled feeling.
Her description is a whole lot prettier than my own. I told her that my depression feels like cotton. My mouth, nose, face, every part of me, feels like it is stuffed with cotton batting. I am unable to make facial expressions. If someone were to ask me to smile, my brain could not tell my face what to do. That must be where the “cotton” feeling comes in. I feel like a rag doll. I have a face, but it is blank. Fighting for expression, fighting to act like a human and not a stuffed inanimate object, is exhausting.
Last week, when I received a funny text picture from a friend I see infrequently, I replied. “Thanks, that made me smile. In fact, I laughed out loud.” He responded that he was glad and that I needed to smile more often. He said that I’m pretty when I smile. I felt embarrassed. I knew just what he was referring to. We had seen each other at a conference in May. I could see that he felt I had changed. I was not the same person I had been just a few short months ago. I was sick. I didn’t laugh or smile like I once did. I wasn’t any fun. I was the expressionless rag doll, and that made me feel ashamed of myself.
Talking to my friend today helped me tremendously. Our conversation went from serious to silly from moment to moment. We are two people struggling with loss, fear, pain, and depression, but we are also able to laugh. God, I find strength in that. There are good people in this world, and I am learning to reach out to them. I am learning to accept help when it is right there for the taking.
I’m not sure why I have so often been faced with loss in my life. Actually, I try not to think about it too much. I do know that I have had way more than my fair share of bad luck and loss. It would be staggering if I were to write it all down. On the other hand, I have had so many wonderful blessings, too. The one thing I have learned as I have been faced with adversity in my life is that there is an OTHER SIDE. Climb that hill, keep putting one foot in front of the other, trudge through the crap that life throws your way. There IS an OTHER SIDE. Right now, though, that other side seems so very far away.
Of course, I am feeling bogged down. There is so much on my plate right now, and not much of it is good. That’s when the depression kicks in. It’s almost impossible to fight off when life is throwing buckets of crap my way. I feel myself sinking under, and I’m tipping my head up to try to catch a breath of air. I need to BREATHE, but there does not seem to be a place of comfort. I’m trying to trudge along and get to the other side of this. I want to get to the BETTER SIDE. I’m trying. I keep putting one foot in front of the other, but it feels like I am fighting a pretty strong wind.
As I drove home from work tonight, like always, I listened to my iPod. The song “Drink Me” by Anna Nalick came on my player. Drink me. That made me think. The words of the song made me think. “Drink me, baby. Slowly, I’ll disappear… I’ll get smaller with every swallow.” Wow. That is how I feel. Little sips of me have been taken. Just a little bit at a time. A little here. A little there. My glass, which was once full, is now almost empty.
I allowed it to happen. “Here, take a little bit more. Is there anything else you want or need? Is there anything else I can do for you? I am strong. I will bear the weight. Here, have a little bit more.” I gave too much. I emptied out my own glass.