Friday, February 19, 2010

Depression is sort of a taboo subject in our society. People whisper "she's depressed" and they nod their heads knowingly at each other, as if it's some sort of contagious disease.

It's not.

I get sad. It's true, I do and I can't help it. Most of the time nothing has triggered the sadness. No one has died. I just don't feel... perky.

People don't understand that either. "What do you mean you're sad? Did someone die? Are your kids sick? Is your car broken? Does Jefe still have his job? Do you have a place to live? You have nothing to be sad about! Buck up little camper!"

I know all of that, but sometimes it's not that simple.

My favorite is when people tell me that if I would just focus on Christ more, or go to church more and read my scriptures better, then I wouldn't be sad. "God fills you with love" they say. While that is true, and I really do believe that, it doesn't stop those stupid sad demons from invading my life.

Sometimes you can't just "shake it off". The demons come in, set up camp and start a bonfire. Most of the time I am able to evict them as quickly as they set up shop... but other times? Not so much.

I joke a lot about it, my depression, because it makes it easier to "deal with". I have actually named those pesky demons... Or as I like to call them, my Crazy Lady.

I call my inner Crazy Lady Estelle. I found a photo of her on the Internet. I printed it off, framed it and its sitting in my kitchen window. It's a reminder that I'm in control. Usually.

I tell her "today you will not win. You will not control my thoughts!" Sometimes that works. Other times not so much.

I haven't ever wanted to blog about my depression, because really? Who wants to read about that? It's... well, depressing.

The truth is this: I have fought depression for the majority of my life. It has always been there, simmering on the proverbial back burner. At times it boils over, leaving a huge mess. Other times, its contained rather nicely in a very pretty red pot that's called my life.

My adult life has been littered with various attempts to control Estelle. She comes and goes as she pleases, never warning me of an impending visit. She shows up at the oddest times, wearing out her welcome rather fast. She and I battle for my sanity.

Lately, she has been winning a lot.

My friend Heather wrote this amazing post about depression back in July that I have been unable to stop thinking about. She said something incredibly profound:

She is carrying this disease and she thinks she isn't and then sometimes she thinks she is this disease. She is me and I am her and she is them and she is not.

I haven't been able to get that last line out of my head. She is me and I am her and she is them and she is not. In reality she is me and I am her and she is them and she is not.

I have depression. I see myself in my children. Yet I believe that I don't have to see this part of me in them. That is my wish and my prayer. That I can control Estelle and teach my children to hold their heads high with dignity and embrace the life that God has given them.

Even if she does become them, she doesn't own them. They are so much more than Estelle.

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47 monkeys jumping on the bed:

  1. Heather of the EO said...

    Well, you know I totally get it.

    I love your honesty and the way you expressed it. I absolutely love that you battle it out with a picture of Estelle.

    I too hope and pray that the cycle of depression in my family ends with me. But if it doesn't, I just want my boys to know it is NOT all that they are. Just a part that must be faced. And sometimes that part brings about some really beautiful things. Redemption is cool like that.

    Love you.

  2. Bonnie the Boss said...

    I love that you gave her a name! This is the second post today that I have read about depression. I also love your attitude about it. Somedays it just consumes you and you don't know how to dig yourself out of the mire!
    You are a great examlpe!

  3. Janice said...

    Yes, the subject should not be taboo. I have had my moments as well and fight like hell to keep them at bay. I get it.

    Interesting fact: Migraine sufferers are more prone to depression than the average person.

  4. Janelle said...

    I totally get how you feel. It runs pretty deep in my family so I try to stay busy and aware just incase my Estelle decides to show up for a visit one day.
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Susan B. at warmchocmilk said...

    I "get it" too. I think we all have some degree of depression at some time or another in our lives. Sometimes it's triggered by an event, but more often not. It's so frustrating not to ahve a reason for the seems like feeling should have reasons. But that's life.....and really, isn't it great??

  6. Melanie J said...

    I never understood depression until I had a postpartum bout of it. I'm lucky it was the only time I dealt with it but it was enough to educate me about how difficult it is to shake. And that's even the wrong way to say it. You can't "shake" it. I think it taught me greater compassion, though. I hope I was humble enough to learn that.

  7. Heffalump said...

    Thanks for this post. It IS a taboo subject, and in a lot of ways that really sucks. I think you are brave for blogging about it. That part of me is just something I try not to reveal to many people so I admire your guts for putting it out there.

  8. Cynthia said...

    I live this too- but from the other side. For me it is my spouse who battles the demons of depression and anxiety. I'm the helpless bystander who wishes that, even just for a little while, I could carry that load for him and give him a much needed rest. It's so all-encompassing sometimes. And others it just leaves him alone.

    I'm lucky to have been born with a Hyperthermic Temperment (which apparently some think needs to be medicated because heaven forbid I be happy for no good reason). I think I was given that gift so that I could be the rock he needs.

    I'm sorry for your struggle but so proud of you for fighting and not giving in. My husband worried about telling me about his depression before we married for fear I'd reject him. Instead, it just confirmed I had the right guy based on stuff from my Pat. Blessing. I'm proud of him for doing what it takes to remain in control. It's so hard. Keep fighting the good fight, you are worth it and those around you who love you are PROUD of your efforts.

  9. Julie P said...

    This might have been the best depression post I've ever read, largely due to Estelle. Awesome.

  10. rychelle said...

    one of your best posts to date.

    thanks for sharing. (and for introducing us to estelle)

  11. InkMom said...


    That's all.

  12. Kristina P. said...

    You are awesome and I love you.

    And one of the things I can't stand in the church is when people say you need to pray harder or somehow you are spiritually deficient.

    It's an illness, just like a broken leg, or cancer. YOu can't just pray those away.

    Thanks for being honest.

  13. Kristen said...

    Amen, Amen and Amen. To your post and the above comments.

  14. Thorny Tree Lady said...

    Yeah, I pretty much love you. This is me, too. Except your Estelle is a lot prettier than mine. And you're a lot prettier than she is, too. Thanks for being a real person, and for being courageous enough to show it. I know it's not easy to do where you live, let alone in the world we live in.

  15. Teri said...

    Thank you. Although I want to leave it at that, I can't. I always would wonder why my mother would tell me that depression was like diabetes. You can control some of it, but the rest you can't. I never understood until I stood in that very dark place and had pure knowledge of how real her comparison was.

    I that you have named the demons. And given them a face. It seems a little easier to deal with something tangible rather than some ambiguous "stuff".

    Lastly, I too hate the talks about praying it away. Really? Do we pray cancer away without trying to do something about it, or do we just sit back and have some hope that it will be cured? The Lord works miracles, but we need to do our part...and if that means a little pill, or talking to a counselor, so be it.

  16. Amber Lynae said...

    I love what Kristina P said. You too are so much more than just Estelle.

  17. janabananagirl said...

    Thank you, Motherboard, for this post. I needed to know that I am not alone.

  18. Erin said...

    That was a really, really great post. Thank you for being honest.

    I hope it's not taking away from the importance of your post that I am wondering how many pictures you went through online until you found the "perfect" one of Estelle? And did the picture or the name come first?

    And should I find it ironic or not that my word ver is "joylling"?

  19. wonder woman said...

    Maybe it's just because I'm young enough and have had enough exposure, but I feel like I've never had any of the negative or uneducated attitudes about depression. And I'm thankful for that. But to be honest, when you talked about crazy lady Estelle, I thought you just meant the voice in your head that says something dumb before you can stop her -- normal stuff like that. I wouldn't have joked about your dad being Estelle's father had I known! I feel kinda dumb.

    Also.....I empathize with Cynthia. Except my husband doesn't think he's depressed. Or that if he is, he has good reason to be. Or that everyone else has the same outlook on life and he's not abnormal. I have no idea what to do for him and it kills me.

  20. Chief said...

    My heart is jumping. I know I couldn't have written it better myself (mostly because my writing sucks). But I too, have suffered most of my life. I try to laugh it off and make fun of myself , but deep isn't funny. It is a huge part of my life and I want to help my kids understand it so if (heaven forbid) they have inherited my demons, they will know how to love themselves.

    thank you for this post.

  21. MommyJ said...

    I worked in a presidency at church once with a woman who has battled depression, as well as an anxiety disorder her entire life. Now, as an adult, she is very active in educating others and making them aware of what it really means to deal with these issues. She is an awesome person and taught me so much.

    Fortunately I've never had to deal with anything like this, but I have SO much respect for people that do, and still keep their head up.

    Awesome post.

  22. Jillene said...

    THIS IS THE BEST POST EVER!! I love you. I love your honesty. I LOVE THIS POST!!

  23. in time out said...

    Thank you for this. I needed to read it. I am in this place too. Have not been blogging much, and very overwhelmed. I feel it is a blessing that you have spoken out here. I really needed to read this....and to stop hiding.


  24. Barbaloot said...

    I hear depression gets better if you give me chocolate... And maybe that's me pretending that it's really not a rampant problem that family members and other loved ones deal with.

  25. DeNae said...

    Well you know I've been there and done that. But it is so prevalent in my family it's the furthest thing from taboo to talk about it. Of course, nothing is taboo with us, so there you go.

    You can't pray this away, but I did find when I got my spiritual life to a point where I felt that I had done all I could to receive direction, the direction came.

    And it was "You're sick. Get help."

    Love my meds. Love my supportive spouse. And love wonderful, honest friends like you MB.

  26. Atelier said...

    I definitely needed that today. Thank you.

  27. Circe said...

    I know, ever since I posted that PPD thing, I feel like I'm lying if I say I'm doing great. I really am doing great. But that day I felt like I was losing my mind. It's hard to admit when you feel out of control. I'm glad you recognize it enough to keep it at bay. I hope you have a great school year!

  28. Judi said...

    Thank you Miss Cousin of Mine!
    You put into words what I can't yet!
    It is a very taboo subject and I am hoping to break that by posting more about my struggles...♥♥

  29. zoo keeper said...

    i wish we could just be.
    sometimes I'm not peppy or perky and in those lows comes the tidal wave. every corner of my life tells me not so subtly how much better i could be. There are times i ride the waves and times i drowned, but only for a time. I think we all are this way some just hide it better then others.....and some of us talk about it...for me knowing that I'm not alone does help me to remember that I'm NOT alone.
    p.s. i like to think it's taboo for those who think they're hiding it better but we know better ;o) Now to get my crazy lady a name......

  30. Lynne's Somewhat Invented Life said...

    Perhaps ninety percent of the population struggle with depression at one time or another. Right now I'm doing "brain training" with Harmony House in Orem. The main web site is called Brain State Technology-- Monday was a fabulous session and I haven't felt that good in years. I finally have hope that the depression can be gone, for good. This technology cures addictions too. I'm hoping my sugar addiction will go along with the depression. There is a 42 minute video on the site that is great. I've watched it three times.

    I sympathize with you. Only someone who has had depression understands. It is an evil thing. I applaud you, stating the facts and showing us Estelle. May she be stuffed in a freezer and shipped off to Siberia.

  31. SO said...

    Thanks so much for posting this. I've been struggling with depression since my dad died. And, if I'm honest with myself a little bit before that.

    It's not something that I understand very well. And it's frustrating.

    I love that you gave yours a name and a face. And it's good to know that I'm not alone.

  32. Kim said...

    Must be something in the air...I posted about depression not too long ago also. It is not who I am, just a part of who I am. I am sure my kiddos will suffer from it, and I hope they know it's ok and that they can come off conqueror.

  33. M-Cat said...

    I so get you! Battled it my whole life. Meds are wonderful and I can finally function with some sort of saneness.
    I'm tired of it being taboo. I'm tired of the well intended advice of just doing more spiritual things and I can be healed.
    It's a health challenge just like diabetes, high cholesterol etc.

    I love knowing that there are others who deal with the same thing, and don't we sometimes hide it well?? : )

  34. Kado! said...

    I'm on team Kristina P.....NOT team Tom Cruise on this one!!! ;)

    ...we all feel that way....I bottle things up..that is why I don't often blog about my when I'm not posting...I'm either really busy...or really depressed....;)

  35. Jan said...

    Thanks for being brave enough to share. My hubs is battling with this too and it is hard enough without having to deal with the social/spiritual stigma too.

  36. Lady of Perpetual Chaos said...

    It really does have such a stigma which, considering how many people it affects, is ridiculous. And I unfortunately know just how you feel. It makes no sense and shows no mercy. It's terribly frustrating trying to find something that will actually help you get back to being you. Maybe I should try naming it and finding a picture?! I also worry that my kids will struggle with it as well. The worst...when my sweet 4 year old was saying family prayer and prayed that Mommy would be happy tomorrow. Ripped my heart right out.

  37. Debbie said...

    What I hate the most is people dont get it. And they're not only quick to judge but quick to comment on their judgment. Like, wow I have never thought about that super incredibly simple idea. I'll just be happy cause you said so. Thanks. It's frustrating to add that to everything else. In any case I hope that possibly that makes it easier for those that experience things like this will be more willing to understand the next time. Great post.

  38. Alisa said...

    I'm bipolar and I know what you mean when you can't tell the difference from you and the bipolar. Or is there a difference? Or at times, am I bipolar at all? Then of course there's a major reminder that yes, this is part of my life and yes, it will be as long as I live this life.
    I've tried to be very open about my illness because it keeps me sane. If I talk about it with others it's not so scary. Hiding it only makes it more daunting. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I did not choose to be this way but you know what? I'm doing a pretty darn good job dealing with what I have.

  39. Alyson (New England Living) said...

    I TOTALLY understand! It's a horrible thing to battle and I battle it all the time.

    I agree with you about the attitudes in the church. I hate they think you can do service for someone else and then you'll "get over" your depression. It's not like you're depressed because you are a selfish, evil person.

  40. Rebecca said...

    Wow. You are so brave, it is indeed so hard to talk about depression. Most people fear it, because they don't understand it. Which they are blessed if they don't - because most likely they have never had to deal with it!

    I first got hit hard with the reality of depression when I was 17. I wrote a poem of how I felt, called Emotions. I have written several since on my Poetry Blog (which is still in the works, I'm adding all my poetry on there slowly but surely. I have 500+ poems! ). I have found poetry to be the most soothing outlet for my sometimes 'crazy' mind.

    I have consistently been seeing a counselor ever since that year I got hit hard with Depression. I have since learned that having depression is a Creative Person's most favored gift. Without those extreme feelings - we would not be able to FEEL the art. To be able to create for others a sense of beauty, because we have SOOOOO much power inside our minds, just aching to be let out - that we define it as 'craze' when it's actually a gift. ♥

    My thoughts may be out of order, I have a huge head-ache right now. But I totally 'feel ya'. I know what depression is like for me, which may not be the same for you. But take my word, it's a blessing - not a curse. But sometimes it CAN feel like a curse. I would suggest writing it out in poetry form- you just might find a new talent born through it. :)

  41. AS Amber said...

    I swear if ONE MORE person tells me to just "cheer up" I'm gonna punch them right in the face!!!

    I had cancer. I took chemotherapy. I have depression. I'll take meds for that too. Probably for the rest of my life. I think Prozac should be filtered into the water in Utah.

    I told Sherrie that Zanex (sp?) should be, too.

    Either that or tequila.

    Love you, MB!!!

    WV: adourgy. "Depression is not adourgy word anymore."

  42. Sher said...

    Well, you know I've been there. And I'm so grateful for blogging because it's given me a tool to feel safe talking about it, and knowing that other people feel the way I do.

    I worry about my kids "catching" it too. My mom was depressed. My sisters get depressed. I don't know if it is learned or in my blood.

    I'm glad I have a friend like you to talk to!

  43. tiburon said...

    Well I think you already know how I feel about that...

  44. Jane of Seagull Fountain said...

    I think it's possible to both be filled with God's love and be unbearably sad. Even Jesus wept!

    I don't think I have clinical depression, but I have suffered from some situational depressions after difficult . . . situations (like miscarriages, surgery, etc). It helps me to kind of let myself be sad, sleep more, take things easy for awhile (like weeks), and know that eventually I'll feel better.

    I don't know how I'd deal with depression that was unattached to events. I hope you get/seek all the help you need!

    (great post!)

  45. Jo said...

    I used to be one of ones who thought, "they just need to do something, get over it". Yeah. Then, my world tumbled down and everything turned black. I learned to be grateful for the sun and to take my pill every single day, because I love being me and I miss me when I am not.

  46. One Cluttered Brain said...

    I liked this blog entry so much I blogged about YOU today on my blog and directed people to this entry. THANK YOU for being so honest about depression! MY husband battles depression and now I can't claim I know what depression is like personally, I can feel your pain. Thanks for sharing! Your blog about Mr. Toshiba was good too. I feel your pain there too. Is your labtop fixed now?

  47. Debbie D said...

    I found you via One Cluttered Brain. You are amazing. And guess what, you don't have to be happy all the time. I give you permission to feel however you are feeling. Wait, I lied. You are not allowed to feel guilty for something you can not control. Peace to you.