I have been on a downward spiral for the past couple days, and things came to a head last night.
I cried myself to sleep and even though I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in almost a year, I woke up this morning feeling incredibly hungover.
I had stabbing pain behind both if my eyes, I couldn’t focus on anything, everything was foggy, and eventually I was just spontaneously bursting into tears.
Last week I shared this post that was going around Facebook:
When you have depression it’s like it snows every day.
Some days it’s only a couple of inches. It’s a pain in the a**, but you still make it to work, the grocery store. Sure, maybe you skip the gym or your friend’s birthday party, but it IS still snowing and who knows how bad it might get tonight. Probably better to just head home.
Your friend notices, but probably just thinks you are flaky now, or kind of an a**hole.
Some days it snows a foot. You spend an hour shovelling out your driveway and are late to work. Your back and hands hurt from shovelling. You leave early because it’s really coming down out there. Your boss notices.
Some days it snows four feet. You shovel all morning but your street never gets ploughed.
You are not making it to work, or anywhere else for that matter. You are so sore and tired you just get back in the bed. By the time you wake up, all your shovelling has filled back in with snow. Looks like your phone rang; people are wondering where you are.
You don’t feel like calling them back, too tired from all the shovelling. Plus they don’t get this much snow at their house so they don’t understand why you’re still stuck at home. They just think you’re lazy or weak, although they rarely come out and say it.
Some weeks it’s a full-blown blizzard. When you open your door, it’s to a wall of snow. The power flickers, then goes out. It’s too cold to sit in the living room anymore, so you get back into bed with all your clothes on. The stove and microwave won’t work so you eat a cold Pop Tart and call that dinner. You haven’t taken a shower in three days, but how could you at this point? You’re too cold to do anything except sleep.
Sometimes people get snowed in for the winter. The cold seeps in. No communication in or out. The food runs out. What can you even do, tunnel out of a forty foot snow bank with your hands? How far away is help? Can you even get there in a blizzard? If you do, can they even help you at this point? Maybe it’s death to stay here, but it’s death to go out there too.
The thing is, when it snows all the time, you get worn all the way down. You get tired of being cold. You get tired of hurting all the time from shovelling, but if you don’t shovel on the light days, it builds up to something unmanageable on the heavy days. You resent the hell out of the snow, but it doesn’t care, it’s just a blind chemistry, an act of nature. It carries on regardless, unconcerned and unaware if it buries you or the whole world.
Also, the snow builds up in other areas, places you can’t shovel, sometimes places you can’t even see. Maybe it’s on the roof. Maybe it’s on the mountain behind the house. Sometimes, there’s an avalanche that blows the house right off its foundation and takes you with it. A veritable Act of God, nothing can be done. The neighbours say it’s a shame and they can’t understand it; he was doing so well with his shovelling…
…I don’t have a message for people with depression like “keep shovelling”. It’s asinine. Of course you’re going to keep shovelling the best you can, until you physically can’t, because who wants to freeze to death inside their own house? We know what the stakes are. My message is to everyone else. Grab a f***ing shovel and help your neighbour. Slap a mini snow plow on the front of your truck and plough your neighbourhood. Petition the city council to buy more salt trucks, so to speak.
Depression is blind chemistry and physics, like snow. And like the weather, it is a mindless process, powerful and unpredictable with great potential for harm. But like climate change, that doesn’t mean we are helpless. If we want to stop losing so many people to this disease, it will require action at every level.
Yesterday a blizzard rolled in.
And this morning I opened the front door to a wall of snow and I just wanted to slam it shut and begin a long hibernation.
I texted my husband.
I’m so tired. Everything is always so hard. It never stops being hard.
I’m physically exhausted which is part of the problem.
But I’m also emotionally exhausted. It’s largely situational, but I’m worn down.
I haven’t felt this low in quite a while.
I realize I am also having massive anxiety regarding the kids being home for the summer.
Our last day of school isn’t until June 29th so I still have few days left, but the thought of having them all home all day every day for the next two months is completely overwhelming to me right now.
If I were in a different frame of mind I realize I wouldn’t be so completely freaked out.
But I’m panicking a little bit right now.
I had to leave the house today at 1:30 for Number 5’s recorder concert which is hard enough to motivate yourself to go to when your spirits are high, and I had a swim lesson to teach here at home at 5:30.
I literally spent the whole morning wondering how I was going to get myself out the door for the concert.
My husband couldn’t leave work so he couldn’t go, and my dad was playing golf so he couldn’t go and my mom was like, “Ummmm, Recorder concert? I don’t think I’ll be going.”
So I couldn’t get anyone else to go instead.
Plus Number 5 would have been crushed if I didn’t show up, and that’s what got me out the door.
Knowing how happy Number 5 would be when she saw me walk into the music room.
It took me about a half hour to get clothes on and get out the door.
I cried while I got my clothes on and I cried while I drove to the school.
But I got there.
I came home as soon as the concert was done into the safety of home and immediately started dreading my swim lesson.
I wanted to cancel so badly and hide in my bed, but I need the money and it was my first lesson with this family and I didn’t want to appear to be a total flake job on the first day.
I checked my phone every five minutes hoping to see a message that they had to cancel, but that never showed up.
And at 5:25 this cute little blond boy knocked on my door, ready for his first lesson.
I summoned every ounce of strength and gave him a big smile.
And for thirty minutes I did not think about myself. I focused on this cute and funny little guy who had his own anxieties in the water.
For thirty minutes the stabbing pain behind my eyes was gone, and for thirty minutes I felt normal and was able to focus on something other than how shitty I felt.
We had a great lesson.
The boy’s mom was super appreciative and she thanked me warmly and sincerely for helping her son.
Little did she know, she and her son helped me much more than I helped them.
That lesson forced me to focus on something other than how much I was suffering.
Now that the lesson is over and I’m back inside, it’s definitely still snowing outside.
But now I’m ready to start shoveling again.