Saturday, December 12, 2009

It's a Long One, But If You Love Me, You'll Read It

Posted by Lara at 7:36 PM
I think it's hard for most people to understand what it's like to really, genuinely hate life. It's not the same as just being negative, so "Think positive!" won't fix it. And it's not the same as just being sad, so "Cheer up!" won't fix it. And it's not the same as thinking life is something other than what it is, so "Count your blessings!" won't fix it either. I am well aware of my blessings, and I can "think positive" and try to "cheer up" all I want, but I still hate life right now. And if we're being really honest here, I kind of just want to die.

I hate life and I want to die. That thought runs through my head multiple times per day lately.

I think my depression might be back.

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Tpiglette and I went to help out with our former a cappella group recently, to listen to a rehearsal of theirs and give feedback before their big winter show. While there, I realized that when I joined the group in the fall of 2000, many people in that room were in middle school. I am almost 10 years older than the youngest members of the current group. And when they started singing through "old songs" just for fun, ever single song they sang came and went in the time since I left the group; not a one of them knew any of the songs we sang when I was in the group - my songs are so old they can't even be considered when it's time to sing "old songs."

As if that weren't enough to depress me - not that I need specific provocation, since I'm depressed all the time these days - remember the guys I talked about in this post? Well, HTG is engaged now, as you might remember learning back here. And the super young boy? He still haunts me sometimes with his devilish good looks and devil-may-care attitude, but I am mostly able to just not think about him these days, because he really is way too young for me.

But that third guy? The tall grad student? Yeah, he and I had a few good moments where I feel like maybe if I'd been brave enough to ask him out we might have stood a chance, but I never was so we didn't. And then he started dating a girl from the group, closer to his age. And they've been dating about nine months. And I saw them at the rehearsal, and of course, they're engaged. I know, right? He's about 3 years younger than I am, she's maybe 5 years younger, and they're engaged and I'm single.

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I was supposed to go on a school trip to Disneyland in January, a trip I went on last year as well. It's ridiculously fun, getting to hang out with the kids at the "happiest place on earth," plus there are fun workshops to attend as well. It was the one bright spot between now and June, the one truly fun event I was really looking forward to.

And then I found out I don't get to go.

And why don't I get to go? Because the four staff members who DO get to go all want to bring their spouses. Okay, first of all, I personally think it's unfair that spouses get priority over staff to go on field trips. In general, I'd have to say I know these kids way better than the spouses do, and that the kids would rather hang out with me than their music teacher's wife. And even if that weren't true, shouldn't staff get priority on paid field trip chaperone jobs? I mean, we're staff, that should be a job perk for all the hard work we do all year. But instead, someone's husband or wife who doesn't work for our school at all gets a free trip to Disneyland with a bunch of kids they don't know or love like I do.

I suppose if I wanted to I could take this to the administration and make the complaint, but I'd feel like a jerk, especially because the drama teacher is a great friend of mine. I'd feel like a real bitch going to my boss whining about my friend bringing her husband on the trip. Like, "Hey, friend! I love you, but I'm totally going to rat you out in the hopes that you won't be allowed to bring your husband on the trip, even though I bet you really want to spend that time with him. Please don't be mad! Let's hang out next week!" Yeah, that'd go over real well, I'm sure.

So instead, I'm back to counting down to June, when this horrible year finally ends, because the one bright spot in it has now been taken from me.

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This same drama teacher I mentioned, she's getting married in two weeks. (Hence her "husband" by January when the Disney trip comes around.) So we had a bridal shower for her Friday after school, a bunch of the female staff from school. I was incredibly depressed already, with my general day-to-day depression lately combined with the horrible news of not going to Disneyland. Then, while we were sitting around after opening presents, our hostess asked if any of the married ladies had any advice to give. And that's when it hit me:

Every single person in that room was married except the soon-to-be-married guest of honor, me, and the infant daughter of a fellow guest.

Wow. That was helpful, huh? Yeah, and it's not like they were all old either. No, there were people my age and even younger, yet all married. Just me and a baby, the only two single girls in the room. One of us has significantly more time than the other to get a move on in the boyfriend department.

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I feel bad for the people around me. I am a NASTY, HORRIBLE person when I'm mired in depression like this, and it's a wonder to me that anyone still talks to me. Especially people like Tpiglette, who've dealt with me being like this on and off for years, and who has to see me every single day and deal with my horrendous moodiness.

It's no fun being friends with someone who's depressed. You know how you always want to help the people you love? How it hurts you to see them hurting? How when you know they have problems you just want to fix them? When that person is depressed, everything you do to help fails miserably, if it doesn't go so far as to even make it worse. My friends offer suggestions for ways I can make things better, and all I do is talk about why they won't work. Or why it's too hard to do them. Or why I don't even care enough to try. And I don't say any of this nicely. I snap and I sneer and I snark. I roll my eyes and huff a lot. I'm generally ungrateful and hard-hearted.

If I'm not flat-out mean in response to people's attempts at kindness and encouragement, I cry, which is most of the reason I remain so mean. I don't want to start crying every time someone asks, "Are you okay?" Because they see that I'm not okay, and I know they see it, and I know I'm not okay, so as soon as they ask my throat closes up and I want to cry. Instead, I harden my exterior and make some sarcastic remark about how awful life is but how I'm used to it, and I hope they leave me alone with my meanness. If they don't, I get meaner and meaner until they do, or, if I'm feeling charitable, I fake a smile and try to change the subject.

All in all, those of us struggling with depression are horrible, horrible people.

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I keep telling myself that I need to call a psychiatrist and talk about possibly going back on medication. Although at the bridal shower I heard that we women have problems talking to our friends or taking an antidepressant instead of bringing our problems to the Lord, so maybe I'm just not taking enough of my problems to the Lord.

Mostly I know that's not true. That's like telling someone with a broken leg not to have it set in a cast, that if he just prays real hard God will heal the leg on His own. While I don't doubt that God CAN do such a thing, we generally assume that it's up to us to do our part when we can. So isn't depression the same thing? Isn't depression a genuine health concern? Shouldn't I do something more than pray for God to heal me? Something like seek professional help?

Yes, I should, but I'm too scared to do so. I hate being broken. I hate being unable to function on my own. It makes me a failure - I fail at life. And I hate thinking about going to someone and saying, "I'm a big, fat, broken mess. Help fix me."

But if I don't say that, do I ever get unbroken?

19 comments:

franz the mouse said...

Random thoughts:

1. This is a really well written piece. Flowing prose. Precise description. Incredibly self aware. Your writing always has these qualities, of course, but they are on special display in this post -- I suppose because the focus is your thoughts rather than a funny anecdote.

2. Medication! Psychiatrist! You have health insurance (hopefully everyone will soon): use it! For amplification on this topic, see remark 5.

3. I agree with you about Disneyland trip chaperons: clearly staff have priority, if for no other reason than they are best suited to accompany the students.

4. Why not cry (assuming you're not between classes or something) when your best friends ask how you are? Still, I think most of us who have friends who are or have been depressed understand the meanness part.

5. Oh, yeah, and MEDICATION! PSYCHIATRIST! Think of your brain as hardware: some circuits are shorting out or experiencing destructive feedback or something: time to have it tuned up. Sure, there is an underlying trigger: you're unhappy being single, and perhaps there are other things too. But catastrophic, long-term depression -- rather than just sadness or frustration or whatever -- is a hardware failure! Get it fixed! You'll make researchers like Prof. Sapolsky of Stanford happy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOAgplgTxfc

gnomesque on 3:54 AM said...

I agree with franz the mouse.

Asking for help is hard. But so is life. You can't fight every battle on your own. You're struggling with this one, so find the support you need to fight that depression and get back on track.

Carly on 6:54 AM said...

Go see your psychiatrist as soon as possible. There is no shame in getting the help that you need.

Rachel on 7:02 AM said...

I know how hard it is to make the call. I hope this therapeutic post helps you make it.

Middle Aged Woman on 8:39 AM said...

Stop punishing yourself. SEE the psychiatrist and get back on the meds. There is no emergence from this without first correcting the brain chemistry. I take Cymbalta, 90 mg daily. and it saves my life. Literally. I think the Lord is thinking, "I sent you a boat. Why didn't you use it?"

Stefka on 8:40 AM said...

hi Lara,
First and foremost, you are not a failure!! (Just a reminder to go EASY on yourself...) That said, I've beaten myself up most of my adulthood for "failing" at life, and so I do understand what it's like to exist in that space. I've been blessed with brains, two degrees, and wonderful family and friends, yet I've struggled with debt and low-paying jobs for 18 years (I'm 39). Oh yeah, and I'm still single. It's been SO hard to try and explain to people what it's like to exist in my world, with the thoughts that run through my head and the emotions that pierce my heart. So I empathize completely with what you're going through, Lara.

The best advice I can give is to keep reaching out and discover how to be happy with yourself. After years of off and on therapy (w/ different people), journaling, jobs/school, jobs, living in 5 states, I finally found my key last year- I've had undiagnosed ADD. (Adults with ADD are "chronically overwhelmed with everyday life" to quote one source, and when it goes undiagnosed in women it often leads to depression and anxiety. A great resource is help4adhd.org)

Anyway - the key will be different for each person, and the important thing is to keep searching and not try to do it all on your own. While I definitely still struggle (and am only partially employed, living w/ my mom!) and take meds, I now have an inner peace that was missing for the first 38 years of my life.

Take care, Lara. Don't give up or settle for a "just OK" life. The journey is worth it!!!

Jill B on 8:44 AM said...

I understand.

BetteJo on 10:08 AM said...

I'm really confused and concerned - with your history, why were you OFF the medication?

So many people who struggle with depression (like me) take meds until they feel better and then go off of it. I have done that myself.

But now, and forgive me if I have said this here before - you will have to pry my meds out of my cold dead hands some day because I will NEVER go off them willingly.

Having said that - please don't think of yourself as broken. Have you ever thought about what a miracle it is that more of us don't have glitches here and there? That all it takes to make a body function usually does - in most people?

So you have a chemical disorder. Because that's what it is. You need meds to replace a chemical you lack. So big deal. You take your meds in the morning as part of your routine like brushing your teeth or your hair.

Please go back on the meds Lara. It's a crime to sink back down to where you are when you have the ability to be where you need to be chemically.

It does not mean you are any less valuable as a human being or any less desirable as a woman.

The sad thing is - I KNOW you already know this stuff.

Mrs. Chili on 11:54 AM said...

Get thee to a doctor, NOW!

Graham on 1:34 PM said...

God helps those who help themselves, as they say, right? So pray to Him for the strength to do what you need to do to get through this. You and He are in this as a team, but for most of us he more often works through helpful people (psychiatrists, friends, etc.) than through direct miracles. So part of your job is to just try to make yourself more available to more of that help, which to me means more prayer and more action, both. *hugs*

tpiglette on 6:38 PM said...

On the last topic, you're absolutely right. Your analogy about the broken leg is a great one. And I definitely don't think the bridal shower person meant her comment to be taken in that way. Yes, depression is a genuine health concern, and yes, I agree that God would want us to do our part (and get help) when we can. You are NOT a horrible person or a failure in the ways that you fear. At the end of the day, though, we could all use the reminder because, really, we ALL have to turn to God and say, "I'm a big, fat, broken mess. Help fix me." That's part of the difficulty (and the paradox) of the Christian life...learning to see/think of ourselves neither more nor less than God does.

I know you know all this, so I'll just end by reminding you that I love you.

tali said...

Um, what Franz said. Your writing is tremendous, and even though you're struggling, I can also tell that you know what to do (medication! psychiatrist!). Even if you're doubting, I know you're strong enough to do what you need to do to get better. And even if you feel like you have failed (which is NOT true) always know that you still deserve to get better. You owe it to yourself, because you are worth it.
*Hugs*

jennster on 2:41 PM said...

you really like to beat yourself up. and you know better.. i know you know better, but i think it's easier to say and write mean and awful things about ourselves.
there is nothing wrong with being broken.
there is something wrong with not wanting to fix it.
but you want to fix it. and i know you know you need help to do it.
so go do it.
there is no shame in seeking help when you can't become unbroken on your own.
it's not fair to yourself to live your life this way.... in this state... thinking these thoughts.. if you don't HAVE too. right?
so go do what needs to be done to feel ok.
you will be better off for it.. and happier. and more balanced.

and that will be a beautiful thing.

then you can thank god for the meds. :)

Teacher Anonymous on 11:55 PM said...

Time for the drugs, m'dear. Not that admitting to having problems is easy. Last time I was in the hospital they asked if I had ever been depressed and I totally denied it, as I didn't want them keeping an extra close eye on me. At least you get to expose your vulnerabilities and imperfections to this warm and loving crowd.

Also? Spouses should totally have to pay their own way on school field trips.

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Anonymous said...

Earlier this month, George Stephanopoulos became the new host of Good Morning America, and in his autobiography, All To Human, he discusses taking antidepressants. So if someone as as smart and sensible as him found it helpful to take them, it's probably a good idea. Before reading this entry, I just read about Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO, with perhaps the most impressive resume of anyone 40 or under, joining the board at Disney. Her Wikipedia page links to this 2004 wedding announcement in the NYT http://bit.ly/7wfhLC and she was 34. And now she's happily married with two kids, so you've got plenty of time.

Momma to LG on 6:22 PM said...

Oh girl.....I have been gone too long so I am just catching up. I HATE that you are feeling this way. If it makes you feel any better, my husband and I just separated so now I am the single girl too (smile pls!).

Coffee soon? You know I am near you!

Major Bedhead on 4:55 PM said...

Listen to me: YOU are not a horrible person. DEPRESSION is horrible and it makes all of us act in horrible ways to the people who want to help us the most. It SUCKS ASS.

Medication. Psychiatrist. I'm echoing franz the mouse here because it's true. If you had diabetes or high blood pressure, you'd see your doctor and take your medications every day. Depression is the same thing - it requires attention and help. I know it's hard to get up off your duff when you're mired the way you are right now, but please, please make the effort. And if you can't do it, please ask Tpiglette to do it for you.

Hang in there. I've been where you are and it's truly awful.

Elizabeth Rose on 9:34 PM said...

I'm so sorry to hear that you've been suffering with depression! I hope that your meeting with the psychiatrist went well - judging from your post the other day, I figure you've probably had it by now. Way to go getting that set up! I hope you'll soon be on the mend!

A few months ago I read a book on depression for my doula training. It was excellent and really gave me a different and better perspective on the disease. One of the biggest things I took away with me was the importance of recognizing the symptoms of depressions as just that - symptoms of a disease just like sniffles with a cold or a fever with an infection. Sadly too many people disregard the emotional symptoms and don't recognize them as specifically arising because of the disease instead, they tend to make judgements about a person's character. Just as it would be silly to say that you are a bad person for coughing during an important meeting if you are suffering from bronchitis, so it would be just plain wrong to say that you are a horrible person because you are feeling angry, inadequate, sensitive, sad, guilty... because of depression. My prayer for you is that when you get frustrated with the symptoms you are experiencing, that you would be able to recognize that they are only symptoms of a disease which you are currently dealing with, not aspects of your ongoing personality or character. As soon as your body is able to defeat this disease, they will disappear along with it.

Here's a list of some emotional symptoms from the book for you to keep in mind (hopefully they'll soon be all far from you!): inadequacy, sadness, guilt, isolation, anger, resentment, shame, loss of control, lack of confidence, feeling 'I'm not myself', being overwhelmed, depletion, poor concentration, loneliness, helplessness, anxiety, fear, hopelessness, worthlessness, irritability, low self-esteem, oversensitivity, confusion, extreme agitation, inability to laugh

Wishing you all the best! ~Elizabeth

 

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