You Can’t Be Superman…

You just can’t

So I’m participating in NaBloPoMo this year. There are lots of places you can go to get inspiration, in the form of prompts, quotes, questions, etc. You get the idea. One such prompt I came across was “Blog about something that is your greatest hurdle in life”.

Profound. I could list the material things: our house is too small, our finances are tight (and really, in this economy, so are a lot of other people’s finances), I still feel like I’m too fat though I have held at 152 for a while now and 152 is precisely 65lbs better than 217…

But those material things are not my biggest hurdle. Those are not the obstacles I consider to be all-consuming and insurmountable. Motherhood is not a hurdle for me. Despite what you’ll read in a post tomorrow, I *know* I am a good mom, even if right now I don’t feel that way. My biggest hurdle is *myself*. If you decide to come back for tomorrow’s post, you’ll get a glimpse as to why. But the greatest tests in my life have been my episodes of depression.

Well-meaning people with the best of intentions have tried to help me claw my way out of the abyss. Most people seem to think that ‘fixing’ depression is a matter of mental mindset. If you keep your outlook sunny and bright, it will go away.

No the freaking flippity-flap it won’t. See, there are many things that can cause depression, many reasons for people to be depressed, and all of those reasons fall under three different categories:

Hormonal (as in postpartum depression, which is apparently no longer PPD when your kid reaches 2 years of age, so I no longer have PPD, my hormones are supposed to be okay now. When it was PPD, I had something to blame. Stupid hormones. Now? I’m just depressed for no ‘good’ fracking reason. Makes me feel worse, to be honest.).

Situational (death of a loved one, losing a job…you get the idea), and Chemical (your brain isn’t producing the happy chemicals/is producing but not absorbing the happy chemicals). Oh…four. Because there’s this thing called Seasonal Affective Disorder that is caused due to…I’m not sure, honestly. I think it has something to do with the sun and how the sun’s rays don’t just have radiation but also good things too that your body reacts to, and lack of that can give you depression. It hits in the winter, when the amount of sunlight during the day is at its lowest, and people who already have a tendency towards depression are susceptible to it.

I have suffered, at various points in my life, with all three, and I suspect that the depression that hits me every single winter may be undiagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I’m not a doctor, and I just don’t feel like adding yet another condition to what seems to be an ever-growing list of my health problems.

Anyways. I’m getting off track. Right now, I am having a combination of Chemical and Situational that have ganged up on me and brought on my winter depression six weeks early.

And I just want to make something clear. There is no ‘fixing’ depression. Not for me…not this kind. There are things that help me cope a little better, and there are things that can make me flip from “I’m cool, I got this” to “Mother of God. DefCon 10, the  despair levels are over 9000…screw you, Jack, I’m letting go!” in a fairly short amount of time. For me at least, depression, no matter what has induced it, is a waiting game, of utilizing my coping skills (thank you, therapy) to the best of my ability, holding on for dear life, and hoping it passes quickly.

You can’t fix it. Don’t even try. It’s a different beast than the girl who declares she wants to crawl in a hole and die because some jerkoff eighth-grader stood up in the cafeteria and shouted “I don’t like you! I’ll never like you!” after she mustered up the courage to confess she liked him (yeah, that girl was me…). Situational depression, the situations that are exacerbating my chemical depression at least, can be changed to make this elephant on my back weigh just a little less. The most successful coping mechanism I have for situational depression is to remove myself from the situations and try to absorb all the solitude that I can, just so I can have more resources free to cope with the Chemical depression.

I understand that it’s frustrating to cope with me, to cope with a loved one who is seriously struggling with something that, for all your good intentions and attempts, you cannot fix. I go through something similar watching SG struggle with things that come easily to her neurotypical peers. The anger is staggering, and heartbreaking, and it isn’t directed at her. It is anger stemming from helplessness, the inability to just reach in and make the brain do what 95% of the other human brains on this planet do. No pep talk will make everything click for her. Telling me to count my blessings won’t work. Trust me. I’ve counted my blessings every day a thousand times over, before lunchtime. Telling me it could be worse won’t work. It only frustrates and reminds me that yes, I feel like I’m going through an emotional firing squad, and there’s really no one huge reason for me to feel the way I feel, but yet I feel this way, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t break out of it. Other people in this world have it worse than me, and I freaking know that, but being reminded of that is a slap in the face that only makes me feel worse. I should be happy, why can’t I be happy? I must be a horrible person, this enforces that. That’s what “It could be worse” does to me when I’m in a depression.

Say it with me: I can’t fix you, Merry. This is far beyond my capability and that hurts me because you are still hurting and I can’t fix that. The only thing I can do is give you the time, space, love, and support you need to use those coping skills to the best levels you can. I will be your guide through the darkness, I’ll light the path so that while your journey may not be quicker, you won’t be blinded in the nothingness, and you won’t ever, for one second, be alone, even if you feel you are alone and so very lost.

And I would reply that I know you can’t fix this. I never expected you to.


4 responses to “You Can’t Be Superman…

  1. This blog posts says so many wonderful things about depression. I think one great thing is that it can hopefully take some of the pressure off of care-takers/friends/family to try and fix the person with depression. As you say, it is not that simple. If it was, no one would be depressed for very long.

    • Exactly. Ask anyone who has ever struggled through any kind of true depression if they *want* or *like* to feel the way they do…and even though they will readily admit that sometimes, the abyss holds a semblance of comfort simply because it is familiar, not one will tell you that they choose to feel the way they feel. Reminding them that others are worse off will only ever make them feel worse because we *know* we shouldn’t feel this way, but we can’t just make it stop. There wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar industry dedicated to medicating the symptoms if people could just simply “snap out of it”.

  2. Good luck on the NaBloPoMo! And what a great post about depression. My husband has an anxiety disorder so I kind of understand. People are always thinking he can just talk himself out of it. One family member says if he just had enough faith he’d be better. Others tell him, “But there’s nothing here to be anxious about. Just think calm thoughts.” I just hold him until it passes 🙂 But I know it will be back.

    • I failed NaBlo rather horrifically, but apparently it isn’t as ‘set’ as NaNo, so it can be attempted during any month.

      While spirituality has helped me at times, it isn’t a cure-all. Depression and other mental illnesses do not see race, gender, sexuality, age, or religion. They can afflict anyone, anywhere, at any time. It’s very hard for someone who hasn’t been through it, or had a loved one go through it, to understand.

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