It’s been awhile.
I wish I had some grand reason for my absence. Like I’ve had a loaded social calendar or I’ve been extremely busy traveling the globe.
Instead I’ve been traveling the depths of hell. Otherwise known as depression.
For a solid month I’ve felt horrible. The worst I’ve ever felt depression-wise. I’ve tried my best to hide it as much as I can. Fake smiles and lots of “I’m doing good!” and trying to stay active. I tried to write. I really did. But, when you are so sick of your own self and your own thoughts, I just couldn’t imagine anyone else taking pleasure in hearing it too. Who wants to come here and read a bunch of negative shit? I wouldn’t. Negative thoughts are so draining and I don’t want to be responsible for putting that kind of attitude out there in the world. So, I just didn’t write.
So, why write about it now? Because I feel like I’m finally on the other side of it. I am finding my normal again. If I can ever be considered normal, anyway. We can call it Allison-normal.
I wouldn’t wish depression on anyone. It’s ugly and hard and exhausting and if you’ve never experienced it, you have no idea how awful it can be. On top of the actual depressing nature of it, it is also such an alone and isolated place to be. And, it’s a weird alone. You are surrounded by people and it’s like you are drowning and no one can see it or screaming and no one can hear it.
I decided to write about it today because I want to share my experience. To show others that you aren’t alone. Too many people are too quiet about depression and feel like they have to hide it out of shame or embarrassment. I think when we feel like we have to hide a part of ourselves we end up putting way too much pressure on ourselves and eventually it catches up with us. Depression isn’t wrong, it doesn’t make you a bad person, and we shouldn’t feel ashamed that sometimes we fight wars against our own selves.
I don’t know what happened. What triggered this round of depression. Maybe nothing happened. Sometimes that’s the way it works for me. I can be strolling along and then one day I am overwhelmed with feelings that I can’t explain. There is probably some underlying, significant psychological trigger that comes into play. I probably have several of those and I will probably always struggle with this because of circumstances that I’m not going to share here. At least not today.
Sorry to be vague.
I do my best to work hard at becoming the person I want to be, that I choose to be, and not letting certain circumstances shape me. I wish it was easier, but sometimes there are things from my past that bubble back up to the surface and remind me that life can often times be a giant asshole and the people we have crossed paths with can be cruel and selfish.
For the last month I have switched from living my life to simply trying to survive my life. I get that to some that might sound a little extreme, but it’s true. Some days survival meant smiling as I sent my kids off to school each morning and then hiding under the covers and staying in my bed all day while they were gone. Other days it meant blaring music trying to drown out my own thoughts. On the really bad days it felt like I was struggling to breathe and I had to try to not literally beat myself up.
Have you ever been bored and scribbled recklessly on piece of paper? I remember doing that as a kid. Taking a pen and scribbling over and over until the ink was so thick it created grooves in the paper. Eventually you end up with this big blob of busy scribbles that made no sense.
That, at times, is what my brain felt like.
Like a big blob of busy scribbles that I couldn’t make any sense of and the only way to get the pen to stop was to distract myself. I remember sitting there one Sunday night watching The Walking Dead and the relief I would get when the show was on was bliss. The commercials returned me to my own personal hell where the scribbles took over and I felt like I was going to lose it.
As all of this goes on I’m trying to hide it from the people around me because I don’t want it to affect them too. I start adding more scribbles by creating pressure on myself. I would tell myself that I’m a horrible mother and that surely my kids are going to hate me and I’m going to somehow completely fuck them up. I tell myself that I’m a horrible wife because my husband is stuck with a woman that is so emotional screwed up that she’s got to be miserable to be married to. I tell myself that I will never have friends because who would want to be around me and deal with this shit. I tell myself that I will never be pretty and that I will always be fat, have an ugly, crooked smile, and always hate seeing my reflection in the mirror.
Basically I become my own personal Negan, swinging Lucille around and bashing myself to death with insults. Beating myself from the inside out. A Negan death might actually be a more humane way to go than what I was doing to myself.
The only good in my days came at night, right before I went to bed. It was the only time that I had hope. Every night I would have hope that the next day I could beat this, that the next day would be better, that surely it couldn’t get worse.
I stopped doing BJJ. This wasn’t an easy choice to make. I love it. I really do. As I sunk further into my depression, the mental toughness that is required for me just wasn’t there anymore. It’s not easy to take defeat over and over and over again. I’ve been able to handle it for eight months, but then this round of depression hit and it fucking broke me.
There were a few times that I would leave class feeling great and thinking that I was on my way to recovery and that BJJ was going to save me from the hell I was in. Then when I hit my lowest depression point I would leave class feeling like a complete failure. That I was the worst person ever at BJJ and that I would never get better. I was so focused on how bad I sucked. I would question why I was there when after five rounds of rolling with different people I was getting my ass kicked each time. Normal me can totally handle it, but depressed me felt worthless and like giving up. As much as I hate to admit it, BJJ was giving me more reasons to hate myself and to beat myself up.
So, I basically stopped doing everything. For two weeks I just let myself be. I avoided things that would give me opportunities to put myself down. I quit pressuring myself to do everything and be everything to everyone and I just let myself fucking rest from it all. I took the tools I’ve learned through therapy and mixed with a little bit of natural “medicine” I started to feel better, little by little, each day.
Today I feel like I am back to Allison-normal. All day yesterday I kept saying, I can’t believe how much better I feel. I’m looking forward to getting back to BJJ and just life in general.
You know, there are some positives to depression. Well, I guess technically it’s not the depression experience that is positive, obviously. It’s the overcoming, the surviving, the winning the war with yourself that is beneficial.
When you fall apart, when you crack and break and turn into a pile of pieces you don’t put yourself back together in the same way again. You don’t walk out of that war with yourself as the same person. You are better. You are stronger because you have been to hell and back. You have survived the days you thought you couldn’t.
You are kinder to those around you because you know that most likely we are all fighting battles that no one knows about. Most importantly, you are kinder to yourself because you have been reminded of how important it is to take care of yourself and your mental well-being.
To those that are still stuck in the muck of depression, you are not alone. F;ght on.