“Who are you?” Said the caterpillar.
“I-I hardly know just at present – at least, I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.” Alice replied.
A slow descent into depression, something I’ve struggled with since I was a teenager. I’ve had several severe bouts with it, the most recent being the entire year of 2014. Over the years I’ve learned how to recognize it and cope.
I thought this time it was situational. I thought it was caused by the volatility of my life, both the personal and professional aspects. I thought if I could just get that shit under control that I would be ok.
The problem was when everything started to stabilize around me, I still felt low. I’ve cocooned myself, saving any energy I have for only for the closest of people around me. I needed to shut down my Facebook, Discord, etc, and only reactivated when I wanted to RSVP to an event. I’ve shared a few painful moments already but it never takes long for it all to drain me and I disappear again.
“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.” said Alice to herself
A few things:
I’m in no danger of hurting myself. If you yourself ever feel that way, though, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Sometimes just hearing a voice on the other line helps.
I won’t blame the depression.
I’m frequently out of social spoons and people have noticed I’m not my boisterous self. That’s my depression. But I made some terrible decisions of which I’m ashamed. I used poor coping mechanisms. I pushed people away and I wasn’t kind about it. That wasn’t my depression.
That being said…
You can’t blame the depression either
You can’t act like an asshole and then blame someone else’s mental illness for your behavior. Someone’s depression or anxiety does not give anyone permission to treat that person carelessly.
I’m angry because what someone said and did was hurtful. My feelings and opinions are still valid.
Also this post does not absolve anyone from their behavior or comments to me.
Don’t take my silence or withdrawal personally
I need to save what little energy I have so I don’t have time to hold your hand or constantly reassure you. Recently after I deactivated all of my social media accounts, a former friend texted me angrily accusing me of blocking him. I hadn’t but in a moment of crankiness and childishness, I did go back and block him so even when I am online, he won’t be able to see me.
If you’ve reached out to check on me and make sure I’m ok, thank you. Just today I had someone text me asking me to just quickly check in so he would know I was ok.
If you haven’t, I’m ok with that too. Some people don’t know what to say or feel like I just need room.
If you’ve made it all about you, move along. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
If you block me, you do you, boo. Whatever your reasons, they are valid and I accept them.
“Which way I ought to walk from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat
“I don’t much care where…” said Alice
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you walk,” said the Cat
“so long as I get somewhere” Alice added as an explanation
“Oh you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
You can’t rescue/heal me
I need my friends to be friends, not parents or therapists. I’m collecting myself together. I’m decluttering my apartment, my mind, and my life. I’m focusing on work, family, and my intimate partners.
Here is what you can do for me
The best thing you can do is be patient and understanding. If you see me out and about, please don’t avoid me. Come say hi or wave to me across the room. If you text me, I might not respond for a long time. To my close friends… I still consider you my close friends. Remember, don’t take it personally.
“But I don’t want to go among mad people.”
“Oh, you can’t help that. We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?”
“You must be or you wouldn’t have come here.”
I’m still me
The sarcastic me. The witty me. The welcoming me. The poignant me.
Everyone is different
Depression presents itself in different ways in different people. What I have said here may not apply to you or someone you know. It is immensely difficult to love/care for someone who has a mental illness. Read up and reach out. You don’t have to be their therapist. Just be their friend.
“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
– The Red Queen
For me, there is a lot of work to be done
I know there are groups in the area. I need to go to one.
I became an old version of myself. I’m working hard to get back to where I was.
I am also working to climb out of this pit that is my depression.
”You don’t know much and that’s a fact.”
I am scared
I am genuinely afraid of what will happen when I post this. It has taken me over two weeks to write. On my way to meeting someone for dinner, I decided I wanted to speak out so others who struggle in silence know they are not alone.
- I’m afraid people will avoid me
- I’m afraid of losing people I care about so much
- I’m afraid people won’t understand why I almost always do the Irish goodbye at get together
- I’m afraid of the gossip and possible over exposure.
- And yet, at the same time I’m afraid I will have written all of this and then very few people find it. I want others to know they are not alone.
My energy is there. There are exciting things of which I still want to be a part, I do have commitments I will keep.
“When I used to read fairy-tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one!”
If you got this far, kudos to you and thank you. I kept thinking I needed to trim it down but I felt all of this was necessary.
Quotes are all from Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis. Carroll.
Alice and I have both fallen down the rabbit hole.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I want to keep this writing up so as many people who might need it, see it.
Amazing featured photo by Robert Hold