The moment I opened my eyes my body ached, stomach swooshed, head pounded. I heard thunder roar. Looking toward the window I saw the flash of evil grey peering through the open crack in the curtains staring back at me.
Fuck me. I have to get out of bed today. The worst days are the most critical to follow through. If I don’t I already know defeat isn’t too far off in the distance. At any given moment the chains of depression will tighten around me and the weight will become so unbearable I’ll cease to function.
I began to stir as I drilled the bullshit motivational pep talk through my head. It’s going to be a kick ass day! Game on!
It was then something miraculous happened. My husband reached out his arm, scooped me up and pulled me in. I immediately transformed to mush. The shape of his body, the safety of his warmth. I became lost in the security of his love for me.
Although it only lasted for the time we lay there spooning the feeling of depression subsided and instead I experienced relief.
For those of us who live with depression- the manic, Bipolar, clinical and dysthymic depression, in all its forms most likely know the unbearable pain I speak of. The soul crushing, life hindering, physical and emotional, weighted darkness and the days of surviving one hour to the next.
We feel hopeless.
There’s this all consuming feeling of hopelessness and it’s nothing more than irrational, because here’s the thing. The symptoms of depression that are never spoken about are the immense actuality of hope and sense of gratitude.
There is hope I’ll get through the hour. There’s hope tomorrow will be better. There’s hope I’ll see the signs before depression swallows me whole again. There’s hope this is the worst it will ever get. There’s hope the tears will come and the pain will ease.
There’s hope the weighted darkness will lift. There’s hope I will win the battle each time the fight is brought before me. There’s hope that my voice speaks for those who can’t find the words to speak for themselves.
There is so much hope in depression.
I think those of us who experience depression in some way have the upper hand in life. We live in a society driven by productivity and success, working jobs we hate, exhausting ourselves for the sake of others, living a rat race, never having a moment to completely decompress, never having a moment to give to ourselves.
With depression it’s entirely different. I have this awareness that every moment is the only moment. I’m present. It heightens my sense of gratitude.
I habitually give to myself. I fuel my body with healthy food. I spike my endorphins with physical activity. I rest when my body tells me it’s time. I stand outside, inhale nature and absorb the beauty surrounding me.
I stretch my hands up toward the sky then bend down and touch the earth. For this, I am grateful.
The only moment is right now. I can’t help but to believe this means that although I experience the sorrowful depths of depression in reality I’m healthier than the majority of the population.
Not a day goes by that I don’t tell myself I’m grateful for the laughter and memories, my creative accomplishments, the safe space that is my home, the bond I share with my family and friends, the mornings my husband scoops me close to him. All of the truly amazing things that exist in my life.
It doesn’t matter how miserable I may feel or the burden I carry. All of those tiny moments in between fill my heart with massive amounts of gratitude.
Gratitude feels hopeful. Gratitude creates healing. Gratitude provides strength.
We often focus on the bad, the stigma that comes with mental illness. The media projects violent acts, crime outrage and stories of horror as a generalization that mental illness is the cause.
We don’t talk about the every day average people. I’m an every day average person. I’m not a generalization. I focus my energy on the positive I can contribute regardless of the personal struggles I may face.
Let’s be clear, depression is unfathomable but within all the ugly, sad, negative, painful and impossible to bear symptoms that occur, as a society we never speak of the good.
As an individual, I will. There’s an immense actuality of hope and a sense of gratitude in depression.
These are symptoms we never talk about.
I wish we would.
I’m a writer, artist and agoraphobic manic depressive. You can find me hiding behind my monitor at All Things Creative right here on Medium.
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