I have been getting more and more depressed lately. I have battled depression for as long as I remember. I have looked to many people to help. I have looked for many ways to escape. I used to drink a lot. I used to exercise to escape. I have tried natural remedies. I have been medicated. Praying has helped.
I was deep in this last bout this morning. I was looking back at all my battlefields. I was so far in the pit and I was looking at all the people in my life over all the years that have turned away when I was reaching for their hand. If you know me, you may feel like this poem is about you. It may be. There are so many situations that replay in my mind. The characters in them are different in each stage of my life, but I keep allowing the same things to bother me.
I do need to say that I have superb friends and family. My parents are great, but I was not a great daughter. My husband is wonderful, but I am not a wonderful wife. My daughter is terrific, but I am not a terrific mom. My friends are super, but I am not always a super friend.
For those of you that have not ever experienced true, life-long depression, you may not understand the intensity of the emotion. It skews your perspective. We all talk about people that seem to be affected by someone looking at them “the wrong way.” When you are dealing with a true depressed person, everything is “the wrong way.” The words that you mean to show love only show criticism. The loving act you do only seems like you don’t think they can do it for themselves. There is nothing anyone can do for a truly depressed person except pray for them.
Many of you that know me are probably saying, “But she’s always so happy…” and need to remember that I was a Theater major for a reason. It is easy to hide unpleasantness behind a mask for a short period of time.
Anyway, this morning I felt the need to write it out. I remember Mrs. Stokes, one of my high school English teachers commenting on the poetry I turned in one year for the literary magazine. I actually pictured myself standing at her desk in the second classroom on the left, coming from the guidance office. She was asking me why her students only wrote poetry when they were sad. I don’t remember what I told her, but I remember showing her the 5-subject notebook I had filled with my thoughts. There were pages of emotions; most of them really depressed emotions. I was reaching out, and she was more concerned that my poetry would depress someone else. (Yes, she is one of the many people in this poem.) But if I could answer her question today, I would tell her that the reason for some of us is to put the extreme emotions in some kind of order. They are so overwhelming and they don’t make any sense.
Writing is one way to process them. It is a way to bring them into focus. When you are depressed, you get very isolated, you get very drawn in, and you don’t want to share. When you are very happy, you want to be with others, you express yourself, and you want everyone else to share your joy. But when you share your dark places, sometimes you find others that have survived the battle. Sometimes they see it for what it is. Sometimes when you force the chaos you are fighting into words, you start to feel the joy of victory. When you can make sense of the carnage, you can start to clean it up and deal with it properly. I do write when I am happy, but not as much. I do write when my life feels like it is in order, but when it is already orderly, I do not feel the need to make sense of it. It already makes sense.
So here it is… my re-living many depressions... my trying to put it in order… my attempt to slay these dragons from my past that are trying to burn down what I have built up in the present.
I Have Been Depressed
You have been with me all my life.
You are family.
You are friend.
You are here in town.
You are half way around the world.
You are all the people I reach out to for help.
You are everyone I look to for encouragement.
I feel this sadness like an actual physical weight, pressing in on me from every side.
It is the spinning in my head…
the ringing in my ears…
the spots before my eyes…
the lump in my throat…
the rock in my stomach…
the emptiness in my heart.
Oh how I want to escape!
Not in a bottle
Not in a needle
Not in a pill
I want to be held and protected.
I want to be told, “It will be alright.”
I want to feel comforted.
Your words are not comforting; they sting and slap and prick at me.
You are supposed to be my teacher and friend.
You are not loving.
You are mad and cruel.
You are just a phone call away, but you are too busy when I call.
You ‘like’ everything on-line, but you ‘dislike’ everything about me in person.
You ask me, “What’s wrong?” and then tell me you don’t have time to listen.
I try to do things to make you happy, but they are the wrong things.
You tell me how to do it better.
They are not enough.
You tell me to do more.
Instead of showing me love and kindness and intimacy
you show me anger and cruelty and pull further away.
You show tenderness to everyone else, but when I ask for your tenderness
you make sure I know it is a hard thing for you to do.
I ask for advice.
You just do it for me.
I probably wouldn’t do it right anyway.
I ask for companionship.
You tell me to get out of the house more.
I don’t measure up to your companions.
I tell you how I feel.
You tell me I am too emotional.
My feelings aren’t worth validating
I find something that makes me feel worth something again.
You tell me it distracts me from what is important.
My self-worth is not important.
I am not important.
My feelings are worthless.
I am not worthy.
What do I want from you?
I want your prayers.
When was the last time you really prayed for me?
I want your ear.
Do you really hear what I say?
I want your teaching.
Are you teaching me to fish, or just giving me one?
I want your affection.
Do you remember my “language”?
I know this darkness.
It has visited many times.
It will go away no matter how you treat it.
It always does, even though it seems to be hanging on with long, barbed talons.
It cannot hold on forever.
I will fight it and I will not be alone.
I have faith.
My Savior will send an army of angels to help me defeat the darkness.
Yes, He is reaching out to me.
I can see His hand… but I cannot quite reach it.
Why can I not use my lifeline?
Why can I not just have the faith to let this darkness fall away?
Is it my PRIDE?
I think I can do it alone.
Is it my NEED FOR APPROVAL?
Your opinion matters more than you know.
Is it my DOUBT?
I should have more faith.
I will pray.
I will pray for my PRIDE.
I can do nothing without God!
I will pray for my NEEDINESS.
God will take care of all of my needs, if I let Him.
I will pray for my DOUBT.
I will find reassurance in His Word.
I will see the Light
I will lift my hands in praise
I will bow down in worship
And the darkness WILL fall away.
August 8, 2010