I realize I’ve been largely absent around here for a great long time, but I do pop in and lurk occasionally and couldn’t help but notice that several of the ladies at MMW had been having some hard times earlier this summer. I couldn’t help but have the “AMEN, SISTAH!” light go off while reading some of the posts from the last months and wanted to state my solidarity in struggling. I know our struggles are all different but there is a common tone to a woman struggling and it resonated with me in several posts.
Here it is July. I sit on my bed having gnawed away more of a chocolate Easter bunny from my closet. The rabbit and some of his basket-mates have been carefully stashed, rationed, and doled out as emotionally necessary since April. I’ve fallen behind in the routines of my life, I’ve distanced from friends and family. I haven’t posted on this or my family blog since before the daffodils bloomed and my facebook page would be covered with cobwebs if such a thing was possible. I just haven’t been feeling it. Or much of anything else, really. Depression strikes again.
It’s such an insidious companion. Like a thick tarry mud clinging to all of your extremities. It will bring you to your knees and make your heart rend.
Numbness and apathy are the main components of my depression, with flecks of raging temper and acute sadness thrown in. It’s an intricate blend of miseries that range from unfortunate and inconvenient to paralyzing. At times it builds to a point where the whole thing topples and I collapse, feeling as if my soul is vomiting.
Every now and again I manage to convince myself that I have shed the lead-like cloak that I’ve been lugging around for 15+ years and will not again be in its grips. Then something hits - childbirth, illness, a move, a death, tragedy, a long dark winter or even “smaller” stuff and BAM. I am again immobilized and fighting for breath in the battle.
So, in emerging from another deep patch of “stuck”, I declare - perhaps into the vacuum of space and mostly to myself - that depression is real. It’s real and it sucks. It’s real, it sucks, and you can’t always fix it yourself. Eating your weight in chocolate is not going to make it go away (though it sure seems to take the edge off in the moment). Beating yourself up is not going to help. Most of the time you can’t pray/fast/run it away.
I realize that this topic gets played out quite a bit with Mormon women, but I think it bears repeating that being held to high standards of womanhood can be difficult. It can wear you down and lend itself to feelings of inadequacy and failure. So I guarantee when you’re at the playground, the grocery store, the school, and yes at church that you are not the only one feeling the weight of depression on your shoulders.
So (and again I say this even more to me than to you) let us renew our attempts at being gentle to ourselves. Recognizing and accepting our foes for what they are can be useful and empowering. Sharing the realities of our struggles can be validating to others and can be fertile ground for our own growth.
I’ve had several occasions lately to talk to other women about some of the issues surrounding depression and I know that isolation can be dangerous. If you are struggling please do what feels impossible and reach out (that can mean to a friend, a leader, or preferably - a trained professional). Do it for your kids and those around you but above all, please do it for you.
As a post note, since writing this in July and then tucking it away and not posting it, I’ve known of three suicides within one degree of separation of my family. If someone you know is struggling, please err on the side of caution and seek professional help.