the sadness beneath: living with clinical depression I

I have always had the sadness beneath: the way I describe my clinical, rather than situational, depression. It’s not that you don’t want to be happy, but something always pulls you down, so you can’t be happy. Sometimes it’s the never-ending loop of sadness that plays inside your head; sometimes it’s the Blu-ray dvd of past injustices or “mistakes/errors” that can’t be paused; sometimes it is situational: something happens in the world around you that makes you cry.

For me, it’s been the crying: the uncontrollable, inconsolable, body-wracking, never-ending sobbing, that has marked my face, my soul, my life.  “Depression hurts” goes a current tv ad campaign; so does my crying. Physically, it makes my stomach muscles ache and gives me a migraine-like headache. Emotionally: the pain cuts deep; deep as a knife; deep as the chasm between light and dark, between happiness and sorrow.

“Always on the outside, looking in on other’s lives” (Indigo Girls)

door by V.v.G.

Every day is a fight against the tears; an effort to rise above the sadness; to try one more time, one more hour, one more day, one more medication, one more self-help exercise, one more counselling session.

And, all the while, you can see the door: outside the sun shines; birds sing; wildflowers waive in gentle breezes; smells of grass, of earth, of life. But the hallway is so long; the shadows so deep; the doorway so narrow.

“Always on the outside, looking in on other’s lives” (Indigo Girls)

and always beneath: the sadness

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27 thoughts on “the sadness beneath: living with clinical depression I

  1. Maryn Christophel September 23, 2010 / 7:05 pm

    This is a little too close for comfort. I am simply sad for you and your tears. I wish I could kiss the boo boo like my sweet mother used to do and magically make the pain go away, but alas this is only a mother’s lie. I wish you the best darlin.
    Maryn

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    • phylor September 25, 2010 / 10:14 pm

      Thanks for your kind thoughts. I appreciate you reading my post, and sharing your thoughts.

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  2. phylor September 22, 2010 / 9:55 am

    Actually commiting my thoughts to paper (virtual paper, that is) was helpful. Pushing the publish button, I held my breath. I’m of an age where, when I was younger, depression had a social stigma. Now, I think because of changes to society and the openness of the internet, folks are more willing to share their darkness secrets. Shining light on depression helps to get rid of the shadows where it can hide by blending into the corner.
    Thx for understanding how being on the outside feels.

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  3. Wendy Burnett September 21, 2010 / 11:39 pm

    phylor – amazing, wonderfully written and so perfectly descriptive of how depression can suck all the color, all the light, and all the energy out of life. Depression does put you on the outside looking in, where it seems that everyone but you is happy.

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  4. Kathy September 21, 2010 / 10:10 am

    I appreciate your honesty. A real-life friend of mine struggles with depression and even a med change can alter how it is/she’s doing.

    “Always on the outside, looking in on other’s lives” (Indigo Girls) This resonates with me….and makes me wonder if the Indigo Girls read my poem I wrote in ’91 and reproduced on my blog here: http://www.bignoise-enterprises.com/blog/2009/09/01/the-circle/

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    • phylor September 21, 2010 / 10:27 am

      Your poem is so evocative of the feeling of loneliness and “outsiderness.” I tried to leave a comment, but couldn’t find the comment tab/button. I’ve come across many poets in my travels through chronic pain/chronic illness blogs/websites. I think we need a poet’s corner blog/face book group, or at the least a blog carnival, where folks could post and share poetry. Just a thought that occurred to me again reading your poem.

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  5. Ellen August 22, 2010 / 12:57 pm

    I have tried for days to try to come up with somethng to say, some comfort to offer in response to this post. It is indeed beautifully – artfully, magically – written; giving me a glimpse into the your pain, in the way that nothing else I have ever read has done. I am so sorry that you suffer. I am so sorry that I have no comfort to offer except my fervent wishes that someday soon there will be a way out of depression for you and for the many who suffer like you.

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    • phylor August 24, 2010 / 2:31 pm

      Thanx, Ellen, for your understanding. Depression is a black hole that can suck into all sparks, twinkles, star light, star bright. When its chronic (clinical) rather than situational/environmental, there is always the shadow behind and in front of you. Meds can be a ladder; a life rope out of the eddy, but since they often at best stop me from crying, it hasn’t been the answer. Therapy has been, for the most part, a joke: I could write a whole blog just on what I’ve been told my mental health professionals which isn’t that far off what medical health professionals tell folks with chronic pain: it’s all in your head. Of course it is, that’s where my mind is! :) I try to keep perspective: some days I’m better at it than others.

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  6. kathleenhogg August 21, 2010 / 2:28 pm

    It makes me sad to read of your sadness. I know exactly how you feel, when it is such a weight that presses down the anxiety, that makes you want to sleep, but you don’t want to sleep anymore, but you are too tired to be awake and then you don’t want to be awake because you are so tired and so on and so on and so on.
    I don’t want to be trite and say, it will get better, even though a break will come at some point. I do want to say that your support and friendship in Cyberspace has made me feel better and assisted me in getting a more positive spin. Although, I know, the darkness comes, you are responsible for making myself and the other folks who commented feel better. We are all here behind you, giving you hugs!!!

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    • phylor August 24, 2010 / 2:35 pm

      Thanx, Kathleen, for your hugs! Having folks out there in the cyberverse has made such a big difference in my life, too. Knowing you are not alone is a comfort in and of itself. Your description of the pattern of depression and anxiety is very apt: it is a downward spiral. And, when you add pain to the mix, it’s like the intertwined tendrils of some invasive, non-native species of vine, both living off, and smothering/sucking the life out of the host. Pain = depression = pain: not a good formula for finding contentment and happiness! I try and shake off what I can, embrace the smiles and laughter when they come, and feel hono(u)red to have met such wonderful people, as yourself, in the cyberverse.

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  7. Beaknfeather August 20, 2010 / 10:15 am

    Incredibly powerful post. I’m so sorry that you must deal with this crushing sorrow every day. You are a remarkable woman, whether you can give yourself credit or not. To be able to give voice to such deep feelings and emotions is truly a gift. I hope that you realize how you effect those of us who read your blog; who have gotten to know you. Your life is a precious gem my friend, and I’m proud to be able to look upon it!
    As for “depression hurts”, that’s from a Cymbalta commercial and I call that a devil drug. I was put on it for G(eneralized) A(nxiety) D(isorder) as well as for nerve pain for the fibro; side effects and severe withdrawl symptoms kept me on it and suffering for a few years. Finally, I was switched to Lexapro, which reduced the withdrawl and helped me to come off Cymbalta for good. I feel better, but admittedly am in a lot more pain. The devil drug did reduce my pain, but who can tell when in the midst of ongoing side effects? Be careful. I know that you research things more than I and that’s a good thing. Forewarned is forearmed.
    Thank you for letting us glimpse into your heart. Your talents are awe inspiring, truly!
    -Nancy

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    • phylor August 24, 2010 / 2:41 pm

      I’m so glad you are free of the devil drug! I found that it didn’t do much for my depression or pain so I wasn’t on it for all that long. Lucky for me, other than mind zaps when I was switching, I didn’t fall too far into its clutches. I’m sure you’ve been asked this already, probably by me too, but have you tried Lyrica? It comes with it’s own set of side effects, but again, I was lucky: the side effects are mostly weight gain (I take it later in the day in case my fatigue is somewhat caused by it), and have been at the same dose for over a year. I’ve developed a new pain (great :)) which may or may not lead to an increase in Lyrica. But I can live without cheesecake longer than I can live without pain meds, so if I have to increase, I’ll have to cut back in calories consumed. Been working my way into an elimination diet to see if I can find what has made my IBS much worse of late, and I may find other pain levels reduced as a result.
      Thanx for your powerful and encouraging words. I am the better person for having gotten to know you!

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  8. spicyt August 20, 2010 / 1:14 am

    Wow. That is amazing. I’m so sorry you are in the midst of the depression devil. I believe I am as well. It’s a dark, sad place to be. It’s an odd feeling to be so low…inside bawling like a baby, then you look out your window and the world is going on without you…walking their dogs, jogging, shopping….and it makes you sadder…because you can’t even fathom it at that point….you drag yourself back to the bed and continue on with the wracking sobs, with used tissues filling your bed like a pink mound of sticky clouds…Meds don’t help…they may numb…but they don’t help. We gotta do it ourselves. Pull out of the clutches of the depression demon. I’m prayin for ya girlfriend. Hang in there. OUr day is coming…xoxoxox.
    http://spicyt.wordpress.com

    Tammy

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    • phylor August 24, 2010 / 2:43 pm

      Yes, batting the depression demon is hard. When combined with the noxious weed of pain, the evil twins can make life seem bleak: a black hole that sucks all the spark and twinkle out of the world, and where would we be without the stars above, shining hope and possibilities through the night sky. I wish you luck with your depression demon. You are one strong woman: I can see you wrestling it to the ground, kicking it’s butt out the door, and letting the sun shine in. I’m sending you good, powerful, and encouring thoughts. (((hugs)))

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  9. hibernationnow August 19, 2010 / 5:03 pm

    It’s hard to like a post when it is so upsetting but I do. I never knew the extremes that you are going through; and all the time. I’m so sorry. It’s beautifully written but so sad to hear what you go through every single day. I’m hoping perhaps a new psychopharmacologist might help with the clinical depression. I hope you have had a few consultations. let me know if there is anything I can do. p.s. I love the Indigo Girls too. Laurie

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    • phylor August 24, 2010 / 3:04 pm

      Thanx, Laurie. I did see a “dispensing/medicating psychiatrist” but we didn’t communicate well. She didn’t understand how my body just doesn’t absorb extended release meds (I get the effect of the immediate (stomach), but not the longer acting (intestine) part of the meds. Since I wasn’t always a wreck in her office, she questioned how deep my depression was. I tried her on the advice of a counsellor, but I got just as good med. advice from my pcp. Overall, my luck with the mental health profession has been about the same as with the medical profession: not all that good; one gem for every 100 dudes! There might be gold in them there hills, but there’s alot of fool’s gold (iron pyrite) to pan through first.
      I know you are there when I need you. It’s nice to have friends like you in the cyberverse!

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