Wednesday, November 7, 2012

depression lies

So I've been pretty writing blocked lately. Actually, that's a lie. One of several I tell myself. I have not been blocked. What I've been is flooded with words that I don't want to write, because while they 'feel' like the truth, that wee remaining rational part of me knows they are complete bs.

All the while I've been saying I'm blocked, I've also been saying "I'm not depressed, I'm just anxious." I got to say that because I believed it right up until the moment I finally went to the doctor. I suppose any number of people could and maybe did call bs on that particular lie, but I believed it, and that's what mattered.

After all, I've been fighting depression for my entire adult life, so surely I would know when I'm depressed. And, I really was anxious - I had my first panic attacks (they suck) - the first one while I was public speaking. Me - the ham. The attention whore. The woman who has never met a microphone she didn't like. Sweating and heart pounding and short of breath. Unthinkable. People even asked if I was okay. Offered me water, and a chair. I was horrified. And they happened twice more on separate commutes home - sweaty palms. Short breath. Pounding heart. That suffocating pressure on my chest.

I had muscle spasms from tension. I had a lifetime's worth of migraines in one month. I felt that my tendons could be played like a harp sonata. I couldn't sleep. And when I could sleep, it was a fitful, active, nightmarish sleep I wanted to avoid.

This was not the dragging through mud melancholia that I know depression to be. This was active and on the attack. The doctor laughed gently at me when I told him that particular lie - I'm not depressed; I'm anxious. He was quite certain that an intelligent and experienced woman like myself knew they are one and the same. And then he said 'no matter, the treatment is the same either way.' And so I agreed to medication, as long as we agreed to the lie that it was for anxiety and not depression. He assigned me some homework, handed me the prescription and sent me on my way.

A month later, the anxiety is gone - okay, it's abated. My fits when driving are now just my regular everyday road ragey reaction to the apparent stupidity of the average driver, not a signal to pull off and just breathe. I sleep. Actual restful sleep. Sometimes too much of it - like 13 hours two nights in a row. Who sleeps like that? I can turn my neck more than 3 degrees. I can breathe. 

Now that I no longer have anxiety to hide behind, lo and behold it would seem I am depressed. And so I have to keep reminding myself, in my very best Bloggess impression, "DEPRESSION LIES"* - It lies through whispers and shouts and unintelligible moans. It lies in murky purple puddles and in the shadows out of the corners of my eyes. It lies in wait.

But just because depression lies doesn't mean I have to. Just because depression tells me to just lie down and give up, that dreams are for suckers, doesn't mean I have to give up or stop dreaming. Just because depression tells me I'm way too f*cked up to be loved doesn't mean that I have to believe it over the people who tell me every day that they love me. Just because depression says I'll never be healthy again doesn't mean I have to stable my bike, invest in gallons of ice cream, and buy back my fat clothes. 

Depression lies. I don't have to. I may continue to be quieter for a little while as I sort beyond what I think and dig down to what's really so. I may take a day here and there to just cuddle up with a soft blanket and a trashy book and believe in time travel and sexy Scottish protectors. I may keep my eyes closed and my ears a little more open for a bit. That's probably not such a bad thing anyway, right? 

Oh, and for the record, here's one more lie we might as well do away with - the best writers are mentally ill. I don't need depression to be a writer. I don't need addiction or schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder any other mental health issue either. I could be perfectly well and healthy and be prolific and engaging and successful. 

By the way, in addition to exercise and self care, my doctor also prescribed happy music. No more sad songs, no matter how much they say (thanks, Elton John). So, here's my challenge to you - send me in the comments or via Facebook or Twitter your favourite Happy Songs and I'll make a YouTube playlist and post it here. Even better - why don't you make a playlist for me and add a link in the comments. :) 

*Jenny Lawson, AKA The Bloggess & Wil Wheaton AKA the cool guy who has overcome having been Wesley Crusher on Star Trek the Next Generartion - both write eloquently about how DEPRESSION LIES, which is why it is Jenny's touchstone, and that's how it became mine as well. You can read Jenny's take on it here, and Wil's take on it here.


  1. Hold on When You Get Love So You Can Let Go When You Get It. Stars.

  2. What an amazing post Shan, so much courage to put that out there. You are awesome...I just put a few songs together for you. XOXO

  3. I love this post. I loved it so much I've read it three times in a row. Perhaps because it hit so close to home, my home. I'm so glad I found your blog! You're right about the lying. I call depression my "monster". Sometimes, it's quiet and I even forget it's there, waiting, ready to drag me back down the black hole. Or, I convince myself it's not there. But I know better, I know it's still there. It's like my second shadow. i HATE taking meds, but without them, I would be a basket case. I'm glad you found the right type of medication to help you. Surround yourself with family and friends and strong support systems. Be kind to hyourself, for me, that's the hardest part. And take it one day at a time. Chin up!

    As for music, I don't have particular songs, but if I want to snap out of my funk, I listen to dance music and start dancing and/or singing out loud.

    Be well!

    1. Thank you, Yvonne. I'm glad you found my blog, and that you've found something here that speaks to you. I've taken meds before, but this is the first time I really feel like they are working. Thanks for the encouragement!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...