Depression is much more than the feeling of sadness. Feeling nothing is like insulation against the cold, stabbing pain of guilt, anxiety, self-loathing, hopelessness and isolation. Sadness is a painful feeling, but combining it with all the other feelings is overwhelming.
I say these things too often. “My head hurts,” is the most common saying for me, followed closely by “Can you close the blinds.” Other well-used sayings are “What’s that smell?” and “Can’t someone else drive you?” A series of flash cards with these sayings would come in handy on the days it hurts to speak. I could just plaster them to the bedroom door and stay hidden in my silent, dark, and smell-free migraine cocoon.
I found Spoon Theory at a time in my life when I refused to listen to my body. When I was sick, exhausted, and in intense pain, I’d take a pill and carry on. Sounds brave, doesn’t it? Ignorant is a better word to describe my behavior during that time. Pushing myself and ignoring my body only increased the number and severity of my symptoms. Eventually, the pills stopped working, and I was left bedridden. Budgeting my time and energy and learning to listen to my body allows me to be more productive than ever before. I’m proud to be a Spoonie!
There are undoubtedly many stages and layers of healing but I find most interesting about these six stages is the last one, Maintenance. It involves returning to the earlier stages to continue healings. As I look at these six stages, I see myself in each one, and part of me wonders why I’m not entirely healed. I realize now that I’ve returned to the earlier stages, several times, and my healing is ongoing. It is deeper now than ever before.
In front of others, he’d let the kids do whatever they wanted. They could climb the walls, and he would just sit there with a smile on his face. Once we were alone, he’d rage at them, screaming about how they embarrassed him and made threats to thwart future bad behavior. Some people were wise enough to sense something wasn’t quite right, but they couldn’t know how terrible it actually was when we were alone. I once thought he was unable to control himself, but this behavior made it clear. He knew what he was doing all along. He controlled it when it suited him and hid it to preserve his public image which was always more important than his children. Even now, he presents himself as “an excellent father” of three, but we know it’s only for show.
I know for a fact that if I had a traditional “physical disease” people in my life would be more understanding. For some reason crippling depression, complex PTSD, and migraines that not only offer blinding pain but impaired cognitive function are “all in my head” and I should be able to “get over it.” My family would not be embarrassed or disappointed in me because of my illnesses. My boss and co-workers may not have accused me of “faking it to get out of work,” and maybe I’d still have my job. But I don’t have a traditional “physical disease,” so I must work harder to heal and overcome the stigma others, with no concept of my ailments, place upon me.
I remember struggling to think of something I enjoyed doing or even something I’d like to do. I didn’t do anything for fun, and I felt embarrassed. So much of my life was filled with the task of making others happy that I lost myself. Fun is still something a bit foreign to me, but I’m learning to enjoy parts of my life again. I’ll get back there, in time…