Guess which one is the face of my depression? Hint: it’s red and filled with flames. Credit: Inside Out (a really cute movie you should see if you haven’t)
One thing I know about myself—even though I don’t like it—is that for me, depression often manifests as irritability and anger. I can make myself get up out bed, go to work and function, but dammit, no one says I have to be nice about it.
Let’s be honest, I don’t have the luxury of doing anything with my depression other than picking it up, like a very heavy suitcase, and lugging it around every day. Time and love and therapy and medication haven’t made a dent in the depression I feel after losing my son. Sleeping and drinking all day aren’t an option for all sorts of valid reasons, so the depression becomes my very own set of cement shoes, weighing me down and making everything so much harder—a black fog that colors everything I see a dingy grey.
It’s a sneaky, mean thing, depression. I don’t know how I appear to casual observers. They probably see me laughing with my kids, or smiling as I walk the dog, or cracking jokes in meetings. They probably think I’m doing pretty well. If I snap or say something bitchy—well, let’s be honest, that’ s not entirely out of character for me in general. They don’t know that all day long, I just want to scream. Often, at anyone I have to interact with. Not because they’ve done something, but just because I am So. Damn. Tired.
The effort of not losing my shit, of maintaining a semblance of courtesy and professionalism with people who deserve nothing less, is absolutely exhausting.
It’s not just colleagues or strangers, either. I love my children beyond reason, and I’m trying hard to take whatever lessons I can from Charlie’s loss and remember to let go of the small stuff. But sometimes, when my daughter gets snarky when I ask her to do a chore, or my teenager acts as if I’m an idiot, it’s hard not to lose my temper. Depression’s external face, anger, is never far away and keeping that under control takes a lot of damn energy. My kids are hurting too, and they need a calm, loving and supportive parent. I try to be that, and to be apologetic and honest with them when I fail. But I am So. Damn. Tired.
Any joy, happiness or satisfaction is transitory. It’s all colored grey by the black fog of sadness that surrounds me like a second skin. Those cement shoes weigh me down, so happiness can only rise up so far. But the anger is always there and doesn’t care about cement shoes; it bubbles up like lava.
People say things like, “Oh, Charlie wouldn’t want you to be sad.” Or, “You need to think about your other kids.” Well, duh. Just because something is true, doesn’t mean it’s going to change how I feel.
I hope that one day, those cement shoes crumble away and the black fog drifts away like smoke in the wind. Until then, I will add managing my anger to the never-ending list of things I do every day, because I must, because there is no other alternative. But I am So. Damn. Tired.