falling into darkness: what depression feels like

I was miles away from home, my email, all the lists of To Do’s for the upcoming school year.  I was sitting on a beach under a lovely shade tree. There was just the right amount of breeze to keep us from sweating, but not to keep us out of the lake.  Both boys were happily splashing and digging holes with their daddy.

I was on a towel with my Diet Coke and a book I was ignoring.

And I could feel my head slipping. My world was starting to do that thing when you throw water on a painted canvas. The picture that was once realistic and lovely starts to look like it’s melting and distorting.

Everything started running together.

It came out of nowhere.

I mean, I knew I had been stressed out with thinking about school starting, taking on an adjunct position at the local community college last minute, and all the loose ends I had to tie up with social media campaigns and freelancing before I headed back to work full time. I knew that going on this vacation a week before all the madness started up was cutting it a little close.

But I also knew I was very much looking forward to it.

Cortney and I had been saying to each other repeatedly for a couple weeks, “Soon we will be on a break with no internet or lists. Soon it will be just family and fun.”

We arrived two days before. I didn’t feel the usual release of stress that happens after getting the car unloaded, grabbing a beer, and plopping down in a bag chair.  But I chalked that up to having one more mobile kid this year, having a LOT on my mind, and needing a night to just chill out.

I’m not sure what happened between arriving and sitting on that towel on the beach.

I wish I could pinpoint these things because then maybe I wouldn’t find myself in a delightful situation getting slammed in the face with the load of bricks that is depression.

My reality went wonky.

I didn’t want to do any of the fun things people suggested, but I did want to cry.

I didn’t want to be around anyone, but we were on vacation with my parents and both brothers and their families.

I started finding fault with everyone and everything they said and did.  The more I tried to just hurry up and get over it and “be happy,” the worse it got.

I tried to be positive and it made me more negative.

I tried to see that they were just jokes and humor people were using, but I ended up taking offense even quicker.

I tried to tell myself all the questions were because my family was interested in me and wanted to make conversation, but I couldn’t help feel like I was being judged and eye-rolled.

I tried to “get over it” or “not worry about it” as was suggested when I would mention my stresses, but instead I felt unheard and more anxious.

Within 48 hours of being home (which included some good sleep), I was pretty much passed it.

My falls into the depression pits aren’t as far of a fall or as frequent as they used to be before I started managing them with therapy, diet, exercise, and meds, but they are still disconcerting and exhausting when they do happen.

No matter how long I live with depression, I never see it coming. Sometimes I will have all the triggers, but the depression never shows up.  Sometimes I will have one tiny trigger and BOOM! Like a sack of bricks to the face.

But every time it starts to push me, it feels the same way and it starts with the feeling of falling and of my whole world melting and distorting.

I have copy of the Salvador Dali painting The Persistence of Memory in my classroom. Since I frequently lack words to describe what my brain does when depression hits, I think of this painting. It’s like my life slows down–but not in a good way. In the way that things start to bleed together out of slow motion in dreams. Images melt and droop. I become an almost unrecognizable lump of a grey creature in the middle of it all.  I can see myself from the outside, but I can’t help myself.

If I don’t allow myself to vanish…if I keep awake and don’t melt away…I come out of it.

At least I have every time so far.

And on the other side is always this:

2013-08-30 08.02.39And I promise myself that I will always fight to stay.


Do you have a story?  Natalie from Mommy of a Monster and I are sharing our stories. She is talking about crawling out of the pit of depression while I told what it’s like to fall into it. If you want to share with us, please join the link up below and let’s all support each other.


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Ditching the Get Away Plans

All last week I felt a bit frantic about our looming cottage “vacation”.

I had trouble sleeping.  The To Do List was sooo long.

I kept going over and over in my head: Saturday to Sunday evening I have Cort with me.  Monday to Wednesday I am parenting solo.

{It’s a good thing I had a therapy appointment last week too.}

I was so anxious and stressed.   Even though I knew my brothers, sisters-in-law, and parents would help.  Even though I knew I was not really alone.

I kept making up “Get Away” plans in my head.

If it sucked, we could go home Sunday too.

If the boys did horribly Sunday night at bedtime, we could hit the road Monday.

If Monday was a disaster, we could leave that night.

And so on.

After big days on Saturday and Sunday, it was time for Cort to head back home.  He had to work.

Before he left, though, we did decide it would probably be better for the boys if we came home Tuesday night.  But of course, no one was holding me and if I felt really anxious, we could always pack up and leave.

There was always an out.

I feel foolish for ever feeling this way.  I always feel foolish about my anxious episodes.  Rarely do the worst case scenarios I play out in my head over and over and over come to fruition.

Sunday’s bedtime was fairly uneventful.  Eddie had a bit of a time wanting to go to bed, but when he realized I was right outside his room reading on the couch, he passed right out.

Monday was every kind of sweaty hotness.

We took advantage of a cooler morning and shade at the tiny public access beach.  Charlie napped through the whole thing and Eddie swam and built castles while I was actually able to chat with my sibs and read my book.  Once the afternoon heat started to creep in, we made lunch and pointed all the fans in the world at us in our un-AC-ed cottage.

Somehow Eddie took an epic nap.  I swear that kid was made for camping and the outdoors (so NOT like me).

Charlie was a bit of a fussy face since he handles heat about as well as I do.

After nap Eddie took full advantage of running around with his cousin and letting his aunts and uncles and grandparents keep an eye on him while I was consumed with his very unhappy baby brother.

But it was Ok.

Charlie eventually went to sleep with a fan on him, and Eddie came in and was cool with going to bed.

Enough so that after we read books, I asked him if it was Ok if I went next door to play cards with his aunts and uncles and he said yes!  He would stay and sleep until I got back.  Oh, and keep my side of the bed warm.

Yeah, it didn’t need your help, Ed.

The next day, my mom made a point to compliment me on how well my solo day and evening went.

I did what I always do with compliments.  I got uncomfortable and tried to brush it off.

But she said, “no.  Don’t disregard it.  You did great!”

And you know what?  I did.

I kept my patience even when I was so hot and tired.

Yes, Eddie was good, but I was also “good”.  I gave him choices and trusted him.

I let others walk Charlie around when he was grumpy, but I took him to feed him each time.

It was…smooth.

Tuesday I made sure to leave Charlie with Grandma for awhile so Eddie and I could finally get some one-on-one time swimming and playing.  I know he loved it as much as I did.

And when we all got home Tuesday night?  We hugged daddy, bathed our stinky bodies, and fell asleep like logs.

But not before I high-fived myself for doing something I would have NEVER considered possible just a few short years ago.

I did not let my depression and anxiety win.

I took that vacation, and I made memories with my boys.