So, you want to know what it’s like to be plagued with unrelenting depression and anxiety. Dear god, why?
First, some background.
I’ve talked a lot about how much I hate being pregnant. And I do. It’s basically a garbage time that ends in a wonderful rainbow of wondrous preciousness. But when I talked before about the physical grossness and hormonal nonsense, that wasn’t the whole story. Other stuff went on that made that nine months, and, if I’m being honest with myself, several months before that, so rough.
Last year, something happened. And like the last time something happened, it didn’t happen to me, but it did happen to me. This has been an impossible thing to reconcile in my life, that everything that has ever happened to me happened not to me, but to someone else. My story is not my own, and never has been, but it is. I don’t know how else to describe it, because it’s never been mine to describe. I am a peripheral character in every major event of my own life, at most the sidelined spouse, watching the person I love most suffer and try and do and me never being able to *do* at all, let alone rescue.
When people describe events like this in their lives, they sometimes describe it as the bottom dropping out. And that’s what it is. The immediate fall is sudden and terrifying. But what I only now know is that I’m still falling, that I’ve been falling for a year. And that fall is slow, so slow that I didn’t know I was falling at all. Because I could mostly keep it together, and be happy and feel normal, feel like myself. Then, every now and then, gravity would shift and I’d plummet again. This manifested in huge life decisions. I quit my job, I dropped out of my master’s program, I changed careers, albeit a career change I had always wanted to make, but not at six months pregnant.
I don’t want to make this a “when you are a parent” thing, as though parents have some arbitrarily assigned wisdom, but when you are responsible for the care and love of other humans, you do your best. Some of us are lucky enough to be able to do so without so much as a hiccup. I am lucky in that I was never so low as to be unable to care for my daughter, to now be able to care for both my children. And my marriage was deeply strengthened by everything that happened, and what was good even in the worst moments was made only happier. And I was able to work, to get shit done as I needed to. And it all felt automatic, happening without a lot of exertion. But the cracks formed in other areas, all inside.
As a side effect of my life as a passenger to other people’s experiences, I now feel the traumas of others too strongly. News stories about injustice and pain and tragedy, I find myself completely destroyed, which one would think would be a good thing, the makings of a true social justice warrior, but I am instead rendered paralyzed, useless, a vessel of only feelings and no ability to act.
And it’s desperately affected my ability to write. I can’t defend my position on things anymore. When even slightly challenged or questioned, the amount of whelm in my body shifts into “over” position and I become this boiling kettle of thoughts and nerves and my brain shuts down.
So I withdraw. I want to be left alone, ignored, to be forgotten entirely. While I also desperately want and grasp for something I cannot understand—professional success? Friendship? Something that’s mine? I don’t know what it is. I know I am restless and in need of something. I don’t know what it is. And I don’t know how to find it.
So, I look to Hollywood.
The Stages of Crippling Depression and Anxiety as Explained by the Movies
The Tired Stage
Sometimes you’re physically tired, sometimes you’re emotionally over it, sometimes you’re barely there, but any way you cut it, everything below (or above) the waist is kaput.
The Dali-esque Surreal Stage
I don’t know what’s real, what’s not, if I checked out for a solid 30 minutes and missed anything or what and there might be aliens, I’m not sure, but this stage just feels off. Like you’re just slightly dreaming through your day.
The I FEEL ALL THE THINGS Stage
Kevin Bacon gets it. This stage has so many emotions brewing within you and no way out. No way out except…THROUGH DANCE. And aerial cartwheels.
The I Felt Too Much and Now My Feels Are Broken Stage
Basically you’re just eternally falling down a damn hill, but you kind of don’t care because you can’t care.
The Unrelenting Sadness Stage
Watching the ending of Requiem for a Dream. Not living it. Just watching it. No, it doesn’t really help to know things could be worse.
The Lost and Restless and Mad about It Stage
I don’t know why I goddamn feel this way or how to fix it or if fixing it is even possible. Someone punch somebody.
The Paralyzed Stage
It’s this picture of a rock. Just stare at it for a while and pretend it’s a really slow movie.
The I-Have-To-Physically-Move-My-Body-Through-This-Storm-Inside-Because-I-Have-Shit-To-Do Stage
BRB let me just lift this giant mountain of pain and terribleness and carry it over here for a minute so I can get through the day.
The Tiny Bit of Hope Stage
The end of Snowpiercer on repeat for a few days. Maybe everything works out just fine. Maybe it doesn’t. Choose your own adventure, I suppose. Either way, polar bears!
Ultimately, I’m going to be OK. I’ll probably not be OK again and then OK again and I won’t ever quite know how or why. But, either way,
polar bears! it helps that you guys have my back, always, every time.