[Trigger Alert! Contains description of feelings of depression and anxiety.]
I’ve become well acquainted with the shadowy visage of depression over the years. It has introduced itself to members of both sides of my family tree, and repeatedly reintroduced itself to me as an unwelcome companion over the years. It would be wonderful to find a button to push, like the ones on social media sites, that would permanently unfriend this particular stalker. Thus far, I have not located such an easy solution. So depression teases and toys with me – hiding for a time, then returning, sometimes bringing other unwelcome friends as party-crashers to my psyche.
I once quietly wished for others to tell me if they noticed that despondent specter when it visits me, perching on my shoulder, whispering in tones of blue and gray to the thoughts building like gathering storm clouds in my mind. Then maybe I could shoo it away before the mind clouds become an overshadowing thunderstorm. But the sly little demon often lingers in the background, out of public view, camouflaged by my predisposition toward a “melancholy temperament”. Without the counterpoint of a naturally sunny disposition, who else could possibly know when it came and went?
Sometimes I wanted to leave clues for those around me, like a trail of breadcrumbs along a shaded woodland path, hoping someone would notice where they led. They ended at the tiny moss-covered hermit shack that was a temporary refuge on dark and dreary days. Yet I was afraid to allow anyone near enough to help me exorcise the dreaded pall. Through the foggy haze of inward darkness, how could I know whether the knock on the door was a wicked witch, a vicious troll or hairy forest beast, rather than the Good Samaritan hero. To even crack the door to peek was to risk an unwelcome or dangerous intrusion.
To all who knocked, who tried the door, but found it locked, I can only apologize and thank you from my deepest heart. Please understand that the person who greeted you at the door in those times might have been nearly unrecognizable to you. I dreaded your look of horror should you peek into my dreary hovel of isolation, only to recoil at what was there. During times when help is most needed, it is regrettably least welcomed. This is not any rejection of you, but only an aspect of my self-protective psychological mechanism to avoid possible rejection by others. A turtle retreating into its shell when threatened is an apt analogy for this reaction.
For those who have not traveled the road through a lonely wilderness, consider yourself blessed, though many of you I know have had trials and tribulations far worse than I, so I can only admire your strength and courage. After passing through this phase of life, I hope to be strengthened and able to offer support to others.
Some day I will probably want to delete this post when my inner world feels stabilized and the message no longer seems relevant. For now, this blog is the only way I know to convey what I wish I could say aloud. It takes effort to maintain the mask of an acceptable public persona while fulfilling social obligations, so please allow me to not discuss this while I seek answers.
If you recognize the conditions described here in yourself or others, under “Resource Links” below is a list of articles that can assist those struggling with depression and those who care for them.
Peace and Love to all.
- 9 Things Not to Say to Someone with Mental Illness – <http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/04/29/9-things-not-to-say-to-someone-with-mental-illness/>
- 10 Things You Should Say to a Depressed Loved One – <http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/10/20/10-things-you-should-say-to-a-depressed-loved-one/>
- Worst Things to Say to Someone Who’s Depressed – <http://psychcentral.com/lib/2010/worst-things-to-say-to-someone-whos-depressed/>
- You Can’t Fight Depression Alone – <http://psychcentral.com/lib/2010/you-cant-fight-depression-alone/>
- Depression Myths and Facts Demystified – <http://psychcentral.com/lib/2010/depression-myths-and-facts-demystified/>