It was to be expected, my jitters a canary call for a body wound so tightly that eventually something would snap. Our bodies know what is coming, at least mine does, long before I let myself acknowledge what is true. It didn’t take much, a few simple words to break me, my anger falling away in an instant, leaving loose limbs, heavy with uncaring and longing only for bed.
Actually, longing is too strong of a word. It wasn’t so much that I longed for sleep, it was that sleep was all that was left. I wanted nothing, not food or smiles or love or anger. Nothing really mattered anymore.
I am not a psychologist, so do not understand why depression hits when it does. What I do know is that when it hits, it is all encompassing. No amount of will or desire can lift you out of the depths. Desire does not exist down there, only a mind that mutters, “it doesn’t matter”, while simultaneously running through scenario after scenario seeking an explanation for the fall.
The fall happened, though, with nothing and nobody to blame, just a break of a final thread tying me to love. My mind raced at half speed, convincing me that I was not who I thought I was, that my life had been a lie. I wasn’t smart or kind or fun to be with. I wasn’t productive or helpful or full of purpose. I wasn’t even holy, unable to grasp for prayer as I lay weeping under the covers.
I am lucky, though, because no matter how loud these voices were, a whisper wriggled its way through, reminding me that it was possible, just barely possible, that these voices weren’t the truth. The whisper kept flickering, bravely illuminating memories filled with love.
I am lucky because bouts of depression are few and far between, and it is hard for me to stay buried for long when my husband looks on with worried eyes and my youngest drags me from bed to play games with him at lunch.
For them I am grateful, these boys who are willing to hold out their hands to lift me up.
I guess my reason for sharing today is this. Anybody can experience depression, even those with glittery lives filled with love. If you see yourself in this story, know that it is okay to feel your pain right now. I know you are trying to be strong. I was. But this pandemic is hard on every single one of us. We are experiencing communal suffering for so many reasons it is impossible to even count them all.
It is tempting to stuff down pain right now because your pain and my pain may feel common or inconsequential, not coming close to the pain felt by others. The news is filled with the dehumanizing of black lives, the elderly, and immigrants. Storms and fires have left people homeless and hopeless as they watch the trappings of their lives disappear. Their pain is a horrific kind of pain and it feels so much more important than ours. But pain demands to be felt. If we don’t give it our attention, our bodies will eventually find a way. At least mine did.
If all of this sounds familiar, if you have been or are in or will be in the depths, try to listen for the whispers. They are the light that will guide you from the darkness. The whispers are the voice of God, breathing with you, always, forever trying to reach your soul.
Not minutes after I finally summoned up the strength to send up a single simple prayer, my husband walked in, followed by my son, hoping for a game with his mom.
Your people are there already, loving you. I know you can’t see them, but trust me. They care about you and they want you back.
And, p.s., if you can’t find your way, if the whispers are too quiet, please get help from a mental health professional. These people are a special kind of gift from God.