Shared in solidarity with my dear friend Kirsty, who is always much braver than I .
Spring Break is half over, and I’ve completely rearranged my furniture, seen a handful of movies, read a couple of books…and today I hit my boredom point. I know I hit this point because I dusted.
I never dust.
And as I dusted and rearranged the configuration of my entertainment center, I thought about last year’s spring break.
‘Twas grim, friends. ‘Twas very, very grim.
I had been careening toward a depressive episode for months, I’m certain of that as I look back. And something about spring break last year tripped the land mine and before I knew it, everything around me exploded.
I held on for a month–that was the soonest I could get in to see the therapist I wanted to try–and I really believe that the only thing getting me through that month was knowing I was 30 days from help. Then 29, 28, 27, and, well, you get the picture.
It wasn’t until this past January that I knew I was healthier. At the end of my session my therapist said, “When can I see you next?” and I replied, “I want to try and not schedule an appointment and see how it goes…”
I will never forget the smile on her face, how happy she was that I was better, or as I like to say, in remission.
Because one thing I know about having depression is that it can always come back. I worried about that as spring break started–what would trigger another depressive cycle this week?
I didn’t think it would be something as lame as having a couch delivered, but today I learned just how life looks on the other side of successful cognitive behavior therapy. See, I had measurements for the couch that it would fit in my living space, but I did not take into account how the couch would actually get into my apartment. So when the delivery guys showed up this morning and tried for 20 minutes to get it in the door, I said, full of shame and self-loathing,”Just take it back. I’ll take better measurements and get a different one.”
And both of the delivery guys said, “Oh no. We can get this. We just need to get creative.”
So they did get creative, for 25 more minutes, and I’m writing this from my new couch (which is quite comfortable). But I apologized over and over and felt such shame and idiocy–the exact feelings that triggered last year’s breakdown. But this year, I had tools. I knew what I needed to do.
First, I took a deep breath. Then I challenged all the self-talk that bombarded my brain. That didn’t work. So I allowed myself to be vulnerable, and I “reached out.” I texted a few friends, chatted with some pals on Facebook, explained the horror of what I was feeling. I wrote a little bit in a journal that will be buried with me, then I took another couple of deep breaths, and within a couple of hours, the shame was no longer there.
A year ago, that would not–no, could not–have happened.
I know some people might think that something as trivial as a couch delivery can’t possibly trigger a depressive episode, but I’m telling you, it can. That’s how cagey depression is. It will look at any possible break in resiliency and pounce, regardless of how inane it might look to someone on the outside.
Because even though I’m on the other side of my most recent bout, I will never be on the outside of depression. I will always be aware that I could be sick again, so I refuse to take for granted small and large victories, such as not spiraling into the darkness when a couch delivery took longer than expected.
A year ago, I was really quite sick. I almost can’t believe how sick I was, especially knowing how healthy I feel right in this moment. The “other side” is a lovely place to be.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression and is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.