I haven’t written in a while, because, quite frankly, I’ve just been fatigued by the preponderance of horrible and outrageous news for…well, for the past year, as well as fatigued by life. I have interviews from six months ago, which was before I broke my collarbone and needed surgery, before I left a place I loved to move to Chapel Hill and into uncharted (for me) territory as a graduate student, and before my latest battle with depression.
I probably should have recognized the signs sooner—the aching in my bones, the struggle to rise in the morning, the listlessness with which I moved through my day-to-day life. But it’s easy to ignore the signs and symptoms of depression when hopelessness and exhaustion are prevailing for almost everyone who pays attention to the news. My disease has always been something I hide from others and myself by throwing myself into things with manufactured energy and excitement—and even I can’t distinguish my natural tendency toward goofiness and its more shrill, forced counterpart.
But part of getting older and wiser is knowing myself. Noticing that sleep is more elusive during the night and more enticing during the day. Recognizing the difference between normal sleepiness from a long day doing schoolwork and a deeper tiredness that has set itself beneath my skin and can’t be shed from a normally refreshing eight hours of sleep. Seeing the self-destructive tendencies start to take over as I push logic further down into the back of mind.
I sit a little too long in the car when I come back from running errands. I stop taking care of my basic needs. I long to reach for the pain pills my doctors gave me for surgery. I start to feel numb toward my friends and family, building barriers to protect myself, to protect them from me.
This time, I was lucky. As I laid in bed, unmoving, no longer able to ignore the despair ripping its way through my body, and my thoughts became darker, bleaker, I suddenly had a moment of self-preservation, and reached out.
Telling friends and family about my depression is difficult. I don’t want to hurt them. Even as my disease works to convince me no one cares, my heart knows the undeniable truth. It’s easier to stop talking and begin to push people away than bring them closer and risk causing them pain. But accountability is critical in managing something that can make you forget your true self. If I tell someone, I acknowledge what is happening is real. And that I need to take care of it, and of myself.
I’m lucky to have friends and family that will listen without judgment.
I’m lucky to have friends who sympathize, and friends who empathize. Friends who let me know they care even if they may not be able to fully understand, and friends who know the same demon well enough to sound a war cry.
I am lucky to be loved.
Friends, I return that love. Fiercely and without reservation. And I’m going to remember how to love myself too.
As we approach winter, and diminished sunlight, it can be harder to remember the brightness of life and sweetness of joy. For any of you that need someone, please know I am here.