Depression is a cancer.
Don’t hate me for the comparison. I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone and I don’t claim to understand what any cancer, let alone a terminal diagnosis would do to a person. But when people talk about the power we all have to choose to be happy and use as an example the people who go through terrible trials like dealing with cancer, and yet still remain cheerful through it all, it makes me feel like something is wrong with me. Which, incidentally, there is. It’s called Depression.
I hate to admit it, but I find myself a little jealous of those people who can endure such trials and still put on a happy face.
I have absolutely nothing wrong with my life and yet I’m often miserable, lately anyway. I’d almost rather suffer and remain optimistic than have a great life and wallow in self-pity. I know, I know, I’m going to get struck by lightning, or cancer, or both for saying that. But when you are in the depths of despair and there’s no way out, nothing you can do to improve it, and nothing to blame it on, you’d almost do anything to make it go away. And some people DO do anything to make it go away. Let’s not forget the 1 million people in this world who commit suicide every year. Don’t worry, I’m not thinking of committing suicide, but I have been so depressed that I’ve wished to die before. Sometimes the hopelessness is that bad. And the irony is that I have everything going for me. I have a sweet, loving husband who works hard so I can stay home with our kids, and even helps around the house. I have great kids who share with others, do their chores and homework and are generally kind and obedient. I have a nice house in a safe neighborhood, a reliable car, a great support system through friends, family, and church, and I have my health. I have absolutely nothing to complain about. So why do I feel like I will never be able to get out of bed ever again? Why do I feel like crying all the time? I know the answer. It’s a chemical imbalance, it’s hereditary, and it’s Depression. Knowing that does help, but only a little.
I’m reading The Fault in Our Stars by: John Green. I’m not done with it, but so far it’s amazing. The protagonist is a teenage girl with a terminal case of Lung Cancer (don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler, you find that out in the beginning). It’s a pretty funny book, she has a dry wit that actually makes me laugh out loud, but it’s also very powerful. One of the things that struck me was when she says she is tired from a “busy day of Having Cancer.” I thought how true that is. Cancer is all-consuming. It can become your life. Even if you aren’t being very productive per se, you are still in the business of battling a disease. All the time.
It reminds me of depression.
I was busy all day today fighting the battle of depression.
I’ve got nothing to show for it but one clean load of dishes, two (exactly two) clean counters, and kids who are alive and mostly well. I haven’t showered or changed out of my PJ’s, I slept most of the day, and I didn’t clean my dirty house. I didn’t go anywhere or do much of anything, and yet I still feel exhausted as if I had fought a battle for my life, and I kind of have. I was busy all day trying to get up the gumption to do that one load of dishes and by golly, I did it! If I hadn’t done it I might have spiraled further into the depths self-loathing and woe, but because of that hard-fought battle, I can say that I am at least maintaing, if not moving upward.
Yes, I was productive today, I was busy all day Having Depression.
I am a success! I am a warrior! And I will do even better tomorrow. I might even clean three, count ’em, THREE counters! But most of all I will not hate myself for something I can’t help. I can’t just snap out of it, and more faith and prayer will not make it go away. Although, working with my doctor and taking baby steps toward my goals will.
If I had cancer I would try to tell myself every day how amazing I was for living that day, and that every task was an accomplishment. As it is, I will tell myself every day that I am amazing for maintaining a certain level of composure and sanity. I will fight the battle with all-consuming disease that is depression. And I will win.