Like Andrew and Becky, I too have faced the struggles of depression. My depression is cyclical, and is very contingent on the season. Every fall I start noticing that I’m finding it harder and harder to get up in the morning. As soon as work ends, I drive straight home and spend the next few hours on the couch watching Netflix, or reading (usually the former, because it takes less work). The deeper it gets into winter, the less likely it is that I get out of the house and do anything I’m not required to do. I even find myself taking more vacation time–not to do anything fun, but just to not have to get out of bed in the morning.When I first noticed this phenomenon, I thought it was just that I was in a slump in my career. I was working in retail, which takes a lot of energy and forced me to deal with some pretty unpleasant people–and of course didn’t pay all that well. I figured my lack of energy was tied to my job. However, once the days started getting noticeably longer, I found my joy returning, and began going out again to hang out with friends over coffee or dinner, actually went to see movies and cleaned the house, and just felt better about my life, my relationships, and the future.
I’m a pretty smart person, demonstrated by the fact that it didn’t take me very long to figure out the main source of my depression. A mere three or four years of cyclical depression that began about the time the daylight became noticeably shorter and ending just about the time it became noticeably longer, and I knew exactly what the problem was.
Of course, as with many people, my depression has more than one cause. I also suffer from ADD, which can range from mild symptoms to pretty severe inability to concentrate on anything. When my ADD is out of control, I find that many things in my life fall apart, and I feel terrible about life and my future. When this also corresponds with my SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), it’s even harder to snap out of it. This affects not only my mood and my likelihood of spending time anywhere but work and home, but also affects my relationships, my diet, the amount I exercise… everything!
“There’s one thing I know that I used to not know: it will pass. And it does.”
Just as I was thinking about what I would say in this blog post, I ran across an article in which Sarah Silverman recently opened up about her own struggle with depression. She made a point that I had wanted to make, but much more concisely and elegantly than I could have. “There’s one thing I know that I used to not know:” she said, about her occasional relapses into the dark, “It will pass. And it does.” That’s exactly right. It will pass. People like to spout that nonsense about things being darker just before the dawn, but that’s not true. The truth is that I honestly never know exactly when I’m going to feel better. I love Christmas, and while the weeks of decorating, baking, and visiting friends and family do offer a reprieve from the lethargy, it’s very much temporary. I’ve created coping mechanisms for my ADD (lots of lists, post-its, and day planners), my SAD (skylights are amazing!), and the depression that feeds on both of them (coffee in the morning does wonders, and exercise is a natural high with all kinds of beneficial side affects).
Life with depression is much like life with plantar fasciitis. It is not about whether it will come back, but when. However, depression is also not a permanent state; eventually it will end. The sun will shine, the weather will be warm and welcoming, and that perfect, spring green will adorn everything. Those are the good days. Remember them in the dark days because they will return.