Just for Clarification Purposes – BandBackTogether BlogAThon

Originally posted at StarvingWriterAtLarge

I’ll warn you right now.  You may not like the tone of this post.  You may think I”m talking down or being condescending.   I promise you, that’s not it at all. I’m just wanting to help people understand what having a mental illness is about.  I hope it helps, at least, to make me seem a little more human, a little less scary, and that you’ll be willing to give me a chance.
That said  I just want you to know that I am not-

-a bitch
-a sympathy whore
-taking out things on you
-feeling sorry for myself

I suffer from, and live with  DEPRESSION.   Depression is-
-a chemical imbalance in one’s brain
-an actual medical condition
-for the most part treatable
-a major life complication and pain in my fat ass.

Depression is NOT-
-‘all in my head’
-‘something I can ‘snap out of’
-a cry for attention

Everyone’s depression is different. I’ve lived with mine since I was fifteen, which means in October I’ll have dealth with this for thirty-five years.( I’m thinking of baking it a cake)  Sometimes, mine    is combined with anxiety, which makes getting things done that involve leaving the house during the course of a day, for lack of a better word,  interesting,  BUT-
-I can tell you the number of tiles in my living room ceiling (about 110)
-I call tell you the number of steps from the couch to the bathroom (45)
-I basically know the results of most lie detector and DNA tests before Maury tells me. (It’s a gift)

When the depression is bad, it’s like a living thing, a black cloud over my head, an elephant sitting on my chest, a noose around my neck.
It makes me grumpy.  It makes me snap and scream and swear at the people I love the most in this world.  It makes me think no one loves me.  It’s pushed some people away permanently, and that breaks my heart.  It makes me believe that I’m worthless, that no one loves me, that I’ll never be anything worthwhile.

There is a good side.   Of course this good side happens when I diligent about my self care, when I see my therapist regularly, and when, I allow myself to believe that better living through chemistry, in other words, taking the prescribed meds, and taking them as prescribed can help.
Then, depression is a motivator. As a writer I suppose I can describe it as a protagonist to my antagonist, a rival, a challenge.  It’s a reminder of what I no longer want to be, how I no longer want to act.    It fuels my writing.   It gives me an outlet for my stories and poems.
And, when I have I good day, or I can look back and recognize that I’m no longer doing something that used to hurt me or make things worse, it’s a marker for how far I’ve come.

In all likelihood,  I’ll always have this.   Then again, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be exactly who I am
-a writer
-a loyal and sympathetic friend
-an excellent listener
-a strong,( and according to some people), brave, intelligent woman with a lot to offer the world

And that would be a shame.  So, in a strange way, I’m grateful for my depression.  Most days, anyway.