Depression Goggles

If you struggle with any sort of depression for long enough you can start to catch yourself slipping into negativity right at the start of a cycle.  That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to stave off the descent completely, but it might help you plod through a little faster with more self-awareness.  It also might help you feel less guilty as you watch everyone around you form concerned looks on their faces.

The precursor to recognizing your unique brand of depression goggles is, of course, realizing that:

Depression exists.

It can be triggered by many, many different things (situational  or chemical).

You can get better.

You might become depressed again.

And…Say it with me, everyone…It’s not your fault.

Here is an everyday scenario:

Our alarm clock simulates the gradual sunrise and I head downstairs to start making breakfast and put on a pot of coffee.  The kids trickle in with sleepy hugs and plop down at the kitchen table with their own moods and perspectives on the day.  We talk about how cold it will be outside today and whether or not they’ll be able to play on the swingset. 

We continue to chat through breakfast and pick which homeschool subject should lead off our learning for the day.  I am ready to help the kids along in their school work, partially because I enjoy it, and partially because I am excited to get to my writing. 

Same Scenario with Depression Goggles:

Our primal alarm clock simulates the gradual sunrise and I think, “Are you kidding me?  It feels like I barely slept.  I ache and hurt and I guess that’s just how I’ll feel now every morning.”   I head downstairs to think about what to make for breakfast and I desperately need some coffee.  I cannot decide what to make for breakfast. 

The kids trickle in with sleepy hugs and plop down at the kitchen table with their own moods and perspectives on the day.  I can feel each of their overflowing anxieties, enthusiasm, and reluctance to start the day at the same time.  It is overwhelming.

They don’t know what they want for breakfast.  I need to let the dog out, clean up the backyard today, and probably go to the grocery store.  All these regular activities converge and pile up into a mountain of suffocating and unfulfilling chores.  The kids ask me questions about the weather, but I shush them and say, “Guys, I’m trying to think about breakfast.”  There is too much noise, inside and outside my head.

When I manage to pull some breakfast together, I feel bad that they’re not eating anything particularly fresh or healthy.  I rationalize, “It’ll just have to do.  I can only do so much.”

I start to offer them seconds and thirds because I can hardly stand the thought of sitting down with everyone to start the schoolwork.  They all talk at once and I just won’t be able to handle it today…

In the second scenario, there is nothing for me to look forward to.  I forget to eat.  I cannot seem to remember that I will not actually feel this bad every day of my life.  I can’t see past my own dark clouds and mental spiraling to appreciate my kids, my home, our ability to homeschool, and having a really stimulating, fun job.

When I step back and find some clarity--when the black clouds part and the depression goggles come off, I could, and sometimes do feel incredibly guilty for filling our home with negative energy, or I can choose to do better next time.

So, if it’s not my fault and I can’t control it, how can I do better next time?

I can notice my hunched over posture and lack of hope, drive, or excitement for life.  I can realize that I'm not taking the time to really listen to my children.  Then I can use a mood power-up, or several, and stamp it out!!!  (Warning:  This may involve actual stamping of feet.)

Either way, I’m lucky enough to have a husband who has taken the time to learn about depression.  He is patient and loves me anyway.  I have a wonderful doctor and a trusted therapist.  I have an outlet for expression that allows me to turn something as ugly, and potentially destructive, as depression into an instructive and even artful experience for other people.

My point is that “it takes a village” of caring people to keep my moods from getting the best of me.  I’m not ashamed of that anymore.  I’m doing the absolute best I can with my awesome, imperfect mind.

Any thoughts on depression?  Please share with fellow depression-goggle-wearers!

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