I need to tell you something.
Moving back to New Hampshire has been really, really hard. Things are finally getting easier, but March and April were really tough months.
A thing about me that you should know, if you don’t already, is that I’m a really cheerful, optimistic person who happens to suffer from depression. The kind that isn’t circumstantial, that no amount of cheering up will alleviate. (You may have seen Allie’s humorous-but-accurate take last week.) It’s a force I work against all the time — sometimes coping with it takes everything I have, and other times, it’s just a dull roar that barely interferes with my life — but it’s always there. For the most part, it’s been well managed for the last couple of years. I take a low-dose antidepressant but also manage both my depression and anxiety through things like moving my body (mostly walking & hoopdancing), and watching what I eat (mostly avoiding wheat).
The last few months have been a perfect storm of what my former therapist would call trigger stacking. The week after saying goodbye to my family and moving east, R.T. started a new job that takes him out of the house for 12 hours a day, several days a week. He also got immediately re-immersed in the social life he had before we moved and I… well, didn’t. I felt really lonely here. I was resentful that I moved back for him and I felt guilty about that. The weather was terrible, which I am incredibly sensitive to — probably more than any other single factor. I owed a f*ckton of money at tax time. April is my busiest month, workload-wise. etc., etc.
I am fortunately not so bowled over by my depressive episodes that I can’t function. (Usually.) I know a lot of people are and I know how frustrating that is. But I just keep on keepin’ on, which is maybe not always the best thing to do. Not slowing down and being gentle with myself eventually leads to breaking down. I’m really fortunate that R.T. is so understanding of this disease and helps me know when to ease up and when to push through. Between his support and my own experience, my depressive episodes feel more like a nuisance than a death sentence. I am able to cope much easier just by reminding myself that it will pass.
Indeed, things are getting easier. Spring finally arrived and brought a long streak of days that were sunny and 65-degrees. As the end of April neared, my workload eased up substantially. I’ve been spending more time with my friends. R.T. is cutting back his hours at his new job so that he can focus on studio work, so I’ll have my partner-in-all-things around to help out a lot more. I adopted this guy:
I’m feeling a lot more like “myself” again — like the version of myself that I strive to be, who is silly and lively and upbeat.
This isn’t the most uplifting post to reappear with after being quiet here for a couple of months — but it’s honest, and that’s important to me. I believe the stigma of depression is dangerous. I used to worry about talking about it because I was afraid it would deter people from working with me. The truth is, though, I’m proud of my ability to cope with depression. I’m proud of the years of therapy I spent learning how to function as a highly sensitive person with major depressive disorder. I’m proud that I run a successful business and maintain a full social calendar even when those things feel like an overwhelming amount of pressure. I’m proud enough of these things that I’ve stopped saying “my depression doesn’t define me”, because the truth is that it DOES define me — it defines me as a survivor, as a tiny warrior. It defines me as someone who has been there and made it through. It defines me as a sister and an ally in what can feel like a desolate emotional wasteland.
That’s why talking about it is so important to me. I want you to know that I’m here.