Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Let's talk about depression

Depression runs in my family. Not virulently, just a low-grade background for the women of the Tanner line.

Melvina Tanner my great-great-great grandmother died in the state asylum. She was a psychopath.

Grandma Jones, her daughter, spent a year in bed after losing two children in the same year.

Grandma O'Neill had low grade depression all her life. She coped, supported herself after being widowed and even enjoyed a late second marriage.

Grandma Wymer would have denied she was depressed, She carried on with frantic energy, cleaning, cooking, working, always busy, always on the run from silence and being alone.

My mother fought it. She didn't always win. The baseline memory of my childhood is coming home and mom was in bed. She did not work outside the home after she got pregnant with my sister in 73, until 1983, when she went back to nursing.

I fight it.
Some days I cope. I adult. I go to work, I handle the house. Some days I accomplish much, above and beyond the basics. Some days, I sit in the recliner with kittens atop me and crochet my way through too many episodes of the TV show du jour. Some days I lie in bed and stare at the walls. Sometimes I can harness the depression and write books.

But always, the depression lies to me. Always, it tells me I can't. Always, it and chronic pain steal my energy, my enthusiasm. The only question is, how hard am I fighting today? How loud is it? Sometimes the lies are whispers and the pain is low. On these days I accomplish much. Sometimes it shouts and the pain is high. On these days, we eat too many hot pockets.

I make things.



Beautiful things come off my hooks and needles, and yet, all I hear in my head is jokes about the ugly homemade sweaters and mental words about how old-fashioned and tacky crochet is. Because I can make the afghan, but I can't do the painting. (My grandmother did the painting in the photo) I can't draw. I can't sing. How can I consider myself artistic?

The depression lies. I know it lies. And yet, it is so pervasive, such a mental background noise, that I have to be alert to it every minute or it gets me.

My daughters fight it.
Oli wears a semi-colon tattoo to remind her that she needs to keep going. She battles chronic pain and sometimes it all gets the better of her.
I got her this for the bad days:

Yeah, it's a celebrity based t-shirt (the guys from Supernatural).
Knowing that other people have this--even famous people-- and that she isn't alone seems to help more than anything.

Remember, if you have it, if you love someone who has it, we're listening to a voice that lies to us constantly. A voice that tells us we're second rate, useless, worthless. And some days, we can't hear you loving us over it. And we don't love ourselves. How can we? If you knew what we were, you wouldn't love us either, the depression tells us.

So we fight. And the volume changes day by day, minute by minute. Sometimes, we can change this ourselves. Sometimes we find our Guide who helps us learn to dial it down. (Yes, "Sentinel" reference) But we keep going, minute by minute sometime.

I don't know if it ever ends. I don't know if I'll ever get better, But I do know, I want to see if it does.

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