Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tis the Season

At the end of every year there is a burning light, and throughout each month the distance from that light becomes less and less as we trundle towards it. When we reach the end, the world is dark--we have passed through sunrise, daylight, and starlit nights, and the flame is nearly gone. We blow it out or watch it fade just in time. Somewhere on the horizon someone strikes another match, another flame blazes into the darkness, and we start over again.

But for me, this year, I never seemed to get any nearer to the light. Despite how I anxiously scrambled toward its glow, it was snuffed out before I got a chance to reach it. When this happens, reaching the next light is rather impossible. It hasn't been lit. When this happens, there is a great deal of wandering in the dark without any guidance or sense of direction, and we may not even see the next light when it is lit because we get lost.

If this sounds familiar or resonates with you somehow, there's a chance you've experienced depression the same way I have.

I have written, albeit briefly, about my depression a handful of times on this blog. I prefer not to talk about it on this platform because in spite of the decreasing amount of stigma surrounding the issue, there are still individuals who are not "safe" people to tell. There is the person who once told my eighth grade English class in a reprimanding tone, "Happiness is a choice." In addition, there are still people who will respond to another's depression with comments like, "It could be worse," and to add to their blithe statements, will often give examples of people who have it worse.

In any case, this post is not written for those people.

This post is written, first of all, for the people like me: The people who get it, who have been there in the dark too. However, it's also for the people who may have stood back and been confused by my irregular temperament. It is for those who were shocked by aggressive words or ignorant statements, by my impulsive actions or dramatic reactions, or even periods of what looks like laziness. If I seemed overly sad about something you thought was insignificant, if I was so excited about something I appeared agitated and ill-composed, or if you ever thought that my behavior was out of character--this year, or any year--it is likely because of depression.

I am not going to apologize for my feelings. They were real to me, even if they weren't realistic. I am only going to apologize if my behavior caused pain, confusion, or distress of any kind. You don't need to let me know if I hurt or disappointed you; just know that I am sorry, and I hope you will forgive me.

I have been able to cope with this, most days. I have a fairly reliable support system and people who will talk me through things. Sometimes the support system is there before I do something regrettable, but sometimes they are simply there for me in the backlash. And for the last several years I have not been overwhelmed by the depression that was so terribly consuming during high school and the year after. I felt relatively stable until this year, and following my surgery this February I realized that things were slipping out of place. I had a stressful spring and summer, and over the fall months it worsened until it suddenly came to a peak and I realized that for the first time in my life...

...this is real, and even with the proper support system in place, it is not going away. 

As a teenager the tumultuous experience of depression could have been blamed on an awful boyfriend or ridiculous hormones. As an adult I am distinctly aware that this is not how things should be. I have walked toward the light at the end of this year and watched it go out, and I know I do not deserve to wander aimlessly through the darkness.

Happiness is not a choice. Happiness is not even the goal. Happiness is a temporary, fleeting thing--and it is not the thing I want.

Yes, other people have it "worse," but that does not mean anyone has the right to dismiss my pain or decide that I am the antagonist in my own story.

I have taken steps to find healing and new ways to manage my depression, but it will be an extremely difficult first week. (My doctor essentially told me I should expect to feel varying degrees of awful.) That being said, I do not have time for those who refuse to respect the severity of this issue, or for those who won't acknowledge how imperative it is that I receive the support for which I am asking.

So I am taking a break this week.  From the people and situations which have hurt me, knowingly or not. From the people who don't understand. From the mindless, desensitized, media-driven world.

From Sunday, December 13th through Saturday December 19th I will not be on Facebook. You can feel free to text or call me (only non-advice conversations), and I will do my best to respond to messages on Facebook. There's a chance I will use Instagram and I might be present here on the blog (both automatically send updates to FB) but I haven't decided yet. Mostly I just want to avoid the senseless scrolling and the following fogginess.

And there you have it. Even writing this made me anxious... I worry that expressing my feelings and being vulnerable here will somehow have terrible consequences. Anyways. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I would appreciate any prayers you can offer, and encouraging notes/messages/calls/etc. are definitely accepted. As I said before, I'll do my best to respond if I'm feeling up to the task. Hopefully I'll be back in a week with a new light. :)