Small

April 23, 2013 — 160 Comments

“Your blog has gone kinda quiet of late” He said. “I know” I said.

So here I am, with nothing much to say but with a sense that I should say it anyway.

I write this now from a plain. You know whenever you embark on something they all say to you ‘oh you will see the mountains and you will see the plains’ So this must be the plain. I wish there was a way to write a shrug of the shoulders. You know? When someone asks you how you are or how you’re doing and you don’t speak, you just shrug your shoulders? This post is a shoulder shrug. Its a blah. Its plain.
I credit this to one thing. Depression. I am in the midst of a relapse of my depression.
This is not fun and though I know this terrain very well, it doesn’t make it any easier to walk through.
I have been here for about 2 months now. I keep walking with the faithful self-talk that tells me ‘The end is just around the next bend ” but so far I don’t see the end, though I know it waits for me.
For those who know him, depression needs no explanation. He is such a sunken, sad thing.
I hate writing from this place. If you go back through the archives you will notice I have had breaks of writing that span weeks and weeks and if there is a break it will always be due to depression.
Writing is my joy and though I may not publish all that I write, I can tell you that I write nearly every day but there is a black dog which weaves in and out of the trees, with one eye always upon me. When it chooses to take me it will take not my breath or my heart beat but it takes the thing that makes the very breath worth breathing and every heart beat worth beating.
It takes my joy.

I hate my depression. I call it my own because it is my own. The way depression stealthily tracks a person and then quietly pounces upon a person is unique to them. You learn to sense it is close even before you see it. You become familiar with the scent of it which is carried on the wind towards you even months before you see its dark hide creep over the horizon toward you.
Depression has always been and perhaps will always be my hunter.

“Because I am by nature blind, I wisely choose to walk behind; However, to avoid disgrace, I let no creature see my face. My words are few, but spoke with sense; And yet my speaking gives offence: Or if to whisper I presume, the company will fly the room…”

My depression silences me and shrouds me from the world. It makes breathing laboured and eyelids heavy.
I still see the lemons ripening on the tree and I still hear the chorus of my favourite songs but it doesn’t touch me. I want to lean down and smell the sharpness of the half ripe lemon and I want to sing the words to that song that only weeks ago bought my hands above my head and yet all I do is stand there and think ‘oh look, there is a lemon, and oh listen, this is a song’
Nothing more.

I think back to everything I learned of mental illness and can read back through the bookmarked pages specific to depression and yet no matter how much I learn I cannot graduate from the constriction of the depression. Just the same as someone may read all about flight and feathers and wings and find themselves no more a bird than when they started.

I miss friends yet I feel a cramp in my fingers as I try to dial their numbers.
I miss my mother but I don’t tell her.
I lie under 3, 4, 5 blankets and my skin still prickles from the cold.

I swallow the purple and green pill every morning with my orange juice but it doesn’t bring the joy back, it just manipulates the right brain receptors so that the parts that process pain and sadness and goodness and ease are smoothed out so nothing feels particularly bad anymore, but then nothing feels particularly good either.

Depression is an invisible pain, similar to if you felt the distinct and specific agony in your arm, yet when you inspect it, it looks perfect.
You can’t see a bruise or a cut…you seem to be able to move it around…
Occasionally I will speak up about it, expressing that I am in deep pain and sadness.
“But your life is fine!” They will say. “You have this and you have that, nobody has died, you have friends….’
That is like crying out due to the agony of that deep pain in your arm and someone you care about saying ‘your arm is fine! look! There is no cut, there is no bruise! You can move it up and down! So stop feeling the pain!’
 
I know the arm seems normal, and this adds to the agony of it!!! There is now confusion and doubt. Am I going crazy? If I can see that there is nothing wrong, then why won’t it stop hurting?
I hate depression.
I hate it when I am in the throes of it, and I hate it when it lifts and I feel normal again because then every night I go to sleep I wonder if I will smell the scent of it on the wind in the morning and know it is on its way back home.
I hate that I have prayed over it, have had people pray over it, have read about it and have people who have read about it speak to me about it and yet it keeps coming back.
When my depression is here I don’t have life, I am just alive.
But when the depression slinks away over that horizon and into the woods I have life again and during those times you will never find a happier girl.
When I am alive I can describe to you in perfect detail the sharp, zesty, greenness of a nearly ripe lemon. My laughter will take over my whole body. I will ball up my fists close to my chest and say how beautiful a tree or a scene or a photo or a sunset is over and over and over and over again. I hold my children close, I write letters, I buy plants and soil and pots and make gardens, I paint my toenails an unreasonably bright pink and and if a good song comes on I will sing along to it too loud and with too many arm movements. I will miss my friends so much that I cry and then beg them to visit me, I will write until my fingers hurt, I will put fresh flowers on my table and cook interesting meals and spend hours on the phone talking about nothing at all. I sometimes raise eyebrows because my enthusiasm for life seems over the top and exaggerated.
But that is ok because it’s true.
When I am alive I am so thankful for life that even the smallest evidences of it cause me immense joy and satisfaction.
Soon I will be back to that place, but right now I have a black dog sitting beside me and no matter how many bones I throw he just wont budge. But I wanted to write to you anyway, just to let you know I am still here.
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160 responses to Small

  1. 

    Winston Churchill said, when you’re walking through hell, keep walking.
    All the best to you.

  2. 

    Dear Vanessa, my now ex-boyfriend has anxiety disorder and depression. Both cripple him, and make taking part in life hard for him.
    While I have no “real” depression, it does run in my family, and occasionally I catch a whiff of it for a few days – just a general feeling of – for lack of a better expression – blah. So I sort of get where you are. Hang in there, Vanessa, hang in there.
    The description you gave reminded me of a book – Living with a Black Dog by Matthew Johnstone, which described rather simply how a depressed person feels. I read it when my ex added depression to the anxiety disorder.
    Sending you some sunshine, and hoping it gets where it is needed most. ;)

  3. 

    I don’t know your depression, but I know mine. They’re real and all the more frustrating because of the reaction others have to your “feeling a little down.” After all these years I wish I knew the magic to send depression away, especially away for good, but I think I’m getting closer. I can’t do medications because I react adversely to them. Repeating endless, positive self-talk doesn’t work because I know it isn’t sincere. I’m starting to think that prevention is best, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten. Try to not be alone. List that which you’re grateful for. Write about happy experiences. Writing this blog was brave and I admire you deeply for having written it. Just because you suffer depression doesn’t mean you’re a weak person…quite contrary.

  4. 

    This is beautiful in the most perfect way and I am thankful to have found it. God, I remember those months…now they pack into days just as hard and sometimes I wonder if I will survive- and sometimes I know I have no choice, each feeling equally threatening.
    I want to hug you. And save you. And heal you. And yet, I think you saved me me a little. A Rhiana songs says,
    “Funny you’re the broken one, but I’m the only one who needed saving…”
    Amen.
    I think you know this, but I need to hear it- you are not alone.
    M

  5. 

    Oh, sweetie, so sorry. Been there too. It will pass. Not that that’s much comfort, probably. Hang in there, even on the days when it is by your fingernails. You’ve got hugs and prayers flowing to you. What helps me usually is sun, flowers,spring-type place. And patience.

  6. 

    Vanessa;
    I read notes from the Universe. Here is one that I particularly liked for you:

    Wouldn’t it be nice to know, and I do mean REALLY, REALLY know, that everything – absolutely everything – is going to turn out just fine?

    Really fine. Outrageously so.

    Vanessa, you can know this right now, as I do, if you just see yourself right now, as I do: You’re just another part of me.

    Santi, Santi, Santi -
    The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars

  7. 

    It’s hard to know what’s worse sometimes isn’t it? Those ‘meh’ days when you feel nothing (usually down to meds) but indifference or those days when you wish you weren’t here.

  8. 

    I hope you pull though your depression, I have suffered the day i got put in this wheel chair 4 years ago i am on the meds but i understand the pain you are going though let me know if their is anything i can do for you!

  9. 

    Beautiful post. I hope it lifts soon. Funny/sad how some of the most amazing words/art pieces, etc. come from the darkest places. Wish I had magic words to make it disappear, just remember you will get through. There will ve relief & joy again. Maybe even for just one moment each day.

  10. 

    Thanks for sharing, and *not* being silent!

    And I very recently read (or reread?), and, shared with a dear friend, saying in at least part:

    a couple blog entries I think you* may do well to read.
    they’re *very* well
    written, and good, strong, intense material:

    http://onethousandsingledays.com/2013/03/09/the-heart-of-life-is-good/
    http://onethousandsingledays.com/2012/09/23/qualification-pain/

    *okay, and I’d do well to read them too, and have, and perhaps ought
    read them again

  11. 

    Hi Vanessa I put a comment up the other day and it’s gone. If I have broken some protocol by putting a link to my blog I apologise. It was done not to acquire more views, I had written about depression and how close I came to ending my own life and wanted to give your readers some insights into surviving this terrible affliction.
    As always a loyal follower of your blog.
    Laurie

  12. 

    I miss you and I’m glad to hear from you. You will look out from the mountaintops again. Hang in there. Be kind to yourself. Take good care.

  13. 

    Oh my goodness. “yet all I do is stand there and think ‘oh look, there is a lemon, and oh listen, this is a song’
    Nothing more.”
    This is exactly what I was feeling today when I wrote about “creative fatigue.” The way you described depression is exactly how I feel……in and out of it. When you’re out, you’re worried about when it will sneak up on you again so you are tentative about enjoying the light. The part about trying to call your friends and missing your mom…..but not being able to take action…..I so get it. All of it, I get it. I have never tried medication though. This winter seemed to be particularly long for me and now I try to stay outside as much as possible because it seems like extended periods of light help me. Thanks for sharing!

  14. 

    Praying for you, and that God’s love and mercy give you comfort and peace beyond all understanding in short order! Take a hug from anyone and know that many more here would gladly give you that hug!

  15. 

    One day, when you’re through the tunnel, you’ll be able to read this and know how strong you actually are. In the meantime, I add my voice to the others and say ‘you’re always closer to the solution than you think. Keep going’.

  16. 

    Vanessa,

    Thanks for following our blog. We hear you and want you to know that you are loved and a very special gift that the Father has given us. Remember that when you feel that ‘big dog’ coming, you are in our prayers. there is One who sticks ‘closer than a brother’ and will help you deal with it, if you ask. With Him at your side, the dog doesn’t have a chance.

    Russell and Sherrie

  17. 

    I know that dog too well. I have questioned God, why can’t this be prayed away? My answer that I get is that it is part of my unique existence and in my journey, I can learn lessons that I can share, and in so doing, be a better human being. I know its hard but thank you for opening yourself up. We are all meant to be connected. It is this strange world that tells us we must go it alone, buck up, handle it…and all the other nonsense cliches we throw about. God loves you, right where you are. Bless you, child, you are loved.

  18. 

    Hello Vanessa
    It is my sincere prayer that the peace of Jesus Christ will come to you. You are in both my prayers and the prayers of my sweet wife LaShuan.

    Thomas

  19. 

    Love the honesty of bleeding into our computers…consider this: perhaps your writing depends on being able to walk every so often on the dark side of the moon…you have what writers require: real knowledge of the contrasts that exist… thank you so much for visiting my blog..

  20. 

    This is the most moving piece I have ever read about the throes of depression. As someone who is just learning about this condition that most decidedly steals joy, this was especially timely for me. I hope it passes soon. I hope it never comes back. I hope the black dog dies a cruel death. All the best to you from me!

  21. 

    Vanessa, I will pray for you today … that you would sense the God of all comfort as He has you safely in His mighty hand. I pray you sense Him in you, around you, beside you and behind you… I pray for glimpses of the awareness of His love … for really it’s only tiny amounts we can handle -for now :-) Blessings to you!

  22. 

    You have spoken everything I have felt. Thank you for sharing.

  23. 

    I liked the inner story. I don’t see enough of that.

  24. 

    Ah babe, glad u wrote this. I’m in a semi-state of some sort if a depressive state myself… I was kinda numb to it, but felt incrediy drawn to ur blog just now, and u’ve made me realise that I’m early-stage depressed right now.

    I don’t wanna speak to no one – I have NO idea what to say.
    Everything I love doing is making me resentful, coz I cannot be bothered to do them. Yet if I stop doing them, my depression’ll get worse.

    However, today I laughed til I fell on the floor whilst playing frisbee in the park with friends. I felt a deep & humble knowing of Christ during Mass. I had to contain my sense of humour during yoga practice, coz I didn’t wanna piss my teacher off!

    So I have lots to be grateful for. All the things I mentioned above, I did today. And I detested the thought of doing them.

    I need to be gentle with myself atm, but gently nudging aswell. I don’t wanna descend into the full-blown hell of a depressive state.

    Life is hard for people with mental health problems. But we gotta stick together – I’m SO glad u wrote this piece, and I’m grateful that I was led to it :)

    Sending love, connection, gratitude your way xxxx

  25. 

    First i just wanna say that this comment is irrelevant to this specific post but i love ur blog!
    Because i love ur blog i have nominated you to something call blog award: https://amwana.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beautiful-blogger-award/

  26. 

    Who does the depression belong to?

  27. 

    Your honesty and ability to communicate the inside to the outside is a great help to others. I reblogged this for men with whom I work. Thanks for helping others identify and address their own items. fearlessfathers.org

  28. 

    Reading this was like reading about myself. So good to know I’m not the only one…..

  29. 

    I’ve suffered from the same thing so therefore hope you are able to work things out or resolve things. Having others to talk to or vent to usually helps me, but journal writing seems to be quieter.. Good luck and sending blessings and prayers your way!

  30. 

    On your darkest days of writing, you still shed light on people’s days…I feel bad to say that I enjoyed reading your weary heart poured onto paper. Embrace life, yo :)

  31. 

    “When my depression is here I don’t have life, I am just alive.” This might be the best way I’ve ever heard (read) someone articulate the true feelings that are caused by depression. I hope that reading my (and others) feedback helps lead that black dog back to the place from which he came.

  32. 

    I have nominated you for the WordPress Family Award follow the link and find out the details.
    Jenness
    http://jennessjohnston78.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1054&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2

  33. 

    I loved this bit:
    I think back to everything I learned of mental illness and can read back through the bookmarked pages specific to depression and yet no matter how much I learn I cannot graduate from the constriction of the depression. Just the same as someone may read all about flight and feathers and wings and find themselves no more a bird than when they started.
    It doesn’t matter how many times we go through it and think we learn from it, we are no more a bird than when we started. It’s a part of us like a scar that no one can see. But because we have been through it before means we can get through it again and our words can help other flightless souls to get through it too.
    Thanks for following lemonsandspuds, lets keep an eye on each other.

  34. 

    So many different kinds of depression, both chronic and episodic. Some of it treatable, some of it so complex it’s hard to know where to start and some of it an unwelcome guest that can be made to leave in time. I’m no doctor so please take what follows with a large grain of salt–what I am about to say is just a layperson’s (and a stranger at that) point of view based on very limited knowledge. Some, and again I caution that I do mean some–episodes of depression may be triggered by the body’s need to just shut down non-essential systems and devote more cognitive energy to problems at are now at hand and in need of further attention. You are well into two journeys–the one the blog is about and, of course the far greater one that this just sits inside for now. Perhaps you have reached a point on one or the other journey where some changes need to be made. If this is the case then maybe you should give yourself ‘permission’ to drop out of your regular daily routines for as long as it takes to sort things out and move ahead with a revised plan and outlook when you are ready. In either case, I continue to wish you all the best with both journeys.

    • 

      You know what, you are totally right!
      This year I was supposed to be completing my final year of university and transitioning into full time nursing work. My degree transfer did not go through in time which meant I was forced to take a year off my studies.
      At first I was devastated… But now I see it was meant to be this way. I am trying to learn to relax, enjoy my children, family and beautiful new home. I’m even planning an overseas holiday for me and my children.
      I am learning so much about myself and how to deal with this illness.
      Your words were filled with wisdom… Thank you.

  35. 

    You have literally hit the nail on the head, and it’s funny because when I started reading this it was purely due to looking for a justifiable means of procrastination, and I’ve just read it, and suddenly something inside my tummy had just lurched, and everything in me has just sighed a sigh of, not relief, but understanding. I read this and I feel such a sad connection with what you are talking about – the perceived irrationality of it all, the frustration, the feeling of…’bluegggh’

    I am to everyone else who knows me one of those girls who is always chirpy, happy – probably annoyingly so, and when I am it’s never disgenuine, but it’s always in my own company that I am often greeted by that obnoxious, and wholly unwelcome creature of self-doubt, anxiety and uncertainty in myself, my future and my abilities. I have so much going for me at the moment, so much potential, opportunity; yet, I can’t help feeling deflated, lacklustre and despairingly unmotivated. I sit and stare at my computer screen trying to find the words to write about my essay, and I can’t, I’ve lost all power of academic articulation. Yet, I can sit here and this is coming streaming out of me effortlessly, I can’t stop it. What’s wrong with me? Why do I feel I can’t live up to the image of confidence, togetherness and success everyone else seems to see of me?I can give the best advice to everyone else but myself, my mind and emotions feel foggy and I just don’t know why…… I feel like I’m just writing for the sake of writing now yet the words are still leaving my mind and running through my fingertips and tapping the keys of this keypad and I don’t have control over it. It’s like a weight pulling me down into the floor, a continuous *sighhhhhhhh*

  36. 

    You write very well. I know some of what you write. Thanks for visiting and following my blog. Best wishes.

  37. 

    It has been just over a week since you ‘Liked’ / ‘Followed’ my blog. I have been remiss in coming to thank you. But … thank you.

    When someone comments or likes on one of my blog posts I wonder why. Did they just hit the like randomly? Did the blog post mean something? I try not to write about things that sadden me nowadays … I find it does not necessarily help with my depression when I am in headed there. But the one you liked, it was about helping others … about eliminating the stigma. (It was a guest blog by a friend actually.)

    When I do write about depression and someone comments or likes, I often wonder … and hope that the person is not going through something bad or sad. So when I come to thank them … I search….to see if there is a clue on why they read what I wrote. I look at the date of the comment or like.

    I did that this time too. And saw this blog post. And decided that saying ‘thank you for visiting” was not enough.

    I wanted to let you know I read your words….and whilst it might just appear words on a blog screen, in my head I am wishing that the sad feelings….the pull of darkness … I am wishing it would go away for you. I do not like anyone feeling that feeling. Too many of us do. I just wanted you to know that.

  38. 

    I feel for you for I know those feelings all too well. I wish you strength.

  39. 
    Jennifer Butler Basile May 12, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    Thank you for finding me. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it happened today. I was just writing about the same thing, then found this gorgeously haunting post.

  40. 

    Vanessa your words help another who has seen black dog appear at close quarters (not me) understand a little bit more, your description of how debilitating everyday life is and can be with depression is so achingly similar . It is a painful business .

  41. 

    This post is not a shrug. Far from it. It touched me deeply particularly the phrase, “When my depression is here, I don’t have life. I am just alive.” I so appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. Your writing speaks to me and I’ll commit to reviewing your works on Kindle. Thanks for stopping by my blog and letting me know you are out there.

  42. 

    You write so beautifully. I am so sorry for your sadness and pain. Can I send you my book (gift)? MAYBE it will help or just ease the pain enough for some light to come in.

  43. 

    I am so sorry for your pain and sorry. Can I send you my book (gift)? MAYBE it will help or at least ease your pain and let some light in

  44. 

    I found this post very interesting and far from the shoulder shrug you mentioned… As a person who also has a black dog called “depression” following them, I know how hard it can be to write during those times of uncertainty. However, it is moments such as those that convince me a writer is someone I can relate to, someone who will not just give me positive fluff, but hope despite the struggle life brings. Your challenge to remain single has caught the eye of many, and I hope in the future you will consider sharing more honest posts such as this… :)

  45. 

    Vanessa, This is my 1st time reading from your blog and I’m impressed, overwhelmed, Happy, sad, and can totally relate. Thank you for sharing your depression and how you see God & life. You are truely a talented writer, don’t let go of such a Gift from God. I sure need to hear your words as I’m sure millions Do. I’ve always been a very up beat happy chic with a love for The Lord & people, helping those in need, loving my kids to pieces, always hanging out with my 3 Besties which are the greatest women I know along with my momma and Granny and being married to the Man of More than My Dreams!!
    Untill 3 yrs 5 months &11 days ago……
    I lost my Big Awesome Marine , My Best Friend, My Soul Mate, My Love.
    Already out of the service, healthy but had a traumatic brain injury that unless we told u no one could tell. He got an ear infection in less than 24 hrs at 10:26 pm………gone to Heaven. That black dog meet me just outside his room, never moves very far from me, is always in my dreams and dispite the daily purple&green pills just won’t go away for good. I cherish my short moments of Joy that I get walking the beach at dusk
    or when my 3 kids are all Hm with me on movie & pizza nite which has become rare since my 17 yr old got a job. Your story’s are so close and so much of what I think & feel (not just depression ones)& what I need to hear.
    So I’d like to Thank You From the Bottom of my heart. You Rock…….

    Jewels

    • 

      Oh my dear…. Oh I have no words.
      You are the reason I write. You made my heart beat nearly clear out of my chest. You have endured a tragedy, but that is actually the remarkable thing. You ENDURED.
      Oh I actually have something for you. I will send it through to your email. It isnt much but I hope the words sing to you somehow.
      This comment of yours meant so much to me. Thank you and thank you.
      Ness oxxo

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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