I’ve battled depression on and off for nearly 30 years. During that time, I’ve had three bad episodes, week-long events when I needed help with my family life so I could make it to doctor’s appointments and throw darts at a medication chart to see what help might present itself to me.
I’ve also had exactly three days – count ’em three – when I’ve felt complete peace and enjoyed what I think must be the average amount of happiness “normal” people feel on most days. They were wonderful days and I hold out hope that someday a fabulous mood-disorder cure will be developed to allow me dozens more of those days.
With the exception of the aforementioned episodes, I am fine, just fine, as long as I stick to my medication-doesn’t-work-for-me regime of exercise, my happy light, eating a fairly healthy diet and getting a decent amount of deep sleep. Life inside my head is far from sunshine and rainbows, but I can participate fully in all parts of the world: work, family, second job as a closet novelist, church, friends, our dogs, random hobbies. Most of the time, I feel that life is hard but beautiful. (Or as the Momastery folks say, “Brutiful.“)
But now the Demon is back and it seems worse than the other times. I know this because I’m doing things I’ve never done before. I’ve missed Mass because the thought of driving there is overwhelming. I’ve sent regrets to wedding invitations because trying to figure out which dress to wear is too much. I’ve missed weekend meetings with friends because the thought of having to shower on a Saturday – or at least wash my face and comb my hair – makes me burst into tears.
I have almost no energy, and what little I have is reserved for my job. I know that eventually this episode, like bad weather, will end and I don’t want it to end with me unemployed, so all the strength I have goes to the Monday through Friday routine. I’m like a squirrel saving up for winter except I’m only saving up on the weekends for the rest of the week. I’m basically Just No Fun. And like the millions of others suffering from depression, I’ve felt really alone and for a bit, forgot what God looks like. This past week, I was reminded that God looks exactly like Love, and in my particular case, Love looks like this: