Some Things About Depression

First off, depression sucks. It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s blinding. It’s like a wet, soggy blanket constantly weighing you down. It’s shame and worthlessness. It sucks.

I’ve come to know depression well in my life. I was first diagnosed as a sixteen-year-old, but when I look back at my life I think it started as a small child. There were times the depression left, where I was good and depression-free, even for years, but when it came back in the form of postpartum depression over fifteen years ago it never really left me.

Some people refuse to believe they have any form of mental illness. Or they acknowledge it, but use it as an excuse. I know I have it and can recognize the symptoms in myself most of the time. Unfortunately, depression often skews our perspective. It can make us believe we’re doing things we’re not, that we’re focusing on things we’re not and vice versa. It can even make us believe things aren’t as bad as they really are. I’ve had someone point it out to me, and I’ve also been able to see it in others.

One of the worst things about depression is that is can cause us to be selfish. Not in a narcissistic way, if that makes sense. We just tend to focus on our own struggles or needs we don’t feel are being met, rather than thinking of other’s struggles or whether their needs are being met. I saw it in myself the past couple of days, and I feel ashamed. It’s not that I don’t matter. I do, and I do need to try to help myself and do what I can to get myself out of this pit I’m in. But I can also think of others and do better to remember how much they matter too.

It might be more difficult to remember or recognize these things in the midst of sucky depression, but it is possible. And it is always possible to do better.

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The Strength We Should Admire

Today I saw a cartoon with two pictures. The first was of a person standing triumphantly on top of a mountain with the caption, “The Strength We’re Taught to Admire.” The other was a picture of someone struggling to barely make it out of a big, dark pit with the caption, “The Strength We Should Also Admire.”

I really needed to see that today. My depression has taken hold and strengthened against me significantly the last few days. Today I spent a lot of time in bed and a lot of time crying. Despite how much I wanted to spend the whole day in bed, pretending life didn’t exist, I accomplished a few things. I took my daughter to school and got my son off to school on his scooter. I took a shower, even if it wasn’t until the afternoon, and I never actually got dressed; I just stayed in my pajamas all day. I even made dinner and participated in our nightly family scripture study.

Most days I do much more than this. But today it took everything I had to do just these simple, little tasks. Rather than beating myself up for being so pathetic, I’m trying to feel good about how much I did, considering the big, dark pit I’m in right now. I hope everyone can celebrate those little things too, because sometimes it takes far more strength to accomplish them than it does to climb a mountain.

Rainbows and Stars

My coworker has this cute daily calendar. This is what was on it the other day:

When the rain is pounding us and the darkness, thick, envelops us it’s hard to always see the rainbow or the stars. But they are there. Sometimes it takes great effort. Sometimes it takes someone else reminding us. Sometimes it takes time—after the storm is gone and the light has come back—to realize we saw them.

I try to look for the lessons (the rainbow and stars) I can learn from the difficult times (the rain and darkness) I go through. Sometimes I can see tidbits as I’m going through it, but more often I don’t see it until after, when I have time to reflect. That’s okay. It’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to feel only rain and darkness. But it’s also important to remember the light is there. It won’t always be dark. It won’t always be stormy. We can have light and lessons and growth with time.

Looking for Spring

I wrote a poem today. I think I did it, trying to convince myself, but not actually feeling it. I want spring to come. I want light and warmth back. But right now all I can see . . . all I can feel . . . is coldness and darkness.

Looking for Spring

Pairs of sandhill cranes,
flocks of red-winged blackbirds,
signal spring is around the corner.

The freezing days and the long nights
suggest otherwise.

The cold and darkness of winter
clutches me in its claws,
attempting to squeeze the hope out of me.

But I try to take courage in the song of blackbirds,
the sight of cranes,
the belief that the needed warmth and light of spring
will soon be upon us.

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Just a Poem

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Maybe

Winter.
SAD.
Cold, wet, dark.
Siren song of depression
lulling me to sleep,
enticing me deeper into blackness.

I need to prop my eyes open
like Odysseus.

But maybe I don’t want to see
the endless ocean,
relying on nothing but hope
to get me home.
Maybe I want to close my eyes.

Let the dark overtake me.

-Tacy Stine

Hope and No Hope

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I didn’t think I could get any lower. Then I lost my job, and suddenly that pit I was in got a whole lot deeper, a whole lot darker.

 

My job wasn’t much—just a couple hours a day, a few days a week, but it was something. It was enough to help. And it gave me a sense of purpose, a feeling that I was doing my part to contribute to my family’s financial needs. It also worked so perfectly with my schedule, allowing me to be able to pick my son up from half-day kindergarten and be home with him and my daughter when she got out of school. Now it’s gone. And now everything rests on this new venture of mine as an independent sales consultant for this company. It’s a whole lot of pressure and fear. Pressure to make it work. Fear that, not only will I fail, but that I’ll make people dislike me even more. Yet, I have to hope that it will work, that I won’t fail and that people will be understanding that I’m only doing my job—only trying to put food on the table.

Yes, I have some hope. I have to, otherwise I would have given up completely. I still feel very hollow and numb inside, and I still have no hope in other things in my life, but in this one endeavor, I see a very tiny, very faint light far, far in the distance. Maybe it’s enough right now. I guess only time will tell.

Is There a Point?

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Sometimes I wonder if there’s a point in continuing to do this – to do anything, really, I guess. What’s the point of any of it? I try so hard, yet I never seem to be able to move forward in life. This road I’m on is full of speed bumps of disappointment, u-turns of mistakes and crashes of hurt. How do you keep going when you see nothing but fog and darkness ahead?

 

Dark and Light

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Sometimes it feels like the whole world is collapsing in on you, like anything that can go wrong does go wrong. When it rains it pours. And then, sometimes, right when it feels like it can’t get any darker a ray of light breaks through and shines down on you. Then another and another until your world is filled with light again. It’s not that the bad things have gone away, but it’s easier to deal with them because you can see again. I wish I could thank the people who have brought this light back into my life, but some people do kind things without feeling the need to be known or praised. Anonymous friends have blessed my life lately. I thank them for the light and strength they have given me. I hope I can do as they have done for someone, someday, as well.

Darkness Makes Us Grow

A little over nine years ago I moved from a tiny town in Eastern Utah to Phoenix. I was beyond happy to be getting away from what had been a horrible situation where we had been living, but was also incredibly intimidated and a bit terrified to be moving to such a big city. Yet, within weeks, I had fallen in love with the city, the people and the vast, unique beauty of the Sonoran Desert. Some people hate the desert or simply think I’m weird for loving it. Maybe I am weird. Maybe it’s the fact that I could relate to something “different.” Maybe I simply appreciated a landscape that survived despite the odds. Probably it’s all of those reasons.

Blooming cacti in the spring was one of my favorite sights while living in Phoenix. The fact that these prickly, pokey plants could produce such bright, vibrant, beautiful flowers never ceased to amaze me. So when we moved back to Utah, less than two years later, we took a tiny cactus magnet with us as a memento. Okay, so my ex-husband’s mom bought it for our two-year-old daughter, but I was glad to be taking a piece of the desert with us. Unfortunately the magnet got packed with all of our stuff, and despite searching the storage unit we rented, we couldn’t find it.

I was sure the poor, little cactus would be dead after four months of no water or sunlight. I dreaded pulling it out, letting our daughter see, because I knew she would be sad. But a miracle occurred. One day, as we were unpacking, after having bought a house, we found the cactus magnet. Not only was it still alive, it had actually grown!

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I love finding metaphors in life. This one reminds me that darkness doesn’t have to be an end. Sometimes the darkness we face in life is what helps us grow. It’s what makes us stronger, what gives us the ability to appreciate the light when it comes into our lives again. If that little cactus could make it all that time with no light or water to sustain it, I can make it too. It’s not easy. It’s hard, it’s dark, it’s hell. But I can find the light again. And when I do, I will have learned and grown and become stronger because of it.

The Dark Place

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I’ve been in a dark place recently. The last couple of weeks I’ve felt as if I’ve been wandering aimlessly through life with weights attached to my arms and legs—my heart. Nearly everything in my life has been neglected in some way—my house, my kids, my health. At times like this each little task takes on the illusion of being monumental, and when you have several monumental tasks, it becomes too overwhelming to accomplish any of them.

Then, Saturday morning, the fog cleared, and I somehow received a burst of energy, motivation, confidence, determination, strength, and I got to work. I exercised, did yoga, cleaned my house, vacuumed, put the dishes away. And then the darkness settled back in, the weights snapped back on. All I wanted to do was retreat to my bed and spend the rest of the day curled up there, crying. I stood in my kitchen battling those thoughts, and somehow I fought them off. I was still depressed, still in darkness, yet I still managed to finish the dishes, go to the store and even went to a marching band competition. I’d been planning on going to it for several weeks, but when the depression gets as bad as it has been it’s easy to make up excuses to get out of anything.

I don’t know why I was able to keep going this time. There have been many times I have given in, let the mental illness win, gotten back in bed and let life fall to pieces. Sometimes that is just mental illness. But it gives me hope to know that I can fight back and accomplish things even when I’m depressed. I hope it gives others hope as well.