Haven’t we all had that stop the world; I want to get off moment? For some it lasts longer than a moment. It seems as if the sun stops shining and the world lacks color. Everything is gray.
I know I’ve had those days or even weeks when I live in my pajamas and my big excitement is inviting over my two favorite guys, Ben and Jerry. My other favorite guy, Barry Manilow is there too because he gets it. Only Barry can understand why at 44 I’m still not over some slight from when I was 10 and he sings to me as I sit and feel like the biggest loser and dwell on every bad moment of my life. Maybe that’s pushing it, but it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. You can laugh, but you have your own version of the pity party.
What happens though when the pity party isn’t enough? What happens when you look in the mirror one day and the fact that you forgot what a hairbrush looks like isn’t enough to snap you out of it? What happens when the thought of pulling on a pair of jeans and re-entering the world seems the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest?
I’m not a person who finds statistics very helpful. It doesn’t matter to me if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the number of people suffering from depression at 1 out of 10 or 26 percent. The numbers mean nothing to me and I don’t think they mean anything to a person who can’t seem to shake off the blues.
I say that because I’ve been that person and in that period I didn’t care how many other people felt as low as I felt. I only cared about me, me, and me, and how ridiculously low and sad I felt. The starving kids in Africa and the victims of whatever latest natural catastrophe had nothing on me. At least, sadly, that’s what it felt like while in that state of depression. It’s ridiculously efficient in debilitating a person.
Without giving all of the graphic and boring details of my experience with depression I will tell you this. I was extremely lucky to have had doctors who saw the signs. While struggling to diagnose some medical issues I was experiencing, my doctors paid attention to the other things like weight gain and personal grooming.
My doctor noticed that the woman who started out in jeans and make up was now looking pretty gruesome and didn’t seem to care. The sweats became pajama bottoms and probably the day that I threw a sweatshirt over a stained t-shirt was the day he decided my pity party was turning into something else. He asked the right questions in a non-judgmental way. It was enough to know my symptoms were not all in my head.
I was also lucky in my friendships. There was one friend in particular who thought nothing of walking into my house at 8 am every morning. The fact that I seemed to need a nap after only being up for an hour or two hadn’t seemed like much of a problem to me. In fact, I was sure that the exhaustion that sent me back under covers every day had more to do with my new medical diagnosis than depression. Thankfully I had a friend who walked in, walked up my stairs, and pulled my covers off. She didn’t make me put on make-up, but she did get me out of the house and back into the world. We all need friends like that.
The road is long and definitely not easy. I wish I could tell you that I’m back in my jeans and that the effects of too much Ben and Jerry’s has been removed from my hips and other body parts but I’m not quite there yet. Yoga pants that aren’t actually worn for yoga have replaced pajamas though and I’m back in school. At 44, I am a college Junior and the color has come back into my world. The sun looks like a giant egg yolk opening in a vivid blue sky.
We all have our moments and for some it lasts longer than for others. Some can shake it off while others could use the aid of medication and someone to talk to. Depression isn’t a sign of weakness. This is a big world and we’re all in it together. If someone’s world seems as if it lacks color, be a friend. Be an ear. If you feel you have sympyoms of depression, contact a mental health professional. Maybe it won’t be enough. But it’s a start. Sometimes we just need to know that we aren’t alone, no matter how alone we may feel.