Me: I’m having a nervous breakdown.
Friend: I’ll bring the wine.
I’m not sure which wine pairs best with a nervous breakdown, but at this point I don’t really care, because wine. That seems like a sentence fragment but it’s not. “Because wine” is a full sentence and is also an answer to just about anything you could ever ask. “Why should I leave my house?” “Why am I crying at an insurance commercial?” “Why do my cats all have mustaches drawn on them?” BECAUSE WINE.
In fact…why does this post exist? Because wine.
And also because I’ve been fighting through a bitch of a wave of depression for the last several weeks and I’ve been slogging through the days and going through the motions and waiting for this shit to finally break. I’ve been forcing myself to leave the house as much as I can and congratulating myself for showering and moving and breathing, but it’s still hard as hell. I’m not alone. In the last few weeks I’ve gotten tons of comments and emails and tweets from people all feeling equally helpless. And that sucks. It sucks for them, and it sucks for me and it sucks for every person out there who can’t just fix us. There is, however, one bright point about getting those messages from others sailing their own rough waters…I can – without doubt– tell them that depression is lying to them and that things will get better. And then I have to admit that the same thing applies to me…even though at the time I’m fairly sure my emotions are dead forever.
And then, just as quickly as it came, it starts to lift. Yesterday I felt human again for almost two hours. It’s amazing how much you’re missing in a depressive state until you start to come out on the other side. It’s like breathing again after being underwater for far too long. The depression is back again now but I had an hour this morning when I was me again. And a few minutes ago I called a friend to come over to visit. That sounds like a stupid, small thing, but it’s not. It’s big. It’s huge.
When I’m in a depression I want to write about it, but I usually can’t. I’m too overwhelmed and paralyzed and exhausted. I end up writing 100 angsty drafts that never see daylight and I convince myself that no one cares. It’s not true. People care. They care about me and they care about you. If you’re feeling alone, you aren’t. Millions of people struggle with suicide and depression and mental illness. We keep taking pills. We keep talking to shrinks. We keep each other alive. We remind ourselves that depression lies. We keep breathing. And eventually the clouds metaphorically part and – as if by magic – we get a blast of normalcy and remember how amazingly wonderful it can be to feel life instead of suffer from it.
Yesterday I started feeling life again, and it felt wonderful. And I’m writing this to remind myself that it does pass, and that the miasma surrounding you now won’t always cling to you. It will pass for me and it will pass for you.
Keep breathing. Keep living. You are worth it.
PS. This seems unrelated and maybe it is but I’m including it anyway because wine. A few years ago my blog posts were peppered with humorous stories about my severe rheumatoid arthritis. I’d be bedridden for weeks at a time. I was in and out of hospitals. I spent most vacations in a wheelchair. It took many years and lots of different meds and doctors before they finally found the particular drug that cured my symptoms. It isn’t perfect and it’s crazy expensive and involves a lot of injections and constant work, but (knock on wood) I haven’t been in a wheelchair in over a year. I had started to think that my whole life would just be random weeks of pain and that I’d end up hobbled and miserable, but then we found that one drug that worked for me. And if there’s a drug out there that could save me physically then I have to believe that one day there will be one that could save me mentally.
I’m holding out for that miracle. Stay here and keep me company.
PPS. If you’ve found something that works for you, feel free to share it. For me, it’s music. This song has been on replay for me all week and it helps. Maybe it’ll help you too.