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Some thoughts on depression.

February 13, 2012

I suck.

Complicit in its agreement, my stomach tightened, pulsed and churned.

It was a random Wednesday night. I lay in bed, staring through the window that returned only darkness. As my depressive, inky thoughts began their downward spiral, they recruited my heart, veins and breath to continue the suffocating, manical dance. My chest banged and echoed with a tympanic drum beat, rousing the dormant anxiety throughout.

Everyone is better than me. God do I suck. What the fuck do I get done in a day? Everyone else gets so much more done–essays written, shelves dusted, time volunteered, promotions accomplished, memoirs completed, situations mitigated, emails read AND responded to. I suck. I don’t give my kids enough and I should be doing more for them and why can’t I even get a meal plan together?


I consider self-flagellation and moody, bad days normal. Everyone feels this way at some point in their life. Sometimes for many long days. Because, of course, sometimes life is rotten. For me, depression picks up the slack where a normal bad day might usually end. I don’t, I can’t, snap out of it. Or, in other instances, my life might be amazingly peachy and depression will step up to slap me around. I think, perhaps, this is the most agonizing aspect of the disease.

Depression renders flat an otherwise full, rich life. Depression sinks its fangs into delights and wonders of delectable moments. Depression renders gratitude null and void. Depression takes a granule of routine self-doubt or recrimination and maneuvers it into a personal anthem–a powerful, damning dogma. This last bit is truly critical to the understanding of depression. When depressed, no amount of logical maneuvering or mental canoodling changes the fact that I am  depressed.

Depression litters normal conversation with secret, buried landmines which await the smallest infraction to detonate.

What did you do today?

These benign comments seem like depression’s co-conspirators, poised to further push me down the continuing spiral of self-loathing. My mind hears something else entirely. My listens through a veil of depression:

She can see that I didn’t do anything of substance today. Everyone can see that I’m not efficient and that I really don’t add anything of substance. They all see me for what I am–a skimmer, coasting from one thing to the next. 

Ultimately, this is how depression works its maniacle machinations on me: it makes me believe in a truth that isn’t, but feels otherwise. The depressed truth is very, very real. These tenets of  my depression gripped me for years and are so powerful that even today, they continue to attempt to dictate. Now, at least, I can quickly recognize the disease and its vaporous inclinations.

That night, when the inky thoughts infiltrated, my knee-jerk response was to wallow, tense and rail against the depression. Why now? Go away. Fuck Off. I did that for awhile and then,

I breathed. And then exhaled.

I pondered.

I gave light to the dark spaces.

I’ve learned from yoga that you can’t tense a muscle while you’re stretching it. I’ve learned that I must relax the muscle to take care of it, to bring it light and oxygen. I believe that my depression is much like that tense, dark muscle. I try to relax into it and give it light. Then, I keep moving. It’s not easy. Many days this proves to be really fucking hard–and I believe, with a burning intensity that I really do suck. But I continue to practice and I get better.


About a year ago, a dear friend, who has never suffered from depression, asked me what it is like to live with depression. When she asked me, I was in a depression and wasn’t able to answer her question with any clarity. Her question is a good one, and one that has echoed in my thought chamber for some time. This post responds to her thoughtful question.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2012 1:09 pm

    Brave and thoughtful. As you know, I relate to much of this. Thank you. xox

  2. February 13, 2012 1:52 pm

    Denise, I had no idea you wrestled with depression. This is such a beautiful depiction of something so crippling. I too have gone through the days you described.

    I loved this especially and will carry this with me: I’ve learned from yoga that you can’t tense a muscle while you’re stretching it.

    So beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this and illuminating my own dark places.

  3. February 13, 2012 2:08 pm

    Thank you for being so brave in telling a story that is, I imagine, not easy to share. xo

  4. February 13, 2012 3:54 pm

    Oh, we are going to have so much to talk about in a few weeks. I feel this way daily. Mostly I think it’s because I suck. And then every so often I am moved to think, “Maybe it’s not really YOU. Maybe it’s depression.” For me, I have to be, like really depressed to remember that I have struggled with depression and that it is not actually foreign to me. But this low-level malaise is likely also a symptom – thank you for opening my eyes to this and perhaps encouraging me to be a bit kinder to myself.

  5. February 13, 2012 4:29 pm

    Denise, these are the most perfect words to describe the place where so many of us spend time. What a gift!

    Thank you.


  6. February 13, 2012 4:36 pm

    “I breathed. And then exhaled.

    I pondered.

    I gave light to the dark spaces.” This is exactly what my breath does for me. Brings the Light. I often forget to breathe. I regularly go without truly exhaling. I’m here to cheer you on. More of it. More, more, more.

    The trees need what your lungs want to get rid of. Feed them and be refreshed.

  7. Marie Dwyer permalink
    February 13, 2012 8:25 pm

    You’re letting some light in.

    I love the yoga metaphor: It’s a practice.

    Keep practicing. Practice!

  8. February 13, 2012 8:38 pm

    Brave and an important honest share. Xo

  9. Gail permalink
    February 13, 2012 8:59 pm

    Very elucidating. When do you think our inner monologues get imprinted? I think about what goes through my head on a day-to-day basis and while it may not result in depression, it is self-limiting and self-defeating. I have tried so hard to replace my inner reproaches with positive mantras, but…damn- old habits are hard to break. Why is it more comfortable to say to myself “I can’t” instead of “You GO, Girl!”? Thanks to your post, my inner journey will continue…with thoughts of being in very good company! 🙂 XXX

  10. February 14, 2012 11:27 pm

    Thank you for your grit. It’s posts like these that make me a little braver about my own darkness.

  11. February 15, 2012 1:08 pm

    These words have so much courage. Thank you. There are so much that resonated with me in this post.

  12. February 16, 2012 12:31 pm

    And perhaps the followup question is how to claw one’s way back.

    A beautiful piece, Denise. I know this world, all too well.

  13. March 10, 2012 5:02 pm

    Denise, thank you. This is a great piece of personal, honest ‘grit’. Keep posting. You help all of us gain insight, understanding, and support!


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