*Content Warning: This piece contains a references to abuse, which may be triggering to some.*
Today is a dark day.
Some days are a little cloudy, but fairly “normal”. However, when it gets bad, responding to a text message feels like it takes more energy than when I ran a half marathon. It is actually uncomfortable when I’m out of a depressive phase because I’m just waiting for the downward spiral to come again. Sometimes it’s gradual; other times one event will completely derail me. It’s sad to be scared and guarded about being happy and stable.
Depression has made me feel like I’m not worthy of a normal relationship. I feel guilty that my significant other has to be exposed to my depression; therefore, I often end up with abusive, manipulative, mean men. It feels helpless that I know every single day will be a little bit darker for me than for most. I am always used by men; especially my finances. I can’t say no even when I am struggling financially because I don’t feel like I have the right to say no. I stayed in an abusive marriage for 8 years. I dated an abusive man before that. Now I’m dating men who tell me I’m stupid as f*ck. Depression makes me lose all self-esteem and I start believing the things I’m told or called.
I’m smarter than that.
With depression, you’re always swimming. You never get a break. Sometimes, the water is smooth. Other days, the water is a little rough. Other days, there’s a no sail advisory, but you still have to function.
Once depression has set in, it’s a snow-ball effect. Why did I treat that person like that 10 years ago? I’m so sorry, but I don’t deserve their forgiveness. Why didn’t I initially make it into the advanced program in kindergarten? Why do all my relationships fail? How does everyone else hold it all together? Do my kids think I’m a failure? Why did I let myself become overweight? Am I really smart enough to get my doctorate? My house is never clean enough. It’s my fault that I am always with awful men; I must deserve it.
Life doesn’t stop for anyone. I have general anxiety, social anxiety, PTSD and depression. I have literally driven to a place 30 minutes away to talk to someone in person instead of making a phone call because phone calls cause me extreme anxiety. Asking me to order a pizza is like asking me to climb Mt Everest. I know that’s difficult to understand, and I wish it wasn’t my reality. But it’s important to demonstrate what depression looks like. There’s this constant feeling of failure and disappointment because I don’t want to feel suicidal. I don’t want to have a panic attack on the way to work. I don’t want to feel like every fight is my fault because I’m depressed and, “did I take my meds?”
Some days I just feel a little down. Other days it feels like extra weight on my shoulders. But there are literal days where getting out of bed is difficult. Taking a shower is difficult. Going to work and focusing is challenging. Cooking is an Olympic sport. Depression is considered a disability. And it should be.
There is a positive to this, though. You know that phone call that causes me extreme anxiety? I’m enrolled in classes for my doctorate where I have to stand in class and give presentations. Why? Because I am going to fight my demons. I will not let them win and dictate my life. But I will be honest and admit that I have them.
Those men who have been so awful to me? I’m learning to set boundaries and learning to walk away once the initial mistreatment begins. To be honest, I feel like there’s some deep hurt in someone who can treat another human being like that and that draws me in. I have been hurting most of my life; I never want anyone else to feel that type of pain.
However, I need to learn that my empathy does not permit their abuse.
That needs to be stated again:
MY EMPATHY DOES NOT PERMIT THEIR ABUSE
I wasn’t always sad. Years of mental torment and psychological abuse literally changed the way I think and feel.
Maybe I won’t always be sad; once I mend.
Tomorrow will be better. But today? I’m just okay.