"Why Do You Sleep All the Time? You're Depressed, Not Sick."Casey Mullins
When I decided to write about the two very different kinds of depression I’ve dealt with I thought I could summarize them into one neat and tidy post that wouldn’t require a snack and bathroom break to read. After writing about the first type I’ve experienced, what I call “Brain-Won’t-Shut-Up-Depression” I realized I can’t really put the two together as they are both so extremely different in how they affect me and how they are managed. The second kind of depression I deal with now is “Sleep-all-the-time-I-feel-nothing-for-anything-depression.” For the sake of this post, we’ll call it apathetic depression.
If you were to ask me which one I would prefer to battle for the rest of my life, it would be apathetic depression. The other kind makes me shouty, angry and mean. If you’ve ever watched Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, it’s a pretty accurate description of the two types of depression I’ve dealt with (although I hope to never damage Addie as badly). While it’s still not my favorite, I have found a way to manage it so things don’t get too out of hand in the day-to-day life of my family.
Apathetic depression hurts because you don’t feel anything for anyone or anything. I often feel as though I have someone or something quite large sitting on my chest. I lose my appetite, my desire to use words and most of all my desire to do anything I know I love. The best way to pass time when you don’t love anyone or anything? Sleep. Sleep all the time. Sleep whenever possible. Sleep doesn’t hurt, it makes time go by faster and it is peacefully quiet. Unlike the other kind of depression, apathetic depression is almost too quiet, like you’re standing in a huge, cold, empty warehouse with dim lighting, asking “Can anybody hear me?”
I once compared this type of depression to being stuck inside Jell-O. You can see the real world through the gelatin, but it is distorted and far away. It would also take a grand amount of effort to make it through the Jell-O to the other side. So you stay complacent in the Jell-O, watching life pass by in blurry blobs until you find a little spoon of hope and start working your way out, spoonful by spoonful.
With this type of depression still being so real to me, it’s harder to talk about it — because I haven’t found a solution to it other than time. I also haven’t been able to find triggers, it’s always there sitting just under the surface of my happiness and I never know when it will break its way through. With proper medication and doing my best to take care of myself when I am well, episodes are far less frequent and when they do happen they don’t last nearly as long. I continue to avoid violent media and stay open and honest with my friends and family about how I’m feeling.
About a year ago, at the suggestion of my doctor, I doubled the medication I have been on for a long time in an effort to control anxiety — something I’ve dealt with since 2009 (also something I don’t like AT ALL.) While doubling up on my medication helped to control the anxiety without adding any additional medications, I feel as though it has taken away some of my ability to feel that normal range of human emotions I enjoy when I am well. Boys may not understand it, maybe all girls don’t either — but sometimes you just need a good cathartic cry. The type that leaves you with itchy eyes and cry headache the next day. I haven’t been able to have one of those in a really long time, and I feel like all of those emotions are getting stuffed down inside and that they may come bursting out one day at the worst possible moment. It sounds stupid, but I miss being able to have a good cry.
Of course it terrifies me what effects my mental illness will have on my kids. Even worse, if they too will battle the same demons I’ve dealt with and will deal with for the rest of my life. I’ve found a way to explain things to Addie that make enough sense to her that she knows this isn’t a cold or something that can be fixed just by smiling and eating a cookie. I have an amazing husband who steps in when I can’t even stand up to help keep things running and me moving towards getting better.
I sleep because sleep doesn’t hurt, and whenever I wake up I try to move a little further away from where I was at before I laid down. Sometimes it only takes a few days, often times it takes several weeks, but sometimes it can drag on for months. What I do know now that I’ve battled depression for more than half my life is that it is worth it to make it out to the other side, little things are so much better when you have big ugly things to compare them to.
You can read more about my journey with depression on my own blog, here.