(Kind of a part two of the post on depression I wrote a few days ago…)
I was kind of wondering when, exactly, this whole long-term depression thing started. Because I was fine-ish, and then I wasn’t.
I have been doing a TON of research on depression and all the different aspects of it, as well as trauma (this is more related to stuff I’m holding on from childhood related to medical experiences and some experiences in elementary and high school) and something that comes up is with depression, even if you have a general “working relationship” with depression your whole life, with a lot of people, there is one significant event in life that triggers a deeper depression.
Usually it’s grief.
When I found that out, I knew that the trigger for this particular situation with depression was losing Delilah. I’m still not over it. It’s not just the grief- that has eased substantially- it was just that it felt like some weird bottom dropped out and I was suddenly dealing with much deeper stuff than I ever had before.
Something in me changed deeply in the weeks after she passed. I’ve lost pets before- it’s kind of part of the whole beautiful privilege of sharing your life with them- you help them on their way out. It’s incredibly hard for me, because I do consider them in every deep sense of the word family, but this was different. It was like it opened up some sort of chasm in me.
But I think it’s more about the events that happened after she passed, and my inability to get any space and recover from any of them.
A month or so after Delilah passed, Tom’s mother passed away unexpectedly. That definitely stopped us in our tracks.
I kept up to my routines, my self-care throughout those things. We all did. But I kept feeling like life had changed in some deep way, I couldn’t put my finger on. I just felt like I was treading water and waiting for things to stabilize again.
And it wasn’t as if the months following didn’t provide happiness- we adopted Milo the kitten, who has brought so much joy and LOVE into our lives (OMG, that cat… I LOOOOOOVE him) and the fall after Delilah/Tom’s mom passed I started painting in acrylics for the first time since high school, and that was a HUGE thing for me, and still is. Painting is such a tremendous passion. It unlocked something deep inside me that feels like a song.
So I started to tiptoe back into life… hoping for things to stabilize.
But then an old surgical screw from a foot reconstruction I had ~20 years ago started to work its way out of my foot. It was like a little time bomb for me, because I have been through this before and medical stuff, especially stuff having to with hardware and surgeries and down time (I HATE having to be off my feet, in bed, etc. I spent so much time doing that as a kid that it feels like the this terrible, horrifying imprisonment.)
That was stressful, and eventually led to surgery. Because the screw had been tearing up my foot from the *inside*, there was some talk that there might be a bone infection, or that it might be good to do some precautionary treatments “just in case”. That was very traumatic for me because when I was 18 I had a bone infection and out of all the really difficult and painful health stuff I have been through (including getting a pin the width of a pencil pulled from my foot while I was awake with no pain medication when I was 12) the bone infection was at the top of that list. So the idea of even having to do any of that- weeks of IV antibiotics through a central line, off my feet in bed, constant monitoring, possible extra surgeries- it really sent me reeling. It took several weeks for the tests to come back definitely saying I was in the clear, but that just was a very “holy shit” kind of thing for months, and it took me about a year before I could breathe easy that there wasn’t some infection lurking inside my foot ready to just explode.
And I also lost the feeling of safety I had with my health- I really thought if I did all the preventative stuff that I do, I could stave off infection and having to need surgery, etc. That went out the window. I realized that it was all up in the air, and I don’t like that. Living your entire fucking life with this sense that your body could just go haywire at any time is very very difficult. I’m tired of being a “trooper” and not talking about that. It’s incredibly exhausting, it takes up a lot of anxiety and energy. And I consider myself in a fairly manageable situation, health-wise.
People with chronic illness don’t get enough credit- I’m not even talking about me, I’m talking about people who basically live in constant pain, people who battle to breathe or to function or to make vital systems in their body work. People who fight to stay alive. It’s ironic because in Buddhism there’s this theory that if your karma is bad, you get born into a bad health situation. But that’s bullshit (sorry, fellow Buddhists) because I really think people with chronic illness are fucking superheroes and are made of superhuman stuff. I don’t know how I feel about reincarnation, but if there’s such a thing, the people who wind up coming back to life in a body with a chronic illness must be specifically chosen for the task because they’ve proved themselves super responsible and tough in other lives. It’s not a reward or anything, but you have to made of certain material to struggle with your health your entire life. I mean, your body is your house, it’s the place in which you exist. To have that very “home” be a battleground is not for the weak.
After that, there was the election.
I can tell this is going to be long, so I’ll continue it next post. I know I need to stop apologizing for all this, but I feel kinda bad. Some of you guys have stuck around for years with me, and all of this dumping might be getting old, and I apologize. I just kind of need to do this, so if you can tolerate it and you’re still here- thank you. I love you- and I don’t mean that in an emoji kind of way.