How Depression Ruined My Child’s Birthday

It was my son’s 15th birthday on Saturday. He originally had plans to go to the arcades with his brand new (first) girlfriend, but her parents forbade her going at the last moment, so he was understandably salty about the whole thing. He hadn’t planned on a party or event with any other friends, so it was pretty much him and us. And my depression.

Before we even get started on what happened on Saturday specifically, I should point out that I hadn’t exactly set myself up for success in the first place. Due to an unplanned bout of being unmedicated (I just … didn’t take them, I guess), I was still recovering from a deep and strange depression in the weeks leading up to his birthday, and had more or less neglected to even consider getting him any gifts.

Thankfully my wife made up for this by getting him a few t-shirts and knick-knacks, but I told him I would take him to the movies and a comic book store instead, to try and take his mind off things.

Saturday morning actually went smoothly. My wife and I went shopping before our son got up, picked up some nice breakfast things, and woke him up around 11:00 AM with presents. Then, while he was watching Game of Thrones, my wife and I worked together in the kitchen to make meatballs – the first part of a planned lasagna dinner to celebrate.

So far, so good.

In the afternoon I took him to see Captain Marvel, which was (in my opinion) really quite good. I enjoyed the movie and the time spent with him, and we talked about Marvel and comics and movies endlessly on the way home.

Once home, I was getting ready to finish off prep for the lasagna when our cat jumped up on my wife’s chair while she was sitting in it. In itself no big deal, but my wife is allergic to the cat and asked for a paper towel wet with soap just to wipe her hands afterwards.

Somewhere along the line, I failed to hear her say that she already had a paper towel, and just needed it wet. When she asked why I got her a new one, she called me on not listening.

I said she didn’t say it. (I mean, I genuinely had no recollection of her saying anything about it.)

I guess this must have triggered her, because she said, “Fuck you.”

I don’t know how genuinely angry she was, but something in it flashed a cloud over my mind, and I retorted with the same and stormed upstairs to the bed in the loft.

I figured I would settle down, cool off, and come down a few minutes later to apologize and finish dinner. Instead, something took over and, once in that bed, I found I simply could not get out of it. First I made excuses – I’m still angry, I need to calm down. Then I gave myself deadlines – I’ll get up by 5:30 PM … I’ll get up by 6:00 PM. And then … I just gave up.

Instead of helping my son celebrate a birthday that already hadn’t gone well, I spent the remainder of the night comatose in bed, drifting in and out of sleep and wondering what my son did to deserve such a pathetic wreck of a father. I vaguely heard the noises, caught the drifting smells, as my son and wife cooked, ate, and cleaned up after a very lonely and miserable dinner.

They didn’t even have the cake.

Depression is a strange beast. It can strike when you least expect it, and its power over you is somehow stronger than you ever anticipate, even when you know its bite intimately. Once I was in that bed, I wasn’t getting back out of it. It was as simple as that. No amount of guilt, persuasion or logic was going to make a difference.

I don’t even really know why it happened. I’ve been medicated for almost a month now, and the depression and mood swings should have been stabilized. It was unexpected, and unreasonable; totally out of the blue.

I tried to make it up to him on Sunday – took him out, made breakfast, etc. – but it didn’t change the acrid taste in my mouth. I let him down, on the one day he needed support the most. Nothing else matters.

There are times when I feel like a true failure as a person. Once upon a time, in another life, someone once referred to me as their ‘rock’. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am inherently unreliable. Unpredictable. Unintentional, and emotionally unfaithful. I am no one’s rock. I am a passing fancy on the wind, here today and gone tomorrow. I am as ephemeral as a wave, crashing against a rock at sea.

And as a passing breeze, I’ll always be around; what is absent one day will return eventually. But how, and when … that’s anyone’s guess.

I may not be a good person, but I’m all I’ve got – depression and all.

You’re Not the Only One (And That’s a Good Thing)

Don’t you think that you need somebody?
Don’t you think that you need someone?
Everybody needs somebody
You’re not the only one

Guns N’ Roses – November Rain

Loneliness – the dreadful, gnawing sense of abandonment and despair that comes from knowing that no one in the world suffers as you do – can be devastating. Worse still, you often feel as though you deserve it, because you’re somehow less than other people – less capable, less valid, less … human.

I used to feel this way a lot. I still do, sometimes, although as I’ve gotten older and weathered the storms of depression I’ve learned that even despair passes with time, and that even the loneliest among us aren’t really alone. It doesn’t change the feeling itself – in the moment, when the black closes in around you, you know beyond any doubt that you are utterly, completely alone.

It isn’t true, though. Not really.

Humans, by nature, need companionship. We crave it. We want it with every fiber of our being, and yet … sometimes we reject it. Sometimes, even when a friend comes knocking, we fail to answer the door. When a hand reaches out in the dark, we see it – and turn the other way.

Many of us … struggle with feeling valid. [But] it’s possible to be wrong.

I used to wonder about this. I used to think that loneliness could be a kind of strength, a measure of how deep my depression ran. That, somehow, being alone meant I was validated in my despair, that it was … okay, I guess, to feel so miserable. And I would see overtures from friends and family, and I would actively push them away, driving them off like rats with a stick.

I used to wonder why I was like this. Why on earth did I reject others’ attempts to help me? Why did I want to be alone?

The answer, I believe, lies in the belief of self-worth. Many of us, especially here on this blog, struggle with feeling valid, with believing that we’re worth something. Something deep inside triggers us into feeling that, no matter what, we don’t deserve the love of friends, family, colleagues … that, simply put, we aren’t worth the effort.

I know this feeling all too well. It once was bad enough that I remember thinking that I was punishing the world simply by being alive – that the air I was breathing would be better suited to someone else. I wanted to die, not only because of the depth of my misery, but because it somehow felt that it would be fairer to those around me to just not have to worry about me anymore.

But here’s what I’ve learned over the years. What you feel doesn’t change how others feel. Your beliefs don’t affect those of the people around you. And it’s possible to be wrong.

You see, from the moment you’re born to the moment you die, there are people who care about you. And the don’t care because they must – they care because they want to. There are, of course, varying levels of care, based on the feelings of sadness and hurt when you suffer, but there are so many, many more people in the world that care about you than you know.

Because every single word you utter, every sentence you type, every glance you give, affects the people you know – and sometimes the people you don’t. I don’t know you – we’ve never met – but I care. James here at The Bipolar Writer cares – for crying out loud, he’s even offered his phone number publicly! And believe me that the people who do know you care even more.

I attended a funeral last year for a friend of mine. If I’m honest (I hope he forgives me), he was no one special. He didn’t write books; he didn’t make movies. He wasn’t famous. Sometimes he was depressed; sometimes he didn’t want to carry on, especially towards the end. But he did; he powered through his cancer until the bitter end, because he wasn’t alone. And nowhere was this more evident than at the outpouring of love at his funeral. Yes, there were tears – but more than that, there were laughs, and good memories, and a sense of companionship between the rest of us who live: brought together by one person.

So what I’m trying to say here is simple: you’re not the only one to suffer. And you aren’t alone in your suffering. Every one of us here at The Bipolar Writer has, in one fashion or another, been in your shoes; we know what it’s like. We care. So do many. And the community James has built here should help you understand this simple idea:

You aren’t alone.

Falling Back Into Depression

A month ago I wrote about how I wasn’t feeling depressed, that I was able to feel happy and be productive (check it out here). It was really great while it lasted but I have started falling back down into the hole of depression.

It hit me yesterday evening, just tripping me up. I began to lose control over my emotions  during a stupid little thing with my boyfriend. I began to cry, something I often do when I feel out of control and when I feel like I have done something wrong. I cried even though he tried to tell me everything was fine but that voice in my head told me otherwise.

I woke up this morning figuring yesterday was just a fluke, that everything would be better today. I was very much wrong. My brain kept conjuring up feelings of guilt and telling me that my boyfriend doesn’t love me anymore because I am the way I am. I began sobbing, shouting into my bed that everything is all my fault. That it is my fault he is unhappy and that I am ruining my relationship even though this isn’t true. We have been together for nearly 2 years and are planning to live together in 2019.

In that fit of sobbing I knew my brain felt weird. That something wasn’t quite right, something was off. I felt depression grabbing me, dragging me back down into the imaginary hole where it lives. I’m back to where I was a few months ago. Feeling empty, sad, lazy and that I am not good enough for anyone or anything.

It is such a stark contrast from where I was yesterday afternoon. Depression gives zero f***s about when it wants to punch you in my stomach and drag you back to where you were trying to escape.

I feel disappointed in myself to be back in this depressive state. It feels unfair that I have to return to this state of being after being truly happy for over a month.

The Long Road to Betterment

As human beings, regardless of our backgrounds, we’ve become conditioned to evaluate our success in life based on the monetary value of our material possessions. The impact of this trending train of thought has become detrimental to our society, and is especially toxic for those of us who already struggle to find our sense of selves, our true value.

This shift in humanity, in my opinion, grew exponentially with the rise of the technological era. While it’s existed within us for several generations, it’s much more prominent in the last few. And while recently there has been a small faction bringing minimalist living to light, currently more than ever we have become obsessed with the idea of owning the best and newest things.

This has been a difficult post to write because of my own current struggles on the topic. Where is the line between valuing possessions over what really matters, and yearning for a sense of security you’ve never known? There’s obviously financial security in the way of assets, and then there’s having a stable life. Who’s to say when we’ve taken it too far, and how do we separate the wants from the true needs?

I was raised as a welfare baby, my mom on social security, section 8, food stamps, and I’ve had government provided health insurance for my entire life. My mom still survives on the programs, and now I’m raising my daughter on food stamps and free health care as well. It’s not a choice, because while my husband works, it’s not enough, and I can’t bring in enough money with my disabilities to make the pain they’d cause worth the while.

I’m sure my mother wasn’t proud to need all that assistance to raise me, and I’m certainly not proud either. We recently began trying to apply for home loans, as we’ve both lived under mostly slum lords for our entire lives and we want better for our daughter. Long and painfully disappointing story short, we got denied this week and it broke me.

This switch has gone off inside of me, making me feel guilt, inferiority, and judgment towards myself. I swore I’d never raise my child on welfare, but this was before I knew of my physical restraints. Despite my lack on control in the matter, there’s a certain self resentment that comes with that, a sense of worthlessness. I thought I’d found the perfect home for us, actually allowed myself to get excited for once, and now someone else’s family will fill the home.

It’s been an incredibly trying week, with tensions always escalating and tensions always rising due to our current crappy living situation, and I haven’t felt this defeated in a really long time. Especially for those of us with mental illness, stability is incredibly imperative to our success, and it’s my firm belief that if I can finally achieve stability, maybe I can finally begin my journey to betterment.

What I thought was one step closer turned out to be two steps back, but I must still press on. I have to believe that there’s more left in life for me than just the current chapter, that the book will have at least a relatively halpy ending. Here’s to everyone else who’s had a disappointing week or felt broken by something outside of your control. Life gave us lemons, so I guess we’re making lemonade, no matter how sweet or sour it tastes.

Retrospective

There are times I find that it’s hard for me to accept how things have turned out in life, being 27 and unable to work due to chronic illnesses such as scoliosis and rheumatoid arthritis, to keep it short, has had a huge impact on who I am as a person. This definitely isn’t the life I envisioned for myself, and sometimes, like most, I feel a little sorry for myself. Before my disabilities took hold, before my daughter, my husband and I were in a relatively successful local band, and before becoming a mother, music was the only thing in life that I always knew was meant to be.

Once you’ve been within reach of your dreams and gotten a taste of what that feels like, it’s incredibly difficult when lost. At one point, I actually allowed myself to believe that all my wildest dreams could come true, that I would get every little thing I deserved for putting everything I have into being the best person that I can be. Once those thoughts take hold, everything else goes unnoticed, including the first signs that what you thought was wild success, may in fact turn into a complete and utter failure of a situation.

It took years for me to get the courage to perform on stage as a lead singer, I mean after all, my only experience had been singing in choir, and singing in the car and shower. But once I let myself show the world my talent, I never wanted it to stop – I wanted to show everyone, not just those who doubted me or worked against me, but to show people who struggle to find the self-esteem and strength to follow their dreams that it could be done, by a nobody nonetheless.

While the band has been dead for a few years now, I still haven’t finished grieving, and while I haven’t completely given up on the dream, the more time passes, it becomes increasingly difficult to manifest any sort of true motivation to pursue it anymore. As sad as that is, it’s a product of my ever persistent lack of confidence, despite the fact that I proved to myself that I’m definitely not lacking the talent to make it happen. Instead, I hate my body and pity myself and find it hard to open up about it, but it’s not something that anyone I know can truly understand.

I never knew until recently just how detrimental a role physical pain can play on your mental state, but it has eaten away so much from who I am, who I know I’m meant to be, and everything I wanted to accomplish in my life, that I completely resent myself and feel weakened not only physically, but spiritually as well. To some people, hobbies are silly and insignificant, and while music has always been so much more than that, I’ve got to allow this transition to take place and find some way to feed my creativity without relishing in the fact that I’ll may not ever be able to share it with the world in the way I always dreamed.

I’m not giving up, but it’s time to switch gears.