This post on one of my favorite blogs really kicked me in the pants this morning, and gave me a sort of "aha!" moment about my depression.
I have always beat myself up over staying in my abusive marriage for as long as I did. I knew it was bad, I knew I wanted out of it, but I felt paralyzed. I know that the cycle of abuse is largely to blame for that, but it always felt like something more than that to me. Cosmo's post finally made me open my eyes to realize that my depression played a large role in the cycle of abuse for me. I was severely depressed during the last few years of my marriage. My husband's behavior toward me was incomprehensible for me, and my inability to make it stop was deeply disempowering. I felt completely out of control of my life, and the further into depression I sunk, the less able to deal with life I felt. I buried by head in the sand a lot, because I couldn't deal with what was happening to me. It was all connected - the violence and other problems in my marriage fed my depression, which led me to feeling paralyzed and unable to escape, which allowed for more violence which deepened my depression even further, and made me more unable to act. Looking at it that way, it is surprising to me that I was ever able to end it at all.
I honestly don't know how you could go through violence and other severe relationship issues like I did, and not be depressed. But as I was going through it all, I never saw it. Until very recently, I have never acknowledged my battles with depression, starting from when I was a teenager, as battles with depression. I didn't want to accept that was a problem I had. Sometimes life is hard, and my feelings seemed reasonable to me when that was the case. But the fact that my feelings often went beyond reasonable, or lasted much longer than they should, or kept me from acting when I should have, that was something I was not ready to acknowledge. Even now, it is very hard for me to say.
But if I look at my behavior, my feelings, I know it is true. I obsess, I ruminate, I catastrophise (sp?). I rarely feel at ease, I feel uncomfortable in my own skin, I am self-conscious to the point of ridiculousness. I let my feelings of sadness and fear and hopelessness paralyze me from action. I take care of my family and do all those other things I have to do, but I don't take care of myself like I should. I know I should get up early and go to yoga. I know I should eat well, and get enough sleep. I know I should reach out to friends and family for help, or at least some kind words. But I don't. I don't feel like I can. And I just cross my fingers and hope that this bout with depression will lift of its own will, without any help from me.
My ongoing battles with PTSD do not help matters any, because it is basically a disorder of obsessive thoughts and rumination. Your mind and body cannot let go of the traumatic memories, and the fight-or-flight state caused by the trauma. Even when you do not consciously think about the trauma, it intrudes into your thoughts and behaviors, through dreams or other subconscious means if there is no other way in. I have been out of the abuse for almost 4 years now, and yet I still feel the fear and pain so strongly sometimes. I still think about it and it still affects my life, way more than I like to admit.
Accepting that these things are going on with me, I know that I need help. I cannot do this on my own. I feel very disconnected and lonely lately, alone in the depths of my despair. I am not sure where to reach out, but I can see that I need to, one way or another. For now, this is the best way I have.
In San Diego every spring, we have "May Gray" and "June Gloom". In the mornings, it is overcast, the skies gray and cold. Late in the morning, the sun comes out for awhile, but in the late afternoon, the clouds (and sometimes fog) start creeping back in. That is what life feels like to me. When I am depressed, I know eventually I will feel better, but there is always the awareness that the sadness will come creeping back in eventually. It makes the bad times worse, and the good times hard to enjoy.