Dealing with Depression: Learning to Unplug
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes - even you.” -Anne Lamott
I read this the other day, and it resonated with me on so many levels. The past few months have been hard for many reasons. I haven’t felt like myself, and I’ve been down and depressed. One of the more difficult aspects of having MS for me is the emotional rollercoaster that it brings with it. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression most of my life. It’s something you’ll see in quite a few of my articles, and if you’ve kept up with my journey then you know I recently got off of my medication. So, right now I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. Depression is sneaking in, and it wants to stay, but I won’t let it. I know it’s something that is brought up often, but it’s a big thing that is misunderstood, so I feel the need to continue talking about it.
Depression looks different on everyone
I feel like when people hear depression, they immediately think of someone who is so far lost they can’t come back. Someone who hates life and is a raging pessimist. However, depression looks different on everyone. Depression can be that girl on the street smiling and laughing, and it can be that waiter you have happily serving you your food. It can be that mom who looks like she has it all together, and it can be a millionaire businessman who seems like he has nothing to lose. People need to know that just because they don’t fit the stereotypical definition of depressed that it doesn’t mean your depression and sadness is any less real. People need to know they are not alone in their emotional turmoil. Depression is ugly, and it is real, and combining that with MS is a battle. But, it’s not unbeatable.
Depression resurfaces without warning
I don’t think when people look at me they see someone that is depressed. I have a beautiful life, and I’m usually a very happy person. But again, depression has always been there. It’s been buried quite a few times, so it’s not as noticeable, but it's there, and it resurfaces without warning. There will be long lengths of time where I go without noticing it. I’ll feel great, and then boom here it comes again knocking me down. It’s a wrecking ball, coming to try and destroy the emotional stability and the true joy that I’ve worked so hard to find.
When I don't react the way I wish I would
I get down because I can’t control how I’m feeling. Emotionally, I am a mess. I get discouraged because I can’t control my body. Physically, I’m a mess too. My big thing has always been, I can’t control the cards I’ve been given, but I can control how I react to them. However, I’m human, and I have many days where I don’t react the way I wish I would. Most days I’m strong enough to brush it off, but other days the weight of it all is too much. It’s suffocating. It makes me frustrated and makes everything around me feel complicated and confusing. And it's these days that I begin feeling the weight of it all come down, that I know its time to unplug.
I am strong enough
I get stressed easily, its just how I am. So without my medication, stress is large and in charge. You see, I’ve realized that my medication is a significant tool in helping me see things rationally and helping me see things in a positive light. Since being off of my medication, everything has this heavy dark fog around it, and it skews my outlook. So when I hit this point, I have to take a break. I have to have a few days to make sure I see clearly again. I’ve learned over many years that this is what works for me. It is what helps me dig back out of the trenches of depression. I actually just had a few of my unplugged days this past weekend. I knew I needed to unplug and recharge. I needed a few days to remind myself what all I’ve been through, what all I’ve overcome and that darn it, I’m strong enough to do it all again.
I am building strength
I was listening to a podcast the other day by Rachel Hollis. If you haven’t ever listened to her podcasts or read her book “Girl, Wash Your Face,” I highly recommend it. Her enthusiasm and positivity were exactly what I needed to help get through my funk. One of the things she said was, “The difficult seasons we walk through are how we learn to build up strength and face any situation.” Wow. This difficult season I’m going through right now isn’t for nothing. It’s hard, and it hurts but each time I go through these seasons I’m building strength to help get me through the next one. My body and my mind will work again. I will feel normal again. I will get through this.
We are not alone
And honestly, so will you. Depression will probably never be something I fully conquer. I will continue to struggle with it for the rest of my life. I will keep riding that roller coaster, but I’ve learned how to make myself work again. I’ve learned when my body and mind need to unplug and when I need a few days to get back to good. I hope, my friends, that you can find those things for yourself too. Take a walk, read a book, watch a movie, eat your favorite food, take a nap. Breathe. Depression makes us feel vulnerable and alone. MS makes us feel that way as well. But, we’re not alone. There are thousands of us going through this. Together we are an army of warriors. We may have our moments, but don’t you dare for a second think your life is hopeless or that you won’t be able to climb out of the pit this time. YOU CAN. Take the time to unplug, and you will work again. You’ve got this.
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