brain with a cord attached unplugged from the wall

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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (13)
  • Carol
    4 months ago

    Calie –

    I just can’t get out of this constant depression. I’ve got a couple of anti-anxiety medications that I take, but unfortunately they really don’t work. I guess I spend too much time thinking of myself and how I am living a life that I didn’t expect to have at all. There are a few distractions, but those don’t last and then I’m back in a funk again.

  • chong61
    5 months ago

    You are right, depression does look different on everyone. When I just get up, sit in my chair all day, can’t force myself to do anything, then I know I am really depressed. Thank you for your words, I know it is depression and not just tiredness.

    Then I get more depressed because I think I should be up and doing things. I have always kept a meticulous home, now I handle it by telling my kids and family that I am a hoarder of dust and cob webs. To them it is funny, to me it is just another way of coping and grieving for the things I can no longer do. I get down to dust and then it is a struggle to get back up. Thus I draw it back into myself and try and not show to the world.

    As you can tell, today is one of those do nothing days. I will get back into my chair, get my Pomeranian (crying buddy) in my lap and we will face tomorrow hopefully with some energy.

  • thenewme
    5 months ago

    Ive had days that I just sit can’t seem to make myself do anything. I’ve learned just to accept these days as a wind down. It generally passes in 2 to 3 days

  • Carolmdw
    5 months ago

    I woke up crying, feeling so sad. I do this more often than not. It takes my animals’ attention to get up and tend to them. I started noticing the sun outside, my joy in watching animals eat the food I provided, and my coffee tasting not so bad. One thing led to another, and I will get through each moment looking for a reason to keep moving today. One day at a time….

  • Smalls15
    5 months ago

    All my life I’ve been known as the smiling one, always. Well next month is 21 years since MS diagnosis. So what am I doing? Nothing! Walking, thinking everything slower. Depression is trying to become a best friend. But as you say, I’ve got that shield! I know, it will get better!

  • chong61
    5 months ago

    Callie,
    Your posting today is just what I needed. I just came from the eye docs office. I just was told I have glaucoma. All the way home, my son driving, me silently sitting there thinking I can’t do this anymore. I just don’t have the strength or the will. It is too much. Then I read your post and read where you said “don’t you dare think your life is worthless” and it really made me realize I was going into my room of hurt. Thank you so much for putting me back in the army of the warriors and striving for more.

  • ShelbyComito moderator
    5 months ago

    I’m so glad to hear that Callie’s article helped give you strength, @chong61. Your voice is so important – thank you for sharing it here. We are grateful to have you in our community! Warmest wishes, Shelby, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • Richard60
    5 months ago

    I recently moved to a state away from family and a girlfriend who gave up on me because she couldn’t handle me having MS. I moved to a state where I was told MS is well known here by Doctors and it seemed like the right choice, because everyone I talked to at hospitals said yes it’s not a problem they have the best doctors and technology and would be no problem to get a Doctor. Wrong I was lied to and I’m still waiting to see a neurologist after month 6. I had to travel back to the state I came from just to keep up on my meds.(800 miles away) This can cause a lot of depression and that is a lot of travel time which doesn’t mean anything to Doctors. I feel that this was a very bad decision yet there is no turning back now because I bought a house. I just don’t understand when a person says Yeah it’s not a problem and he(doc) can get you right in that when you walk in and sign the HIPPA form that’s when they say, we can see you in 6 months to a year. Now I’m running out of meds and seeing doctor on Halloween (6 months later). Also still waiting for results from upper intestinal hernia films taken 2 months ago. Bad Move and feeling depressed.

  • ShelbyComito moderator
    5 months ago

    @richard60 I am so sorry you are in this situation, and I can understand how frustrating and distressing that must feel. As you can see from the other comments here, you are certainly not alone in feeling this way. I hope you are able to find the care you need and deserve. You may try connecting with the MSAA to learn more about resources available to you in your local area: https://mymsaa.org/msaa-help/helpline-chat/ Please know you are welcome here anytime you need support or to share what you’re going through. Warmest wishes, Shelby, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • Monk
    5 months ago

    Callie, you mentioned how people can seem really happy and together but still be depressed. I remember watching Anthony Bourdain’s food and travel show thinking he’s got the best life. A couple of months later I read he committed suicide.

    Your strength and courage in expressing the difficulty of your depression is so helpful to the rest of us, knowing we are not alone. Thank you so much.

  • ShelbyComito moderator
    5 months ago

    Thank you for sharing @Monk. It’s so true – you never know what’s going on beneath the surface. It’s so valuable to connect with one another and shed light on mental health difficulties – it helps make them feel a little less dark and overwhelming. I’m so glad Calie’s article was helpful to you. Thank you for reaching out and sharing here. We are grateful to have you in our community! Warmest wishes, Shelby, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • LuvMyDog
    5 months ago

    I am so sick of hearing/reading: “we are not alone.” Yes, many of us ARE!!
    The fact that thousands of people suffer with MS doesn’t help the problems that I have in my life.
    I can no longer keep my house clean and neat.
    My close friends have died.
    When I am sick and weak, I have no one to rely on but myself.
    That’s reality.

  • Mike H
    5 months ago

    Calie, that’s a reassuring post. Most of us wear a mask to hide much of our feelings. It is tough to show happiness all of the time. Thank you for the boost.

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