What Not to Say to Us

I had started slowly coming out of the holiday depression, when a friend made a remark that knocked me back into it, actually into a worse place than I started from.  She asked something like “Are you holding on to your misery?”  I got angry, said NO.  Said “I’ve worked very hard for a long time to get better.”  As I was leaving I asked her “Do you really believe I’m holding on to my misery?”  She said “No,” but alas, my psyche responded as if she had said yes, and I dropped down into the worst place, where it’s just too hard to go on with the daily struggle.
I told Lynelle about what she said and Lynelle got angry at Sally.  She said “That’s what controlling people do when they are up against a situation they can’t fix.”  That helped a lot,  but the day was wrecked on a hard rock.  I didn’t do my stretches.  Looking back I can feel an angry energy.  “You think I’m holding on to my misery?  then why should I bother keeping up with my daily disciplines?”  The daily disciplines: stretches, walking, medication, therapy, writing in my journal, are not things that help me feel better right away.  So there’s no immediate benefit, which makes them harder to do when I’m feeling tired and discouraged.  Why bother?  So here I am perversely refusing to do things that don’t make me better except that they support my life in the long run.  Is that holding on to my misery?
Fortunately, my cleaning lady was here and she brought in extra firewood.  And my friend Randi came for lunch.  I had warned her that I was depressed, so she brought lunch, bless her heart.  Without that I might not have eaten.
What people don’t understand about depression is that it can’t be banished by willpower.  Sometimes it responds to surrender as in step one: Discovered I was powerless over depression.  Sometimes it responds to a softening of compassion that I extend to my depressed self. Sometimes it responds to a recognition that I am angry at myself for being depressed and softening with the idiocy of it.  But none of these works every time.  Medication makes a big difference, but there’s a limit to how much I can take.  Medication, as I’ve discovered after struggling over many years, creates a kind of stable platform that keeps me from going dangerously down, and allows me to make good use of therapy.  Therapy works, but again, not every session.  It’s something I just keep doing to survive.  Anything that implies that I’m somehow choosing to be in this pain, or that I’m not doing something easy that would lift me out of it, is totally toxic, about the cruelest and most devastating thing any one could say to someone who’s depressed.

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