I have been contemplating writing this post for a while, but was very wary of doing so, given the sensitive subject matter. But today’s posts by Sara and Jen and Tonic have finally inspired me to bite the bullet, ignore my reservations and put pen to paper (or text to screen).
I do not suffer from depression, anxiety or any mood altering disorders. Not officially. My brain chemicals are not imbalanced, my neurotransmitters seem to be firing on all cylinders and I do not have to rely on happy pills to get me through the day.
That’s not to say that I never feel so low that my emotions are splattered all over the floor or that I never get so anxious that I feel I’m about to explode.
So far in my life I have had to deal with a childhood, which let’s just say was not all sunshine and rainbows, a tumultuous few years of marriage, infertility and the birth, and almost death of Offspring the First, who has severe special needs. Having knocked so many curveballs out of the park, I was convinced that I would finally catch a break when it came to trying for Offspring the Second. But I really should have known better, because I swear I could hear the sound of omniscient laughter.
There are days when the enormity of everything I have to contend with overwhelms me and I feel like I cannot breathe. On days like that I just want to hide under the covers and never come out.
There are nights when I am so anxious I cannot sleep, and I obsessively keep checking Offspring the First to check he’s still breathing.
And there are times like when I hear my neighbours toddler shouting “mummy, mummy” or I find out that my friend is pregnant yet again, that I go home, lock the door and cry like the baby I long to have or for the words I may never hear.
But for the most part I cope. I manage to get out of bed in the morning, paste on a smile (which is not always fake), go to work and get on with my day.
I’m not sure how I do this, but what I do know is that I will never answer the “how do you cope” question in either of these two ways.
- I cope because I have no choice
- I cope because I have to
I find these to be the two most insensitive responses to a very sensitive question. And every time I hear someone trotting out these meaningless platitudes it irks me anew.
With the cards life has dealt me I have met many people in similar situations, several of whom are dealing with depression, anxiety or mental health issues. Do they choose to be enveloped in a swirling vortex of darkness from which they feel they may never escape? Does anyone really think that this is a conscious decision on their part?
As for having to cope; everyone has reasons why they HAVE to cope. Spouses, kids, jobs etc. People who suffer from clinical depression or any mental health condition also have jobs and families, and they are dealing with a debilitating condition that wrenches them away from their daily lives without so much as a warning. Saying that you cope because you have to is, in my opinion, an insult to all those who are desperately trying to survive each day, but, with the best will in the world, are unable to do so.
So how do I cope? I honestly don’t know; I don’t have a prescribed recipe for survival.
What I do know is that I feel like God is holding my hand and guiding me, I am blessed with friends who understand me and I have been bestowed with a talent for writing which provides me with an outlet for my pain.
In short, I cope because I’m lucky.
And to all my friends, both flesh and virtual, who persevere with life in spite of the crushing darkness that descends upon them, I admire you for putting yourselves out there, sharing your stories and giving people like me the tools to understand.
I wish that you all be lucky too.
- Coping With Depression (answers.com)
- When Life Gets You Down: Coping With Situational Depression (everydayhealth.com)
- Depression 2.0 (scruffy-duck.net)