The Depression Arch: 1 Dangerous Ride

Something that came up during a conversation on Twitter really made me stop and think…do people who suffer with chronic depression ever truly experience stabilization in their moods? A stabilization that lasts longer than a couple days, weeks, months? Maybe a year or two?

It varies with different people because everyone is different. No one experiences depression like someone else. For me, my depression is like an arch. It is almost so tangible for me that I can sit down and map out my depression over this year. I began 2017 in a dangerous, dangerous bottom part of the arch. By April into May, I slowly moved up the left leg of the arch. By June into July, I reached the peak, and the peak was incredible. I was almost depression-free for a majority of the time. I could concentrate, I could focus on discovering who I am, and I could enjoy life. As of the beginning of August, I can feel myself dropping down that right leg of the arch. However, I am not free falling down it, no. I feel like I am simply jumping off the peak, tapping the ground, and being jolted back to the top as if I was bungy jumping. It. Is. Hell.

I never thought of it as an arch until the topic of stabilization came up on Twitter. I sat down and thought about my own experience of depression over this year. Now I simply picture myself riding up and down the St. Louis arch like I did when I was 14. I have a never ending ride. The ride going up is exciting because I know once I reach the top I will have a splendid view of my life, I can take a deep breath, and I can bask in the sunlight. The right going down scares the heck out of me. It means self-harm, constant depression, isolation, and crying in a dozen places that I shouldn’t be crying at..such as work. I work at a call center of the deaf. They will not appreciate me crying during their phone calls.

Personally, I think stabilization for me simply means a couple of months if I’m not going to school, working, and trying to survive at the same time. Being out of college took a large stresser off of my plate. I simply get up at 5am for work, go to work, and I come home. I have more free time to dedicate to my art, my writing, my photography, or just watching a movie/tv show at my leisure. Sadly, I’m on season 7 of Frasier and I started it in June. What do you think? Does stabilization truly exist, or do people just experience small spurts of it? I’m extremely interested in what others believe.

Lately, my depression has come home, and it’s having a party in my head. Today, it’s eased up. However, the past couple of weeks have been rough. I isolated myself from nearly everyone outside of work. Someone I once considered family I stopped speaking to altogether. My best friend I only reply to when she messages me first. Otherwise, you don’t hear from me. Part of me wishes someone would notice my absence in their life and reach out because I simply don’t know how to sometimes. I can pour out my heart right here, but I can’t bring myself to text a friend and just ask for company. Then again, my mind is so great to try persuading me people don’t care. Sometimes the mind can be something evil.

Aside from isolation, I’m easily brought to tears or angered. I can easily go from being super angry with my supervisors (granted for good reasons usually) to quickly in tears at my cubicle or at lunch. I can be cheery to my brother before starting a yelling match with him because I’m tired and I really, really don’t feel like cooking dinner or doing the dishes by myself. I’m a bomb ready to go off these days, and you never know which one you will get.. the Tiffany who cries or the Tiffany who is ready to murder you.

The self-harming returned in the form of cutting and hitting things. That quickly morphed into cleaning like my life depended on it, hurting my back in the process. Suicidal thoughts have come back with a vengeance, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to draw to help ease the mess in my head. It’s been literal hell to be living in my head recently.

Something else that came to my attention, this time on Facebook, is about those with suicidal thoughts not having a safe place to go to be open about how they feel. I wholeheartedly agree with that. A lot of people endorse the suicide hotline or online chat. Have you ever tried either of those? It doesn’t help. For me, it pushes me further towards that edge I shouldn’t jump off. It is absolutely, positively impersonal. When I need someone to talk to, I really need someone who knows something about me. I need to know it’s a real person who truly cares for me, who knows a little about who I am, and who really wants to help me. The few experiences with the hotline/chat has always made matters worse. One tried to blame my problems on something that’s happened 7+ years ago. That night after I ended the chat, I nearly ended my life.

Going to friends isn’t usually a good solution either, unless you have incredible, non-judgmental friends. Most people see you as needy, dramatic, attention-seeking, etc. Someone told me to shut the fuck up once. Others ignore you. And these are supposed to be good friends that support you no matter what, and they tell you to talk to them anytime. Lie much? I’m grateful for a couple friends in my life who are there no matter what. However, I’ve begun isolating myself because eventually they’ll get tired of me and leave me too, right? Everyone else in my life has left me, so they surely can’t be any different.

Going to family is sometimes a joke altogether. They yell at you for self-harming. You’re suddenly irresponsible, self-centered, and selfish. I can’t begin to describe how many times my family has said that. Now, I just stop telling them. I hide the cuts. I hide the bruises.

I went to Frostburg State University here in Maryland, which is where I discovered my current therapist. The counseling department on campus was the only place for me to reach out when I had no one else. Before finding my therapist, things were terrible for me. After my therapist left campus for a better, less stressful job (I was so proud of her for sticking up for herself), things got terrible again. I was informed how to commit suicide using Tylenol. Now, I can’t keep it in the house just to make sure I’m not tempted. When I was in a car accident, was assaulted on campus, and was stressed beyond my belief, I wasn’t important enough for the therapist I saw for crisis counseling. They weren’t willing to help you unless you were reading to jump off one of the dorm roofs, and then they would simply cart you away to the hospital without dealing with you. Granted, not all of them there were that bad. I know of at least 1 other who offered me crisis prevention over the phone, and she truly helped me that night. The ones I had contact with, however, made matters worse. My last semester is a bit of a daze because of the stress and depression.

I have been wishing there was a place, online or in person, that people could reach out to in order to just talk without being judged. I’ve considered starting a meetup group or a Facebook page or something to open it up for people I know to seek friends/support when they need it. The only thing that has stopped me is whether or not people would actually want it, use it, and be comfortable reaching out like that while knowing it’s not professional help they’re receiving..just a shoulder to lean on when they need it.

I’ve simply just allowed myself the time I need to do whatever I need to do to help myself while the depression is hitting hard. If I need to go to bed by 6pm, I do it. If I need to just sit down watching a tv show or movie, I do it. If drawing or writing would help, I do it. Will doing something physical like cleaning help? I’ll do it, but keep in mind I’m not meant to do too much work without hurting my back. Sometimes, all you need to know is yourself. Sometimes, just doing self-care is what you need. Yes, I’ve got a graduate school application to work on and a writing portfolio to prepare. Yes, I need to find a new job. Yes, I need to save money and pull more overtime at work. I’m not forgetting these things. I’m just focusing on what will keep me alive in order to do those things.

Until next time!

One more thing…. become an advocate today for a good cause in the U.S. A incredibly smart 15 year old girl in California began a campaign to stop child marriage. Please take a moment to visit her website. If you live in 1 of 25 states that allows child marriage, take the time to print out the letter and send it to your legislature. Each letter can make a difference. Be a part of something good. And if you live in a state that has made it illegal, take a moment to spread the word. It only takes 1 minute. Become informed. Be a part of something good.

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