There are some things we just have to experience to understand.
I couldn’t stand listening to them whine. My classmates, my co-workers, my friends and my family coming to me and sucking my positive energy dry. Those with so called “depression” were always so negative and I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand. I am ashamed of myself for not understanding.
I didn’t understand that depression wasn’t a mood or a frame of mind. I didn’t understand that my loved ones weren’t wallowing in self-pity. I was angry every time one of them attempted suicide or succeeded in killing themselves. I was angry at how selfish they had to have been to think only of themselves, to “take the easy way out”. I am ashamed of myself for not understanding.
I remember lying in bed one night with thoughts flying through my head faster than I could grab them. One night turned into eight months and before I knew it I was an emotionally charged time bomb. Anxiety for my family, friends, job, money, and marriage kept me awake at night. I wrote it all off as normal everyday stress. I am strong, I can handle it.
I wasn’t going to be one of the whiny sad people so I smiled through everything. Until, I started breaking. At first, I got paranoid. I started accusing my friends of treating me differently. I started accusing them of lying to me and not caring about me. What the hell was happening to me?
I internalized everything but I was still pretty good at ignoring the self-deprecating voices. I became obsessive about music, listening to headphones every time I heard the thoughts getting restless. My best friend would tell me to stop wearing them when I drove but I didn’t listen because I needed the music piped into my ears or else I couldn’t ignore the voices. If my husband or my friend got upset the headphones went in and I isolated myself in the music.
I WAS NOT GOING TO BE ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. Eventually, I got frustrated and with the frustration became anger. Constant battles and constant fights that always ended in regret and shame. Then the voices became too loud to ignore. The voices were right. I was worthless, I was whiny, I was a mess, and eventually I couldn’t hear the real voices of those around me. I was depressed.
I had already been writing for quite some time trying to make sense of things. Many of my poems are dark but they helped me in ways I didn’t understand until later. Writing didn’t cure my depression but writing helped me understand it better. One night I hit bottom and I survived the voices in my head (with help from a friend) long enough to get help.
TRYING NOT TO BE ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE was going to end up killing me.
Writing helped me in my counseling sessions and became part of my therapy. I began sorting through those thoughts I used to try to ignore. I discovered I harbored resentment, distrust, and shame because of the rape I had buried two decades before. I learned what kind of cycle my depression went through and what kinds of things triggered me.
When I start to feel, whether because of something I go through or because of something another person goes through, I sit down and listen to my thoughts. Instead of waiting for them to scream I am dragging them out of their little hidey holes before they get too comfortable. This is why I write poetry.
There is something about having a conversation with your thoughts and trying to summarize them with exactly the right set of words that is therapeutic. If I am especially upset I will focus on the rhyme and scheme of a poem. The longer it takes to write the more exhausted I am of the subject. If you are irrational it takes a good 20 minutes to start thinking rationally again. I can see this as I write.
I still get anxious and upset, I still get depressed, but writing poetry makes it more manageable. I don’t cry every day and sometimes I go months without breaking down. I made poetic duets a major part of my blog because I want others to experience the power of poetry. It isn’t about writing perfectly it is about listening and letting emotions (the tears and the laughter) have their say.
Now, I don’t see whiny people; I see hurting people. I see people brave enough to reach out. It is hard to ask for help. It is hard because we convince ourselves that it is selfish to hurt when you know others are hurting more. I have learned that mental pain can hurt just as much as physical pain and all pain is relevant. Now I listen and encourage PEOPLE LIKE ME to seek professional help because ignoring depression is dangerous.
I continue to write because I want people to understand the cure for depression isn’t as simple as mind over matter. I want those who suffer with depression to know they are not alone and that writing can teach us, connect us, and ground us. I let the voices out long enough to have their say and then I confront them by writing.