Posts Tagged ‘depression’

What the World Needs Now: A Depression Simulator

A couple of months ago, I spent some time playing with one of the virtual cameras James Cameron used to make Avatar.

The camera was, well, it was amazing. When you looked into it, you could see straight into a different world. If you looked up, you saw the sky. If you looked down, you saw the ground. You could spin around 360 degrees and see the “landscape” that surrounded you.

There was no sound, but the colors, the textures, they were all there. It seemed real.

We need the world’s artists, filmmakers and IT magicians to replicate that experience. To, in fact, take it one step further and create a virtual reality in every sense of the word. But it wouldn’t show the viewer the brilliant landscape of a science fiction world. Instead, it would immerse the beholder in the dank, dreary world of a depressed person.

Storm Cloud filled sky by bterrycompton

The colors would be flat. No brilliant blue waterfalls or verdant green hills here. Everything would be done in shades of gray. The sun. The sky. Even the children’s faces.

The sounds would be altered. Laughter would sound like sobs. A dog’s bark would sound like a howl. Even the sound of a loved one calling the camera holder’s name would sound distorted. Accusatory.

There would have to be a feeling of heaviness too. The viewer’s feet would be weighted down with boulders. Her shoulders bent under a heavy backpack. Her head dragged downward by an inexplicable gravitational force.

And if the makers were really talented, they’d insert voices inside the viewer’s head. They’d whisper thoughts of worthlessness. Of self hatred. Of anger toward anyone and everyone who dared to be happy.

They’d loop in an endless soundtrack of hopelessness, and work to convince their victim that the world would be better off without her.

And it wouldn’t end until the person being subjected to the experience was broken and begging for release.

Sounds harsh, I know. But perhaps if something like that existed? We could stop having ridiculous conversations like the one going on over on Katie Couric Facebook  page today, talking about how mothers who take antidepressants are weak-willed little pansies incapable of dealing with the day to day stress that comes with living.

Because after you’ve lived through that? I’d be willing to bet that you would never again call a person who suffers from depression weak.

Depression is a merciless illness that attacks you in a place where you have no defenses – inside your own damn brain. Most of the time you don’t even realize what’s happening until it’s too late. Until you’ve been sucked down so deep you can’t  even see the sun anymore.

Finding the will to fight back, to punch back the demons and reach for the happiness you’ve forgotten you deserve takes more strength, more f’ing chutzpah, than any of those superficial Holier-Than-Thous can even imagine.

Depression is not something to be ashamed of, any more than hypothyroidism or diabetes is something to be embarrassed about.

It’s a chronic illness. One that many of us keep in check only with the help of medication. Like Honest Mom, I am a better mom when I take my antidepressants. When I don’t? Well, it can get really hard to be a mom at all.

So, unless you’ve been there? Shut the fuck up. Please. We have enough critical voices screaming at us from right inside our own brains. We don’t need yours added to the chorus.

 

 

 

The Best Christmas Present Ever.

It was my favorite time of the year. Christmas carols filled the airwaves, the smells of baking cookies filled the air and laughter filled the eyes of everyone around me. But although I could see the holiday lights sparkling, nothing lifted the darkness that cloaked my soul.

Depression had wrested control from me, taking the joy out of the Christmas—and the light out of life. Sure, I went through the motions, decorating the tree, sending out holiday cards, and taking part in the retail frenzy that marks the season.

But none of it touched me.

I sent out silent signals of distress. Signals unintelligible to anyone but me. The lights decorating our house that year were blue. The cards sent out were absolutely generic, lacking my usual warm chattiness. The presents? Were bought with a minimum of thought, and I really didn’t care whether anyone liked them or not.

I trudged through the season, shoulders bowed under the weight of my pain. I hated everyone. Questioned everything.

What was I doing with my life? Was I really supposed to be here, doing this? Would anyone notice if I simply stopped existing? Would they be better off without me?

But the universe refused to answer.

Finally, it was Christmas Eve. I headed to church with my husband and his family for the holiday service. We sat shoulder to shoulder in the crowded church, the packed pews necessitating almost claustrophobic closeness.

But I still felt utterly alone.

I closed my eyes, fighting back tears, and did something I never do. I prayed. “God,” I said, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to go on living. I want to give up. Is that what I should do? Help me, please.”

Suddenly, a deep calm overtook me and a series of pictures flashed through my mind. My husband kissing me on our wedding day. Us laughing as we swam in the lake. Him with a befuddled expression on his face, holding our puppy at arm’s length as he peed all over the kitchen floor.

My beautiful life was laid out in front of me, and I knew that I was supposed to stay put. That I was on the right path. That I just had to hold on.

Then, as suddenly as it had come, the presence was gone. My husband squeezed my hand and the outside world returned. “Are you okay,” he asked.

I nodded, tears shining in my eyes, and for the first time in months, it wasn’t a lie.

I am not a religious woman. I don’t go to church. I’m not even always sure that I believe in an afterlife. But I firmly believe that God spoke to me that day. God spoke to me, and gave me something to hold on to.

He gave me Hope.

That was not the end of my depression. In fact, it worsened, and the months that followed were full of confusion, anger and pain. But through it all, I cradled that nugget of Hope close to my heart. It was proof. Proof that I could survive. That I would survive. All I had to do was have a little faith.

Eventually, light returned to my life, along with laughter and joy. But the memory of that moment took up residence in my core and continues to shine—my own personal beacon of Hope.

So, I Have An Idea.

Internet, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are blogging communities out there for just about everyone and everything. Blogging mommies. Working mommies. Vegan mommies. Blogging, working, vegan mommies.

But something’s missing. A community for depressed mommies (and daddies).

I know there are plenty of sites for the general depressed populace.  But that’s not enough. Parents dealing with depression face special challenges. Challenges that are hard to talk about. Problems that have no easy solution. And fears. Lots and lots of fears.

Now, I’m feeling just fine right now, but when I hit a bad spot? I have all sorts of questions. Questions like:

  • How do you deal with a teething toddler’s screams when your own shrieks of psychic pain are echoing in your head?
  • How do you ask others for help without worrying about being called an unfit parent?
  • How do you explain to your children what’s wrong without making them think it’s their fault?
  • How do you know if you’ve passed on your illness to your child—and how do you forgive yourself if you have?

We need a place where we can share our stories, our fears and our pain. A place where we can get advice, read about the latest news and connect with others. A digital community that’s always available to remind us  that we are not alone.

So I’m starting one. The working title is Parenting While Depressed, but I’m open to suggestions. Right now, I’m hosting it on wordpress.com, but if I’m right, and I’m not the only one who needs this? I’ll go the whole nine yards and get us set up for reals.

But, Internet? I need your help. I can’t do this alone.

I need:

  • People willing to post their own stories about parenting while depressed
  • Ideas on what you’d like to see included
  • People to spread the word

Will you help me?