Friday, August 15, 2014

Depression for Regular People

Today was a Bad Day.

Today's Bad Day meant that I had to take the day off from work because I couldn't stop sobbing long enough to take a shower and get in the car. I kept right on weeping even when the postman tossed best present ever through my front door - a completely amazing Tiara of Happiness from my mom. From my MOM, who totally gets me, and makes me laugh, and sends me a Psychic Friends Tiara of Happiness at exactly the moment when I feel my lowest.

I spent the week wading through news articles about Robin Williams' depression and suicide. I read the powerful and heartbreaking notes from his family and friends. I raged at ignorant and idiotic declarations from the clueless. I felt relieved that my depression is relatively mild and manageable. Until today.

Robin Williams was a guy who had absolutely everything any of us could want - a genius intellect, brilliant talent, a beautiful family who loved him, work he loved, a huge heart full of compassion and kindness. When someone like him can't find his way from the abyss, in a strange way it gives the rest of us Regular People permission to claim our own feelings and legitimize our depression.

I spend a huge chunk of my energy allotment on recognizing how much I have to be grateful for in my life. I have a partner who loves and understands me. I have a mother, stepfather, brother and children who love and understand me. I have a whole posse of friends who love and understand me. I own a great little house, just my size, that I share with my amazing understanding partner and three cats. I earn a living wage, have health insurance, eat pretty much whatever I want. For crying out loud, I am so well appointed I pee in my own private bathroom in a toilet flushed with water clean enough to drink. There are people in this world fighting for access to clean drinking water and my daily toilet water is more pure than they will ever see in their lifetime. I get it - I have no reason to be depressed.

And yet I'm crying, not because I'm ungrateful, but because my body chemistry is out of kilter and my brain tells me I am sad, even though I have every reason to be happy. Yup, Depression for Regular People. So today I'm going to binge-watch Grey's Anatomy and have vicarious soap-opera feelings. I'm also going to have that extra shot of whiskey and eat the popcorn with real butter. Tomorrow I hope to be less sad and have a salad, but maybe I'll have cheesecake instead.

This is what depression for regular people looks like - Exhaustion. Gratitude. Coping. Moving On. Every day we circle the Abyss, thankful we aren't in it, and grateful for the angels who help keep us out of it. Every day we recognize our good fortune and still fight the 10 ton weight on our chest. And for every crappy feeling today, tomorrow there is a Sparkly Tiara of Happiness from our own personal angel.