I shoulda seen it coming. (That’s what I always say in hindsight, once it hits.) Maybe I shoulda known when five people at church told me I look “really, really tired.” Perhaps the signs were there when I purchased five melancholy poetry books despite my crippled budget. Or when I realized I hadn’t cleaned my room or car in over a month. Or when I got a headache and stiff neck from clenching my jaw for who knows how long. Or when I hadn’t left my bed for five hours after waking up and eventually ordered Chinese delivery. All Americans know that eating Chinese food in bed at 12 p.m. on a Monday is indicative of … depression. Bumbumbummm.
Not to worry, though. I’m really good at being depressed. In fact, I should stick that in my resume: “Really good at being depressed.”
We are familiar with each other, depression and me. In its shadow, I maintain productivity; I laugh and smile lots. Sure, my eyes look glazed and my clothes smell, but I seem fine. That’s what my friends tell me, anyway. They say I need to work on telling people when I need help, but the thing is I typically don’t really know I need help because I don’t realize a problem looms. Depression just kinda creeps on me, like those headaches that slowly blossom from a faded pressure to a good ol’ skull-splitting. I try to ignore it and SMACK.
We all have different flavors of depression, though I’d describe mine as flavorless. I’m not suicidal or self-destructive, I’m just floating without passion. I climb into bed realizing I don’t remember most details of the day. Many view depression as deep sadness, grief, or heartbreak. When I’m heartbroken, my heart frantically flops around like a gasping fish stranded on the shore. My heart still feels. When I’m depressed, my heart has long since stopped gasping. Gasping is hope — and depression seems hopeless.
Depression means I don’t feel, so why should I feel bad about having depression? I feel fine right now. But I guess it’s actually once the depression lifts a little that I realize something is wrong. Things become bad when a bit of sadness or desire dribble into my mind’s dry streambed. It’s then that I wake up to what I’m missing out on, that I begin craving some type of feels, any type of feels: pain, joy, anger, peace, passion, nervousness. I’m stuck in limbo between barely feeling and wanting desperately to feel intensely.
The depression hits me for a variety of reasons. It hits me when I think about the Honolulu Zoo llama that died in 2013 of pneumonia two weeks after I petted it … while I had pneumonia. It hits me when I worry no one will want to date a guy with a severe disease. It hits when I have vicious flashbacks of suffering, courtesy of cystic fibrosis. Sometimes it hits when I think about how happy I am and then fear I’ll lose that happiness. Other times, it hits for no reason at all beyond genetics.
There doesn’t need to be a reason, and if you’re not a poet, there doesn’t need to be a rhyme.
Depression perplexes loved ones. Even those who have had depression find it difficult to help those currently in its grasp: What’s causing it? I dunno. How can I stop it? I dunno. Do you want me to stay or leave? I dunno. Why aren’t you telling me what to do? Because I don’t know what to do.
Depression creeps, and I can only wait for it to creep away while I take care of myself with intention. I blow money on yummy food (and poetry books, apparently), I go to all church events possible, I hug people extra tight, I call my mom, I do daring things, I read more, I block out social media and current events, I take walks along the coast and sit on a rock to pray, I lie down spread-eagle in an open space at night to stargaze and recognize how small I am.
I’m really good at being depressed because it is in depression that I learn to grow. I dive into my spirituality, desperate and frantic. I become weak and in my weakness, God makes me strong.
My noon Chinese delivery never showed up. Its non-arrival forced me out of bed in search of food. I opened my door to find that it was the warmest and sunniest day Santa Cruz has had in a long, long time. My room had seemed so dark.
I ran to my restroom to take a shower, then carefully chose my outfit and made my hair look nice. Then, I took a stroll and admired spring flowers in early bloom. I heard birdsong and greeted a new neighbor who had a huge smile. I ate delicious fajitas at my local taqueria, a welcome alternative to my vanished Chinese delivery.
I’ll be OK.
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Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.