To say I've been stuck between a rock and a hard place for the last few months would be an understatement. I've already blogged about some of this earlier, and I really don't need to be repetitive, but I'm in a rut. Which seems to be getting deeper, and also lonelier.
When you have depression, there are those who encourage, which is wonderful and needed. Those who tell you to be and think more positive and positive change will follow. They are somewhat right, and should continue their reminders. But sometimes in their attempts to help they grow weary. They don't understand that the feelings of despair and deep down brokenness can't often be switched off or on like a 100 watt light bulb, eradicating all sign of darkness. Depression is a puzzle, and also a winding stairway in an Escher-esque room that doesn't always make clear whether you are on an upward or a downward path. Often a person with depression gets comfortable in their direction, steps are firm, life seems to work, all is calm. Sometimes they have been taking, by virtue of grace or chance, all the right steps, and can thank the stars and God that the sunlight is sure to shine a little longer.
Sometimes with sure or unsure steps a person with depression creeps slowly and cautiously, trying to enjoy the light they have, when suddenly either the stairway flips and they find themselves upside down and in the dark again due to unforeseen circumstances, combined with an inhibited ability to deal with upset on the fly. And sometimes, they simply come to realize that gradually the dark has crept in little by little, step by step, unnoticed until it nearly envelops the world around.
I have found myself in the blackness in each of these ways. And have always managed to find my way back. The thing, though, that is hard to understand for someone on the outside, is that often getting back into daylight is a little more complicated than it might seem. Maybe complicated isn't the right word. What I mean to say, is that it is a slower journey back to the light than it is for most. There is most certainly a way out. There always is. The sun is always there waiting patiently, but it is so much harder for people to wait.
To find the way out of the haze and darkness of depression, one must first find a reason. Motivation is critical. And next come tentative steps in various directions testing the levels of light. Am I closer now? Further? And once a clear path is found, there is the hike back up through the layers. This can be rather quick, or awfully slow depending on the complexity of the "issue." Often times there doesn't even seem to be a real issue or root cause, making it harder to ascend quickly. But given time and support, a person who struggles with depression can find their way out of these dark pits that regularly loom, and live a relatively normal existence.
The hard part for me though, is when I find myself in a particularly dark and sticky pit, with an abnormally windy path out. Friends begin to give up. To walk away from the negativity... and heck, I'd probably do the same. I feel the silent label of negativity stamped accross my head and across everything I say and do. I fight it, only to find it harder and harder to fight. Suddenly I find that I am too much for any of my loved ones. Too much for my friends to bear. They may still wear the facade of friendship, but I learn one by one that they can't take my confidences anymore. You begin to meet new people, your church, for example, and realize that your life is too messy to bring to them. And up go the walls. Someone will breach them, because many church people are well intentioned, wanting to get to know the people they see there, and then fear sets in and you notice you have begun setting up an escape plan. And then you suddenly see that you have been here before. This is a pattern you are repeating once again... Too much.
I felt this way today. Too much. At the edge of several friendships that are more behind me than anything else. A husband who has his hands full just dealing with my moods and my inability to manage our house and kids. A church full of people who I cannot let into the darkness, because I know I will never be able to escape it in their eyes once they see it. I felt sad and beaten down. My kids were tired and bored and testy. Needing more but not knowing what they need... and I know that what they need is more of me, as I try not to pull away.
Then there was the tantrum. An hour and fifteen minutes of screaming. I screamed back. I cried, I begged, I had some terrible parenting moments in that hour and a half. Something about not being able to console my child cuts me as deep as any other wound could. And then I make it worse by screaming back. I'm tempted to say "it was only once," but once is too much. There is no "only." The fit calmed and we went about our evening of Bible Camp uneventfully. And then there were fits over bedtime.
This time I was calm and cool, and resolved. My voice didn't raise, my stance was steady, but I still felt that something was broken. Had been ruined. A vase somewhere in that little heart was cracked or crushed. But when I finally kept my promise to come back in her room if she calmed herself, I reached down to kiss her cheek and she said the most unexpected thing ever. "I'll never give up on you mama." And I sobbed. She kissed my cheek and wiped away my tears.
In that moment, I knew that she was right. She never would. And I found a glimmer of hope, that maybe just maybe I really can trust God to make up for my mistakes. And maybe I can find a way to be a better me. Because I really don't want to let my sweet angel daughter down. I want to give her something to believe it. Something other than a legacy of tears. Hers and mine both.