A few weeks ago, I came across Jen’s post „Tears of a Clown“ in which she describes her experience with depression and anxiety. The post is already a little more than a year old; nevertheless the subject is dateless. I read the post once, I read it twice – and I thought: Well, she must be talking about me! I was stunned how perfectly she worded this difficult subject, and I also was a bit jealous.
„The truth is, I’ve been in some strange downward spiral over the last few months. Maybe it’s more of a sadness black hole I’m being sucked into. Whatever it is, I want so badly to get off this train to crazy town already“.
„It’s not one thing plaguing me. Some people can identify that it’s their job or relationship or financial situation. Mine is…everything. I suffer from anxiety, and have a history of depression. It’s mostly under control thanks to coping mechanisms I’ve acquired over the years, but it occasionally creeps up on me. It feels like a ton of bricks crashing down on me, and then having a steamroller come by and run my ass over“.
I, too, have a history of depression that goes way back to my teenage years. Except that in my teenage years (and many years afterwards) I didn’t know the state of mind that I fell into from time to time was called depression. Mine, too, was “everything”. Above the surface I was the tough, eloquent woman with an interesting job and a wonderful child. Two wonderful children a little later. Underneath the surface there was an ocean of sadness that I did not feel, there was a dramatic lack of self-confidence and I could not name the reasons.
„Then there’s the depression. Some days a cloud of malaise hangs over me, but it’s still manageable. I have a beer, or crawl into my sweats and watch reality television until it’s time for bed. Other times I wake up nearly in tears, and have to force myself to get out of bed … Eventually the fog lifts, and I poke my head out. Lather, rinse, repeat“.
„Most people are really surprised to learn this about me. I’ve been told several times, <You’re the happiest person I know. What’s your secret?> My secret is that I’m a fucking wreck on the inside“.
Reading this, I remembered my own attempts to write about my experience with the mental health trouble that used to be a part of my life for such a long time and sometimes still is. I’ve never finished these drafts because I never seemed to be able to find the right words, no matter what I tried. Neither in German (which is my first language) nor in English – quite remarkable for a woman who is able to write just about everything, except novels.
At the same time, I really do want to write about it, because I’m deeply convinced that it is necessary to write and speak about mental disorders. Once you speak about it, you’re on the way to exile it, even if it’s a long road that leads to the new country called a better life. At least that’s my experience, even if the better life may fall apart again some time. And, what is even more important, only when we speak about it, others will hopefully accept some day that being hit by depression or other troubles of the soul doesn’t make you a wimp. So maybe now I’ll give it another try and add my own experience to Jen’s post. To be continued … and thank you Jen! I very much hope you’re better again.