Molly Alexander: Perspective

For most of my life I have lived with depression, stemming from both genetics and from experiences from my childhood.  In the past, this depression has completely taken me over, paralyzing me and keeping me from fully participating in life.  Along with the depression comes physical pain as well: migraines, body aches, general blah feelings.  The medication I am on works well as far as the chemical imbalance goes, and I spent years in therapy, giving me the tools to work through the emotional stuff in healthy rather than self-destructive ways.

There are, however, still times when, despite the medication, my depression breaks through and causes a downward spiral.  These times are fairly cyclical - usually Spring and Fall.  I am better at recognizing the signs now, but they still take their toll on my and my family's quality of life.  I don't get angry or sad really.  Mostly I get into an apathetic funk that sticks around for a while and then disappears as quickly as it came.  There are, however, a couple of weeks in there - sometimes more - when I honestly don't do anything worthwhile.  

I hate the apathy.  I tend to push away everyone and anyone who is important to me and I retreat into myself, believing that no one else could or would ever understand how I'm feeling or why I'm acting this way.  Quite frankly, I don't always understand it myself.

It is in these dark moments that a still, small voice inside speaks up, if I am willing to listen.  A voice that sounds a bit like this:

So...are you breathing today?  That's great - you're still with us.
Your legs - they still work, right?  Yep - looks to me like you can still get up and get going.
Are you blinking your eyes?  That means you can still open them and see beyond yourself to the world around you.
Your arms are moving too - you can still create with them.
Your mind is still there - use it to make sense of what is going on around you.
Your heart?  Great - still pumping.
Pull your head out of the apathy and look around you.  
There is so much planned for your life - the only one you've got, by the way - and you are wasting precious minutes of it.  Get up, get out, and use it to help others who don't have everything you do.  There is more to your life than just you.

This voice - this change in perspective - is what I need, every time.  My world is not just about me.  There is a plan and a purpose behind it.  A plan and a purpose not just to make my life better, but the lives of others as well.  Others who don't have their eyes, their arms, their legs, their mind.

It may take a while, but eventually the restraints my depression break and I get a glimpse of the path I should be on.

The path where my life isn't the sole focus.

Where my issues, while important, aren't so huge as to obscure the possibilities of what this life has to offer, if I just look for them.

And I am able to see the light - the hope - of it all.  

And this still, small voice?  I am so, so grateful for it, and for what I can do because of it.


Malin de Koning said...

Oh Molly, that is strong reading. I am so glad you wrote it. I am glad you have that little voice within you. Grateful! Because you give a lot to the world. And I also wish for you to not have to be in that hole (as I call it) of depressed apathy. Or at least not for long periods. Then again I also wonder if perhaps it's a way for your system to balance things out, and that they are necessary for you so that you manage to function well in the un-depressed periods. Hope you understand what I mean. It is just a thought, I don't know. They are a part of you in a sense, make you who you are. But they are not pleasurable to be in, and they affect the people around you.

I wonder if you ever thought about if there is something that would help you get out of those darkest holes more quickly. Something from the outside? Someone saying something? Some activity? Some gestures? Stroking of your forehead? Holding your hand? Bird twitter? Smells? Something? If there is, is there any chance you could tell people around you this, so they can give it to you when needed. It could also be interaction with the online world, or something. But I do get the picture like you almost go into a bubble and that the skin around it needs to be poked. It is your little voice within who's done the poking so far. How about having it poked from the outside? Would that be possible?

Another thing, I think it is very easy to feel guilty, or even shameful, for being depressed. Like you are an obstacle for others. A bother. I know I can feel like that when I am low. But I also get angry at that. And an urge for revolting against it arises within me. I have the right to be depressed! That is a positive power that helps me when I am low. But if the guilt would become very powerful that would certainly make me apathic. Not saying this is how it is for you. What I mean is that I want for people to have the right to be depressed. No one should feel guilty for it. Ever.

Give your beautiful wise small voice within a hug from me!

I wonder if you ever thought about if there is something that would help you get out of those darkest holes more quickly. Something from the outside? Someone saying something? Some activity? Some gestures? Stroking of your forehead? Holding your hand? Bird twitter? Something?

Malin de Koning said...

Oups, I had a paragraph doubled in my comment above. Please just ignore the last paragraph. :-)

Christine said...

Depression is such a formidable foe to face. Living with chronic pain and limited mobility, it seems a constant battle to not sink. There are times, I don't have the strength to fight it but then I see a glimpse of one of my daughter's faces, or hear my grandsons giggle and I move forward. Our inner voices are a blessing, whether the voice is from God or our spirit, we continue to move forward. Thank you for sharing and may you continue to fight the darkness and move forward.

Penny said...

Thank you Molly, I too suffer from depression and I often get into a funk but I have always felt guilty when it happens thinking that the medication should help and I should not be feeling this way. I have shared with friends and family that I suffer from depression but there is only one person who I really speak to about my feelings because I sometimes feel that others won't understand how I am feeling and I feel shame and embarrassment for my illness.

Malin wrote some beautiful things and I will be processing what both of you wrote today as I move forward!!

Much love and hugs!!


Riki Schumacher said...

Thank you so much for sharing this Molly. What a challenge to deal with, and it sounds like you do an amazing job of that. I applaud you my friend, for meeting it head on. We all just go through our days not knowing the difficulties our friends have, and vice versa. I guess it probably is due to embarrassment. But what a wonderful world it is here, that you have created such a warm and inviting platform that we can share these things with our friends. I am grateful for that Molly, and am grateful for you. xoxo Riki

Lana said...

Dear Molly, Thank you for sharing this... and for so much more. You are such a blessing!

Brandi Hussey said...

This could not have been easy to write or post, so thank you for your bravery in doing so!

I tend to get in a funk during and after the holidays (so... right now). It happens every year, and I dread it. Winter just sucks the life out of me sometimes.

I'm so glad that you've got that voice inside reminding you to come back to yourself! It's such a gift, really - I've had friends who have suffered from depression that never found that voice inside to lift themselves up. It's hard to watch, only because I know they're hurting and I can't do anything to help fix it.

There's nothing shameful about depression. It just is. I'm glad you've been able to notice the signs, though. Good for you for being proactive!