Turtles pull their appendages and heads inside their shells when they feel threatened. They do this when they hibernate as well. There may be more scientific reasons, but these two are my personal observations as to why they clam shut. 🙂
I kind of feel like a turtle who has been inside its shell for a very long time. Occasionally, I ventured out to test my courage, but ended up quickly retreating back into my shell.
Depression is ugly any way you look at it, and dealing with the aftermath is challenging. I can understand how some give up, believing nothing will ever improve. Any bad situation sets us back, and we have to remind ourselves that our brains have been on a long journey back to recovery.
The journey has made us strong enough to plod through, learn from the setback, and move along. Unless we choose to give up and retreat. Perhaps this is why I have given up in the past. Well, the choice of retreat, the wrong medications, and the wrong type of therapy also played a huge role.
Cleaning up the mess we make takes gritty determination. It’s hard work, requiring a strong desire to do what it takes to maintain a stable mood. This time I recognized that I didn’t do all that was required to recover, only to stomp all over my accomplishments.
Friendships have to be mended and trust has to be earned again. The flakiest person I know is myself during a depressive episode. I make promises and break them. I isolate myself until nobody asks me to do anything with them. Reestablishing the friendships that were damaged places me in a pretty vulnerable position. I have to be prepared for rejection. However, this is when I learn who my true friends are.
I don’t mind discussing depression through my blog or among a group of friends. I will answer any question. If I don’t have the answer, I will point them in the right direction to find their answers…
…or so I thought.
For the last two years, our youngest has been dating the same girl. She has gotten to know the flake, the pretender, the stoic, unfeeling me.
I didn’t realize it until she asked why I would go on a hike with my daughter, but every time she asked, I would decline. She said that she thought I didn’t like her because I turned her down all the time, or I would evade the question altogether.
What was I going to say? Should I make excuses for my behavior? If I made excuses, which one could I use? What am I going to say to her?
We had talked about anxiety but not depression. Anxiety is a topic many can come close to understanding because they know what it feels like to fear something. To a person with an anxiety disorder—fear, is fear x 1000+. Most people understand fear, but they don’t understand how crippling it is to a person with an anxiety disorder.
Truth and honesty? Or avoid the topic and scramble for some type of excuse?
Although uncomfortable, I will always choose the path of honesty and truth…and so I told her about my major clinical depression I had been experiencing prior to my sister’s death. We also discussed the effect her death had on me, sending me further into a depression that I had never experienced before.
She said she understood, and had been through the same thing when her grandfather died. Yes, depression is a part of the grieving process, and there is a possibility she understands what a long-term-never-seems-to-end-torturous way of existing feels like. I’m not sure she fully comprehended, but it’s not my place to judge. Who knows, she may be pretending like I’ve had to.
I felt vulnerable, and Sensible Girlfriend accepted me as I am. Now, I need to give her a little lesson about introversion. 🙂
I don’t need that ugly old shell anymore. I know that I can get hurt, or have some more major wrenches thrown into my life, but I will survive. I did it, and here is the proof.
One day…if I should ever feel that rotten little rat bastard of depression sneak up on me, I will read the last year of my blog entries. (my apologies to those offended by my language—but that is my description of depression’s character, and I’m sticking to it)
The truth is in black and white. I fought. I conquered. I will continue to fight. My life is worthy.