We all have that one relative, that one person we are required to love because they are family. The one who invites themselves over without an invitation. The one that hoards leftovers to take home without being offered. And, we deal with them. We put up with them because they are related to us and amongst their annoyances and bad behavior there is usually some interesting tidbit of knowledge or at the very least, they provide us with some sort of entertainment.
For me, Depression is that relative. It knocked on my door over twenty years ago and has barely left.
The short hiatus’ I get when it does leave are nice. Those months of sanity, clarity and peace are things I treasure because I know they won’t last, or at least they haven’t yet. And just when my nerves have settled and I have started to breathe deep breaths of relief…
“Knock, knock, I’m back!” Depression has returned.
It is a cruel being. It tells me lies and convinces me they are true. It beats me down and still continues when I can’t get up. It laughs at me. It mocks me. For some reason, I have too much respect to tell it to go the f*ck away. Like with that one relative, I have gone to therapy to try to work out living with this being. Decades of therapy… different forms of therapy… It always seems as if I am the one trying to mend this relationship while it continues to laugh away.
I’ve started to drink at times to cope with this relative, a glass of wine here, a Dark & Stormy there (not excessive, just once a day max). Then I started to medicate (with the aid of a doctor). Things gradually got better. I learned to cope with this relative and then it left. I must have become too boring for them.
Until the other day…
I’ve been feeling off for about three weeks now. There have been huge moments of anxiety that usually end in me feeling completely exhausted and empty. This emptiness was just a feeling of blah. Depression was still gone so there were no feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness. As the days passed, the blah feeling progressively started to last longer and start earlier each day. I didn’t really read much into it. I had lowered my dosage of Lexapro from 20mg to 10mg earlier in the month because I was doing so well. This was just a detox affect, right?!
Saturday went well. Spent the day with my daughter and we had a lot of fun. Dropped her for a sleepover and went on a dinner date with my husband. Then we decided to watch Night At The Museum 3. We have seen the other two. What should have been a humorous movie had me in tears of sadness. I was crying for Robin Williams. I was crying, because if you have ever been suicidal, you have an idea of what he must have felt, that desire to rid yourself of all the mental anguish and thinking death is the only way. I was crying because he took his life and I didn’t. I didn’t quite understand why all the tears were coming then. Right after Robin Williams passed, my husband and I did a movie marathon of his movies and watched Mrs. Doubtfire, The Birdcage, Night At The Museum 2. Nothing, I was fine. I guess not having watched his movies for a couple of years now triggered the thoughts I once had for myself, the thoughts that wanted to hurt myself, the thoughts that on Saturday that pondered grabbing a scissor again to cut myself, to rid myself of the mental pain that was still present after almost 2 years.
Whoa, wait, what?! Shit, the relative was back. I did that infamous eye roll we all do when that relative returns. Maybe it’s just a bad day. I would believe that if I wasn’t feeling so off the last few weeks. As I cried for Robin Williams, I heard Depression whisper in my ear that I was worthless. That’s why none of my friends had wanted to hang out with me recently. I was a pathetic mess, who the heck would want to be near that?! I cried that because of this it affected my daughter hanging out with her friends. I went off on such a tangent with this, that I might have sent a text or two that actually questioned my sanity.
Then I cried some more as I stared at Stephanie from 2 years ago as she ziplined through the trees in Ketchikan, Alaska. Such a strong happy being. Why was it taking so long to get part of her back?! Looking down to my hands, I noticed I was holding the pillow I made from T’s shirts he grew out of and cried some more. He was gone because of me, because this relative couldn’t deal with another person.
“See, you don’t deserve your husband and daughter. You’re such a burden to them.” Depression laughed.
I ended Saturday night passing out from crying.
Sunday started how all my mornings with Depression starts… apologizing. I apologized to Jimmy for him having to deal with me. I apologized for being so needy and weird. I apologized for being the reason Tyler had to leave. So many “I’m sorrys” came out of my mouth and with it my lucidity. I feared what might come next. I was worried what my unwanted relative might do, but I have been there before and I as I stated above, that undesirable relative usually teaches us something.
So Depression, what have you taught me?
Having you in my life has made me a much more compassionate person. Although this can affect me in unfavorable ways, I am grateful that I can sympathize with people and try to place myself in their position. You have made me a better person because of this. You have made me realize that I truly have what is important in life, life for one, and a great support system that others may not have. You have made me rise and stand up becoming a Mental Illness Advocate. You have pushed me to learn more about you and other ways I can survive living with you. You have made me recognize you in others and be a support for them. You have helped me rediscover my joy of writing. You’re not completely evil. Like that relative, I do have some sort of acceptance for you and maybe, just maybe, you will teach me some more things.
One thought on “That One Relative…”
So sorry your relative is back, Stephanie. Quite a fitting analogy you’ve outlined here. I am glad it does teach you, as at least there’s some meaning there. Another thought: our relatives care for us, even though they may show it in misguided, annoying ways. Could there be care buried in your depression, masked by maladaptive behavior or thoughts? Like it being a coping mechanism that backfires? 💜