Saturday, March 26, 2011

What Depression Is...

I am not writing this post to have a pity party for myself.  I am writing it thinking maybe someone out there knows someone out there that this will help.  It is what I deal with.  It is not feeling a little sad.  It is not the "blues."  It is depression.  It is the reason why this blog has been so stagnant for so long.

I have been diagnosed with depression for four years.  Up until then, I knew people who were clinically depressed, my husband and older son among them.   After my break, I found out many people who were near and dear to me also dealt with depression.  Everyone's depression presents itself in its own way.  Everyone has a way of coping so that life can move on, though ever so differently than it did before.

Before, I was able to provide a superhuman illusion of working mother.  I could be super-teacher, super-mother, and crafting queen (literally Stamping Royalty for Paper Crafts!).  I had two boys who were being assessed for autism spectrum disorders...just one more hoop in the juggler's hands.  Life was about work.  Life was hard.  I knew it would be.  I was given no promises.  My crafting was my outlet.  There was a whole audience of people out there who did not know me personally, but from whom I took personal pleasure in their kind words about my projects posted on my blog and at Splitcoast. 

Because the depression hit like a tsunami, I was on leave for several months to get things in order for my boys and myself.  During that time, crafting was key to my healing.  I followed a path back to the "gateway drug" of scrapbooking (thank you, Cathy Zielske and Becky Higgins for showing me that scrapbooking could be as simple or complex as we make it).  I was able to work out the grief I was feeling over recent deaths of loved ones and the death of what I believed my son's lives would be.  I am completely blessed by the friends and family I have who made that time a time to heal for me.

Alas, the medication I was taking to help with the depression, plus a lack of caring for my physical health, allowed for a 60 pound weight gain.  I was getting mentally more stable (according to me), but my physical health was not the yin for my yang.  I decided the meds needed to go (a scary moment), and I needed to take control (because that's what I do). 

I started Weight Watchers again (halfheartedly... only because I knew what I needed to do...), and I began to exercise.  Not just exercise, but Zumba.  Not alone, but with my friends.  And suddenly, the depression started to subside.  It was like an hour of dancing with the girls three times a week.  And I lost 35 of the 60 I gained.  And most of the time, the depression seems like a bad memory of a car accident that you survive and learn from.  It happened.  So eager to use past tense verbs...

Still, the demon of depression stands in the corner... waiting.  Yep, I had a week off for Spring Break.  No crafting.  Plenty of school work.  I made an entire science unit for the SMART Board and prepared for a presentation.  I completed report cards.  I went backwards to the idea that, once my obligations were done, then I would "get" to craft.  I went back to running the marathon rather than recovering from the 5K (metaphor, although I have been running a lot lately), as my six sessions with a counselor uncovered. I went back to telling myself that I can do what I enjoy AFTER my obligations are met.

I straightened my craft table so that, when that spirit moved me, it would find a place to create.  I exercised 5 days straight.  Then, I got knocked on my rear with sinuses, right when I was gearing up for a craft resurgence.

Just because I am blowing my nose every two minutes does not mean I cannot craft.  Here's that demon again.  It serves as one more excuse, pinning me to my first floor.   I have an entire, gorgeous room full of hours of entertainment.  I have a six year old who frequently paints and cuts and glues who would love to craft with me, and who runs to the room every time he hears my Cricut.  I am stopped in my tracks.

A friend of mine lost her father a little over a year ago and just recently lost her mother.  She spoke with me at work about just sitting in her bedroom... not doing anything... just staring.  It made me catch my breath.  That is how depression manifests itself in me.  The freight train is running, but there are no tracks.  I know I should/could be doing something, but I stare at a non-changing Facebook page or pour over infomercials believing that a Genie Bra will, indeed, change my whole outlook.

The thing about scrapbooking is that you are NEVER done.  Never.  It works against that push inside of me that says, "It must be finished!"  I don't think that's a bad thing to be in my life, truly.  It can help me with that feeling that everything must be completed in order for me to enjoy life.

This post holds no promises of a card a day or a scrapbook page a week.  What it holds is reflection.  It is, in its own way, my journaling for a page to come.  And an explanation to those that might still read this little blog 'o mine.  I'm walking this crazy walk through the fog waiting for it to lift.  As it does, I am hoping it leaves me some adhesive and cardstock.