Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 18 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

(Not) Unique

It never fails to amaze me. I'm not unique.You'd think I would have learned that by now. I mean I've been writing this blog since 2008. Apparently I'm slow. Nevertheless, after reading your comments in the days following my last post I again discovered I am not unique.

I really was surprised. I thought my feeling of detachment was novel, but it turned out it was only novel for me. Many of you had felt it, too. Thanks for sharing your comments and letting me know.

Over the last 9 years, that's been one of the main benefits of authoring this blog, re-discovering I'm not unique. Depression is such an isolating illness. It pulls me inside out. I disappear into a shell of myself when overwhelmed with its debilitating effects. I feel totally alone, and isolation definitely nurtures that feeling of uniqueness.

Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for others with this damn illness, my experiences are not so different from your experiences. You get it. You can relate. Having others understand and relate to what I'm feeling and describing is quite comforting. Even though it constantly surprises me, it's always a good surprise. Thank you.

I'm so fortunate to have this space where I can be surprised when feeling dark and alone. Your comments comforted and carried me many times over these last few months. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with me. Sometimes it's good not to be unique.


Anonymous said...

One of the most infuriating, dismissive comments I hear from "neuro-typicals" is that other people have it far worse than I have. (Or as my father would often say: "Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about!") It's infuriating because even though I know it is true that many people have far worse depression than I do (and often for far worse reasons) MY DEPRESSION is serious, tough business for me. It is what is trying to kill me. It is the fog of my thoughts, the weight of my limbs, the defeat of my ambition, the weight I must drag, the bleakness I see. (It IS something to cry about.)

I understand what you say about rediscovering that there are others who share your plight -- I get it on an intellectual level -- but knowing that I am not unique has never given me any comfort. I still have my struggle. Like when I'm running a race. I know that the back-of-the-pack runners all around me are struggling, many much more than I am, but that doesn't lessen my struggle at all to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I wish I could find some comfort, as you seem to have, from knowing you're not alone in this, but I think I have shoved my emotional self so far down that I lack human empathy.

Okay, I've said too much. I am glad for you, though.

etta said...

@ paullamb: I get it. My father used to tell me I was selfish and self centered. (Isn't that normal in a 7 year old?) When I arrived in the rooms of my 12 Step program, everyone was talking about how selfish and self centered we alcoholics are. Boy, that really burned me, and unfortunately it kept me drinking for quite a time! How dare they! Fortunately, I got past it and got sober. I accepted it. Alcoholics, including this alcoholic, are selfish and self centered. That fact didn't mean my father was right. Kids are selfish and self centered. Sometimes parents say stupid things. I accepted that, too.
You, my friend, are so tough on yourself. You've accepted others have more difficult struggles, but that doesn't mean you're a bad person or shouldn't be feeling the way you're feeling. There are always others in the world who have it worse. It doesn't change our experience, make it any less relevant or any less difficult.
I try not to compare myself to others. I cannot know their struggle any more than they can know mine. Comparing only seems to bring me hurt and resentment. I don't care if your depression is better or worse than mine. It hurts either way, and I'm sorry that you're hurting. Depression sucks. I get it.

Anonymous said...

Etta, your posts give me hope & make me feel like I'm not alone. I had ECT three years ago & was on sick leave for half the school year. (I'm a teacher, so you can imagine the stress). Fortunately, the ECT worked with minimal side effects, & I was able to go back to work. I thought I was home free for the long run. I'm an avid cyclist & even went on a cycling trip in July for the Tour de France. Then it seemingly hit me from out of the blue in the latter part of January. Suddenly I didn't want to get up for my 8:00am Saturday & Sunday morning bike rides with my cycling group, which is also my main social outlet. I've managed to get out on my own some & ride later in the day, but I miss my cycling friends so much. The mornings are truly my enemy & it's all I can do to drag myself in to work. I've felt this way at least 12 weeks now. I have an appt. on 5/19 to see a psychiatrist who does TMS. I wish my regular psychiatrist had been more open to it earlier. I have 13 days of work left with students & then 2 days of postplanning. I feel like I'm walking through quicksand. I'm so tired of everything being such an effort. I hope that I'm able to have TMS & that it works for me. I'm so glad it worked for you. Ann