By Tashmica Torok
There is a commercial about an anti-depressant medication that has the catchiest tune playing in the background. I joke with my husband that if depression had a theme song, it must be that little ditty. While lightly giggling at my own joke, I usually hum the tune for him. It is a remarkably jovial sound bite to apply to such a serious condition.
Until this year, I have never experienced depression. I've had bad breakups that have left me heartsick. I've dealt with sadness, mourned deaths and been frustrated by my personal circumstances but I have never felt that those challenges were impossible to overcome. I have never had the feeling that I couldn't choose to slowly step out of the sadness through my own strength of will. My understanding of the word depression equaled my understanding of a few bad days.
I stand corrected.
Depression came unexpectedly following a revisited betrayal. It was quiet, like a breeze bringing the smell of rain into my bedroom. Once settled, it permeated and collected on surfaces unseen like the ash spewed from a volcano. My children could see through the veil but it was weighted with iron in the hem. Their pictures hung in my bedroom and the Lego totems on my dresser, armoire and night stand are memorials to their vigilant attempts of resuscitation. It breaks my heart to know the futility of their efforts, to know the perseverance of their love for me. We were all surprised by this persistent foe.
I had no idea that a depression was like the weight on your chest when you struggle to wake from a nightmare. My eyes felt pinned shut and I struggled for breath as I tried to bring myself into the world. When acquaintances inquired about my life, I struggled to answer optimistically. Inside, I grated at the dishonesty of social interactions. My heart felt like it was an open wound and relating to my children brought an exhaustion that made me want for my bed.
Depression does not have a happy theme song. It is the darkest of clouds tied like a noose around your neck. It is a constant tugging down on a frame struggling to push itself upwards towards the sun. The answer to the depression question is not as simple as the suggestion to just move on, get up or be happy. It is probably different for every sufferer.
I am not sharing this experience with you because I want you to solve my issues or because I want to be brave and honest. I am sharing this because I don't want anyone to laugh about depression. That's not true either. I love inappropriate humor. I want the humor to be the kind that comes with a wince. The knowing kind of dark jokes we all make about our alcoholic parents or crazy Aunt Ruth. Its okay to laugh to keep from crying when we can recognize that depression exists.
I am feeling much better now. I awake and I am able to walk amongst the living with less effort. My children are beginning to recognize me. It is interesting how much that phrase; “Depression Hurts” is full of truth. My children now ask when I am going to bed. They ask me if I will stay with them for long. The evidence of the ash is on their eyelashes and in their hair and I am trying to dust them off. Depression does hurt. More than many people will ever know.
Tashmica Torok is a local entrepreneur, blogger and community activist. Her blog, The Mother Flippin': One Funny Mother, is about encouraging women to improve the world through thoughtful, honest parenting, responsible business practices and advocacy for those less fortunate. And laughter...loads of laughter!
This column was printed in the February 13, 2011 - February 26th edition.