I work out.

Okay, so I get depressed. We’ve established that. And I can’t tell you how awesome it feels when I write something like that I get the kind of response I did. I feel like the internet has really opened up so many people to the realization that they have This Problem. That A LOT of people have This Problem. It helps to know that I’m not alone. That This Problem haunts a lot of people, in a lot of different ways.

So here’s my question.

How do you fight it?

Ben and I have had so many conversations about this. Medication, counseling, exercise, cognitive behavior therapy, writing, yelling… what do you do?

He ran into a friend the other day and she talked to him about her struggle with This Problem and she mentioned that she takes a medication that I’ve tried in the past and although I know he just wants to help, my initial reaction was CLOSE OFF DON’T LET FEELINGS HAPPEN, CHANGE THE SUBJECT, DON’T TALK YOU’LL SAY SOMETHING STUPID.

I hate the medicine. I’ve tried all different kinds. Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin and Lexapro to be exact. Out of them all Lexapro was the one I tolerated the best but even though the side effects were more minimal, I still hated them. It’s great that I’m able to mostly sleep at night and that I’m not scared that I’m going to die in my sleep but that’s mostly because I’m not scared of anything. I’m not ever REALLY happy about anything, nothing is ever REALLY that funny, nothing is ever REALLY… anything.

There is depressed numb and then there’s medicated numb and I’m not really sure which is worse but for me it seems silly to replace one with the other.

I do think that exercise helps me a lot. When I’m regularly working out I feel better, I sleep better, I eat better, I drink more water and Ben has commented several times that I seem happier. It’s really an internal struggle for me. Those of you that have The Problem know that sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning is a victory. Give me a medal, motherfuckers. I got dressed today. But I’m mostly what I’d call a “functioning depressed”. I go to work every day, I shower, I get the stuff done that NEEDS to be done.

But exercise doesn’t NEED to get done. If I don’t go run today the bills will still get paid, the power will stay on, the dogs won’t starve, Cassidy will still grow up. However, I probably won’t sleep that well. And then the next day I’ll be tired all day. Then when I come home instead of wanting to work out, I’ll still be tired and opt for a nap. Then it will be too late to cook dinner so we’ll have to go out to eat. Then we spend more money than we want. And I’ll probably eat like crap which will make me feel like crap. Then I’m in a bad mood and since I don’t feel good I won’t sleep well which means I’ll be tired the next day and won’t want to work out.

Rinse. Repeat.

Then it’s been two weeks since I’ve done anything and why even bother at this point!?

It’s started to sink in to me more and more lately that I need to make working out my medicine. I do NEED to do it because my happiness and therefore the happiness of this entire household depends on it. I need to make ME and my sanity as big a priority as paying the mortgage is. It’s what works for me.

In which I write.

The Bloggess could not have written this at a better time. It was just the kick in the ass I needed tonight.

I don’t talk about suffering from depression a lot. There are like 10,000 reasons for this but it’s mostly because people just don’t get it. If you suffer from it, or live with somebody who does, you probably get it. And no, you aren’t “so depressed” that the item you wanted wasn’t on sale. You had a reaction, you were sad, but you are most certainly not depressed.

Ben and I have been going to biweekly couples counseling sessions and one thing that keeps coming up is My Depression. It’s not something that ever fully goes away. Medicine can help, exercise can help, counseling can help, but when a bout of depression decides to creep into your head and completely take over your thoughts and feelings and daily life, all those things just can’t knock it the fuck out of there.

So when the counselor asks me how I cope, I tell her how I used to write. A lot. About funny things, about sad things, about life, about depression, about everything. But then after awhile I just kind of felt like I was echoing the same words that had already been said over and over and over. I used sarcastic humor a lot when I wrote about this stuff because it was natural and easy and a way to cope but it started to feel forced. I’d have to think of a way to make it seem funny that for three nights in a row I didn’t get any sleep at all because I was scared that I’d die in my sleep and the fear of not waking up the next day made my heart pound so hard I thought that’s what was going to kill me and holy shit it’s just a panic attack and the entire world is asleep and I want to stand outside in the middle of the street and scream fuck you all for not understanding how scared I am.

It’s hard to turn that into a joke. Because it’s not really that funny.

So one day I went to write and I sat there with my hands poised over the keyboard ready to type and… nothing happened. I’d try to force it, I’d try to just GET. WORDS. ON. THE PAGE and then I’d delete it because it’s bland and horrible and not funny at all and 90% of the people reading it would just think that I had legitimately lost my goddamn mind.

So the counselor tells me to write. And I just can’t express to her or Ben how much I wish that were possible. I WISH I could just sit down and write. I also wish that I could explain what it feels like to want to get all this shit out of my head and the very real physical pain it causes to sit there while nothing happens. The thought of sitting down to write and then nothing happening is frustrating and infuriating and PAINFUL. It hurts.

It took me almost a week to actually sit down and do it. This is it. I guess it’s going to take time. Like, I’m training to run a 5K on July 4th and realistically I didn’t give myself enough time but I was needing a kick in the ass to actually get out there and train. I’ve had to really push myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve been sore and tired and I’ve wanted to give up but my ridiculous stubborness to kick this 5K’s ass is the same thing I need to do with writing. It’s going to be uncomfortable, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to cause me pain, but the end result will hopefully be a better me than when I’m NOT doing it.