The Inconvenience of Depression: Like the Tears of a Clown
Doesn't it seem that depression always happens at the most inconvenient times? It seems that a good depression always comes to visit me during some busy event when I am expected to be both social and happy. The one thing that you can rely upon is the fact that the world goes on despite the fact that one has a mood disorder. As much as you might like to stop the world, our responsibilities and obligations are all still there waiting for us.
One of my most incongruous moments was when I was severely depressed and took my kids to see the circus. The crowds, the noise, and the sight of clowns made me want to hide under my seat. We had the tickets for over a month and I didn't want to let my kids down. During the intermission I felt extreme gratitude that it was half way over. Why do seemingly "happy" events only serve to make our sadness more extreme? I felt guilty because I wanted to be the carefree mom who was enjoying a nice time with her kids. But the truth was I was not having a good time. In the midst of streamers, confetti, and the greatest show on earth, I was downright miserable.
I was depressed once when I had to attend a wedding. When I just wanted to lie in bed all day with my pajamas on, I had to muster the energy to look good enough for photos and gaiety. My uncomfortable shoes and dress only added to my suffering. I wanted to hide and be invisible but you try to do that at a wedding. Each moment seemed excruciating. There was the dinner and the dinner chatter. And then there was the music and dancing. On a good day the hokey pokey or bunny hop would be painful but on that day I would rather have had a root canal. At least I wouldn't have to pretend that I liked it. I did try to get away by going to the bathroom but even there I was not alone. More idle chatter would follow me. I simply could not escape the "joy" of the day. I felt like an emotional alien. I had to leave right after the cake was cut. I simply ran out of energy to keep up a pretense of being normal.
Work is especially difficult when you are depressed. I remember a time right after I had a miscarriage. It was one of the most devastating times in my life, but aside from having to take time off for a D and C to clear out my uterus, I didn't take more time off. I went back to work emotionally unready to resume my day to day duties. Between grief and my hormones, I was an emotional disaster waiting to happen. I made it through half the day when I just started crying and found that I could not stop. My boss didn't know what to do with me so he sat me in a room by myself. I knew I had to get myself together but I didn't know how. Some of my co-workers were especially kind to me at that time and let me talk about my grief. I had no idea that I would feel such loss. And I also had no idea that I would break down during work. It wasn't under my control at that point. There are times when you just can't hide things anymore and the feelings come out even during very inopportune moments.
Depression is so very difficult because we all don't exist in a vacuum. Sometimes we don't have the luxury of showing our sadness. The things which require a lot of energy even when we feel well seem impossible or excruciatingly painful to deal with when we are suffering from depression. Despite our depression we are still expected to do all the things we normally do. We still have to parent our children, be a friend, and go to work. Life is hard for those who have depression. But we still have to keep living. If I could tell people one thing about those who suffer from depression it is this. We are trying. We may not always be capable of smiling through pain but we still try to get up and do the things that need to be done.
I am interested in your stories. Have you had the experience of having to fulfill some obligation which requires you to act happy when you are really depressed? Share your experiences here. It will help others to know that they are not alone.