My wife is sick right now.
She’s been sick for the last couple of days, including yesterday when I was at work all day, then school all night. She started potty training our threenager today, too.
I have the best wife and mother of my children that anybody could ever have.
I’ve been thinking recently about what it feels like to get sick.
The symptoms of physical sickness come on slowly and are hardly recognizable. Until one moment you’re sitting there with a sore throat and the aches and you wonder where it came from. And why.
I’m just waiting to start feeling those symptoms myself, as often happens when a family member gets sick.
And yet, they haven’t come yet. Not even a few symptoms of just a slight cold. You know the kind, when you’re not full-on sick, but end up having to deal with some of the symptoms anyway?
Let alone the fact that the incubation time for viruses like the common cold can be multiple days, so I likely wouldn’t have gotten sick yet anyway.
But some other symptoms have come on quite strong, yet subtle.
And it wasn’t until tonight that it hit me what it was.
I have a hard time admitting that I experience depression. A sort of “impostor syndrome” you could say. I feel bad that most days I have it much easier than many who experience severe depression, and that makes me wonder if I can even call it depression.
But, just like the common cold, the symptoms are unmistakable, and the onset can be very subtle.
So subtle, almost, that you don’t even recognize them for what they are.
It’s being a little more on edge and getting frustrated more easily.
Not finding happiness in the little things that usually make your day.
Lacking the strong desire that you’ve had to succeed for so long.
And not being able to explain any of it.
I hate this last part. I can’t explain, at least not at first, why I feel the way I do. I can’t even recognize it well enough to just let it go when I do things that really aren’t who I am.
I do things that make me hate myself even more, and that starts the spiral.
It’s no surprise that I feel this way right now. I’m trying to juggle family, a teaching position at church, a full-time engineering job, two graduate classes, this blog and another blog elsewhere.
It’s too much. I need to slow down.
We all need to slow down sometimes. But we have a hard time doing that when momentum is carrying us forward so fast.
It’s basic physics. An object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an equal and opposite force.
Unfortunately, we all sometimes hit the more than equal and opposing force of depression.
I know exactly what will help me feel better. Prayer and meditation, scripture study, quality time with my family, relaxation, letting go, exercise, healthy eating, and sleep.
The trouble is that I don’t want to do any of these things that I know will help.
I don’t want to open my heart to the possibility of feeling better.
It’s like my mind wants to keep me trapped here.
It’s hard and it sucks.
But I’ve faced depression before.
And sometimes the trick is just to keep going, remembering that it will end. These statements become my mantra when I feel depressed, even if they are buried deep within the hardened shell of depression:
Depression is not a personality problem, it is not your fault.
Depression is not pervasive, it is not a sign that your entire life will fall apart.
Depression is not permanent.
You will get better.
Just keep going.