Life With Depression, An Open Letter to My Pillow, Blanket and Couch
We’ve been together for a long time now and I just wanted to say aloud the things I’ve held in my heart about you. Pillow, you comfort me when nothing else will bring me relaxation. Cradling my restless head, you bring me the escape of sleep. You silence the cacophony of the outside world when I pull you over my ears. You give me something to hug when I’m feeling alone. Blanket, you cover and protect me when the world is bearing down on me. When I feel like I can’t escape, I can wrap myself in you to keep the demons away. When the sunlight is too bright and reminding me of everything I am missing outside, I can pull you over my head and find quiet sanctuary. And Couch, quite simply, you are the singular point in the universe where I can always feel safe.
A little silly? Probably. Corny? Definitely. Overstated? Absolutely not. Living with depression might look a lot like lying around the house all day, but someone affected by this disorder is being anything but lazy.
Looking in from the outside at a person with depression, we could mistakenly think we were looking at an uninspired, unhygienic lump of a human being. But doing so would a rash rush to judgment.
So then, let’s look at some of the reasons why a person with depression might need to lay on the couch all day, perhaps for several days.
Sleeping at night is not always restful. Many times, anxiety is a silent partner with depression. This can make going to sleep a nightmare. Racing thoughts and fears, sweats and trouble breathing are just some of the symptoms one might experience with anxiety. Any of them alone would make rest difficult. Put them together, and sleep’s just not going to happen. Many people have bad dreams that go along with their depression, again making a restful night difficult to find.
Battling depression is an internal process. What looks like a person at rest might just be a person waging war within themselves. Telling them things like, “You just need a positive attitude,” “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps,” or “It’s really not that bad,” are just going to make things worse. This person might be using every ounce of their energy to convince themselves to have something to eat – to do something good for themselves, and statements like these just minimize those efforts.
A person with depression is fighting for their own identity. In severe cases, that person’s very existence can be at stake. What a person feels they can or cannot do changes often and has enormous consequence in constructing that person’s sense of value and self. It might take someone with depression hours to decide they are worthy of taking a shower, and the rest of that day’s decisions might hinge on how successfully that first battle goes. People with depression can have such low opinions of themselves that seemingly simple tasks are in fact for that person, monumental.
Good days can be exhausting in their own right. People with depression put more energy into good days than most people do. They have to do a lot of behind-the-scenes work to even show up for any day, but on a good day, they have to manage the excitement and anxiety of doing the things they enjoy. They could be always looking over their shoulder, waiting for that crash to come. At the same time, they’re like a giddy child getting what they wanted for the day. That excitement takes energy, and they need time to recharge.
Sometimes, a person with depression needs a place to hide. When their demons are scratching at the inside of their skull while they grab at their own crawling skin; when people’s voices grate against every grain of their being; when they’ve been strong, but need a place to break down, a person with depression just needs somewhere safe and familiar to go. That comfortable place can be a refuge from many of life’s storms.
People need a place where they can just be. Being is something they’re struggling with right now. They have all these twisted thoughts and fractured feelings in their head. They have lost themselves. A person with depression is certainly not who they used to be. Pictures hang in their mind of what they’d like to be. But they are most certainly not there yet. Being is a frightening event that they have to live though daily. They’re a roulette ball of change, skimming and hopping around the spinning wheel of their self. They don’t know where they’re going to land each morning when they wake. They’re allowed to be whoever they are at that moment in time and in that point in space. With no snap judgments. No unsolicited advice. No pithy words of encouragement.
So, thank you Pillow, Blanket and Couch. You accept me and all of my flaws even quicker than I do. You hold me warm and tight for unending hours. You smell familiar and you fit me perfectly. You are my calm in the storm. You are my safe place when no else will do.
Jason has been suffering from depression and anxiety for over twenty years and has extensive personal knowledge of the subjects. If you wish, you can contact him via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jason.large.12?fref=nf