I started feeling “It” a couple of weeks ago. I thought “It” was a cold. I went from feeling tired to weary. There were weird dreams and the muscles under my eyes had gone slack. I had been around some folks with nasty colds so I figured it was my turn. On Halloween weekend I got two, 12-hour nights of sleep. I felt better.
But something still dogged me and “It” was not a cold. I have this feeling deep down inside of me that I have done something wrong. I have not been working hard enough. I am not a good friend. Back in my drinking days, this feeling would have been perfectly normal and justified. I was a blackout drinker and spent countless hungover hours trying to piece together what I had done the night before with just a few snippets of memory and evidence. But I haven’t had a drink in over 13 years.
I have been bouncing up and down that last couple of weeks. Pretty happy and grateful much of the time, until I regurgitated that icky shame every now and then. But I am beginning to spend more time down than up. This morning was bad. It was a perfectly lovely fall morning in Florida – partly sunny, 67-degrees, slight wind out of the north.
I rode my bike to the park with my dog, “Dog,” like I do every morning. But everything looked and felt thick and heavy. Exactly 24-hours earlier I made the same ride and was feeling wonderful. Nothing had much changed since then. I still hadn’t dusted or vacuumed and the grass needed cutting.
This is my depression. This is how it works. It comes in little waves at first. Ebb and flow. Ebb and flow. Then the big rollers come in, followed by the breakers and finally the tsunami. Game over.
On days when I feel fine, when the water is perfectly still, my depression doesn’t cross my mind – even while I am opening up my prescription bottles to take my meds. Same for my alcoholism. Most days I don’t even think about a Corona with lime. But the seas can turn rough very, very quickly for no apparent reason other than some phantom, icky shame.
So, I tell myself: “You are not a bad person. You haven’t done anything wrong. You are not a bad person. You haven’t done anything wrong.” Over and over and over and over and over and over and over…
Because, you know, I am really not a bad person and I really haven’t done anything wrong.