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Depression, the blog post | Katie Rose Guest Pryal

:: Today, I am painfully, horribly, depressed. 

I was also depressed yesterday, and the day before. And last week. And the week before. And last month. Likely the month before, and the month before that. I don’t recall much prior because the rest is covered in fog.

When you are depressed, much is covered in fog.

When you are depressed, you—I—don’t want to write blog posts. I decided to write this blog post, though. I’m consoling myself with a statement I’m repeating over and over, this one: You can delete this tomorrow. If you hate it, if you are embarrassed, if it is a stinking pile of garbage words you can delete it whenever you want to.

When you are depressed you think everything you do is garbage.

When you are depressed it is easier to write in the second person than the first person because it’s hard to talk about yourself.

But I’ll try.

Even though I’m depressed, I’ve been telling everyone that I have the flu. That way, I don’t have to talk to people because talking to people, seeing people, is unbearable. Having the flu also gives me an excuse to lie in bed at odd hours.

At the same time, for the sake of my children, I’m getting up each morning at 6am, I’m getting dressed, even putting on make up to brighten my eyes. My eyes, they appear so dull. In fact my dedication to make up has caught the interest of both of my sons, to the point that they’ve wandered into my bathroom in curiosity to watch me do it, asking me questions about it.

I learned a new word today, one I was surprised I didn’t already know. Anhedonia. I love this word. If you took Latin, or are fascinated by words, you will see what it means: Hedonist. There’s a word you might already know.

An hedon ia. 

I’m in a state of anhedonia, my doctor told me. Where the things that used to cause me pleasure bring me no pleasure. Nothing makes me happy. Food isn’t enjoyable. Nothing is enjoyable. Things don’t make me sad necessarily. No, I’m in a state of suspended pointlessness. It’s torture.

Today, I dedicated myself to “tiny tasks.” Small wins. I didn’t try to climb any mountains. I just wanted to check some things off of my to-do list because my to-do list is so long it is making me more depressed. So, this morning, I did a thing. It was great.

So I did another thing. And it was—I cannot state this in words big enough—terrible. While doing a cursory book order, I discovered that one of the books that our press has publishes had been taken out of the catalog by our distributor. This sounds wonky and whatever, but in short what this means is that no one can purchase this book anywhere in the world.

The HELL of it is that no one at the press knew about it, and why didn’t we know about it? It’s my fault. Because I’ve been depressed. I blamed myself. I maybe should blame the distributor (whose fault it is for mistakenly killing the distribution). I blame me for not noticing sooner. I blame me for not keeping proper tabs on things. That’s my job. Big distributors make mistakes. People like me need to pay attention. And I can’t. Pay. Attention. That’s what it means to be depressed. There isn’t anything with which to make those payments.

I have no resources. I’m fresh out.

One month of sales of one of our bestselling titles. Gone. My fault.

Then: I had to call to fix it. I had to argue with a human. My resources are now in the negative. Worse, I’m still waiting on their fix to come through. The book is still in limbo. I can’t bear the thought of this problem. I want to weep.

The tiny task had become not just any mountain. It’s Everest.

I set it aside.

I took on another tiny task. A simple email newsletter. I wrote it, I kept it short and lovely. I proofed it. I sent to our press’s entire email list. And then, when I received it, there was an ugly awful typo that I missed. So awful. So ugly. I couldn’t even bear it.

I still can’t bear it. The thought of that typo. I only had the one small job to do. And I couldn’t even do that right.

I’m a failure at everything I touch. I can’t fix big problems. I can’t fix small ones. I can’t even write a proper blog post—as I proofread this one, it sounds so stupid and terrible. I resisting deleting it. I’m resisting, but it is so hard.

After the newsletter, I speak to my doctor. She’s worried. So she prescribed medicine to help. I walk to the pharmacy to pick it up. I walk home. Except when I get home, my car isn’t there. I didn’t walk to the pharmacy. I drove. And then I forgot my car at the pharmacy.

My brain isn’t working. I’ve accepted that.

Honestly, I can’t explain to you how much my brain isn’t working except to tell you this story, the story about how during the short trip to the pharmacy to pick up medicine to help me stop being depressed I completely forgot that I had an automobile.

And then, when I arrived home, and realized I forgot it, and didn’t have the energy to go back and get it. I left it there for the rest of the day. I called my husband crying. I told him about the book being killed from distribution. I told him about the typo. I told him about my car. I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t know how I would go on.

The worst part is that I know how ridiculous all of this sounds. That’s why this is so hard. I know. I know. I know. This isn’t the first time I’ve been depressed. I’m 42 years old. I have bipolar disorder. I’ve been depressed many times. And every time, it’s so horrible. Every time, when my husband hugs me, wrapping me in our bedspread and squeezing the tears out like I’m a lemon, I wonder why he stays with me year after year, when he knows that days (weeks. months.) like this will always come again.

I’m writing this blog post anyway even though I know it is self-indulgent, and boring, and embarrassing, and garbage. Even though I sound weak and sad and pathetic. I’m going to write it, and I’m going to share it.

Because if you’re out there, and you are like me, in pain so much pain, and the sun makes you cry instead of making you feel warm, and food tastes like sawdust, and you always shake with chills no matter how much you bundle up or how many covers you put on your bed, and everything you touch just rots—I want you to know I feel that way too, despite what I look like on the outside.

If all we show is a glossy surface, then we all suffer even more. My surface might seem glossy, but it isn’t real. This is what’s real. I’m depressed, and it hurts.

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(c) 2017

If you enjoyed this piece, you will enjoy my book, LIFE OF THE MIND INTERRUPTED: ESSAYS ON MENTAL HEALTH AND DISABILITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION, available at lifeofthemindinterrupted.com. Buying my books is a great way to support the online writing that I do for free.

Thank you.

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