Sometimes when one experiences a health issue, or a mental health issue, they can feel as if they are “marked” for life. It’s kind of like a scarlet letter, but instead of an “A” for adultery, in my case it is a “D” for depression. Sometimes the person who marks us most is ourselves.
I have had a couple of emotional days recently and it’s perfectly understandable considering my current circumstance. Any single mom who has recently found themselves in need of a new job and missing her children who have been away for a while might be prone to feeling emotional. Any parent who is facing a bit of financial hardship and dealing with the over-all stress of the quickly approaching school year might feel themselves a bit more anxious than usual. So, truly, it’s not a surprise that I have a been a bit teary-eyed and sad the last couple of days.
What is different is how my family, friends and even myself react when I experience a couple of days in a row where I am a bit emotional and sad. And that, is understandable, too.
Because of my past experience with chronic depression I find myself to get a bit overly concerned if I have a couple of bad days in a row. In the back of my mind I wonder…”Is this the start of an episode of depression? Will I bounce back from this quickly?” and I also ask myself questions like, “What do I need to do right now to safeguard myself from falling into a depressive state?” It’s healthy to be aware and alert, but I can also sense some fear and panic in myself at the thought.
My friends and loved ones may find themselves calling me more often or worrying a bit more about my well-being. And truth be told, it helps. (And yet, it occasionally annoys me, but I will gladly take the concern over none at all!) Even though I may not always answer the phone it means a WHOLE lot to me to hear from people who care from me, especially in times when I could be susceptible to depression. These people are part of my army, my arsenal, to fight back. They help me build my defense and keep it strong. The value of knowing I am cared about is more than anything else I can think of during a time like what I am currently experiencing.
Today, I wanted to spend the whole day in bed… I wanted to just lay there and feel sad. Truly, I was just sad today. (Don’t we all have sad days?) But I chose to use all the strength I could muster to do a little laundry, unload the dishwasher, shower and get prettied up, then take myself to the bookstore and to a movie. And it wasn’t all bad, in fact, I had a few laughs at the movie and that was priceless. I knew I must get out and I knew that I could not wear that big “D” on my chest or around my neck or I would be too vulnerable to that potential of experiencing depression.
Sometimes that mark is a good warning, sometimes it can be bothersome. Sometimes it can impede our progress or limit our opportunities (if we are being judged by someone else or even ourselves because of it) but mostly, when I choose to think positively on it, it serves me well as a reminder to take care of myself. And for that, I am grateful. Perhaps being marked isn’t all bad.