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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Warriors of The Beast

The BeastOne of the first times I ever read something about depression that made me sit up and say, “Yes.  YES!  That!” was when an online acquaintance and journaler (oh, the days before blogging!) wrote about her experience with chronic depression.  She wrote about how her beloved pet died and how it made her sad and how that was a pretty normal and expected response.  If one experiences loss, one will likely be sad about it.  But then she got really, really sad.  And stayed sad.  She stopped caring about the things she used to care about.  She stopped feeling like she had the energy to care.  She stopped going to work.  Eventually, she stopped having the energy to care for herself at all.  A sort of light bulb went off in her head (dimmed though it may have been by The Beast) and she realized, “This isn’t about my dog dying, anymore.”

Well, reading this written by my friend was another, “Yes… yes THIS…” read.  This read was especially important to me because it came from the outside looking in - a perspective I rarely am allowed insight into.  I know what it’s like to feel so drained that getting up to pee feels overwhelming.  I don’t know what it’s like to watch it.  Pooka (the friend who wrote that entry) knows what it’s like to be on the “other side”... watching The Beast tear apart someone he loves and doing his damnedest to make sense of it and make things right.

At any rate, it really made me realize why depression is so lethal.  Just like my friend and her beloved dog - depression isn’t a car wreck.  It isn’t a football injury.  It isn’t a stab to the neck.  The Beast is quiet and stealthy and sneaky.  The Beast lies by telling us we’re wrong when we’re right and we’re justified in our hurt when, well, maybe we’re notsomuch.  The Beast is as fine a hunter as any, because it drains us slowly but surely so that in the end, the often times fatal blow comes without warning and without any sort of recourse.  When it’s too late, it’s too late.

For those of us who are wrestling with The Beast, we don’t even realize we’re in a battle until we’re too drained to really fight.  I find myself angry and resentful “after the fact” when I’ve (for the time being) put The Beast at bay and someone will say, “Well why did you let it get so bad?”  Because, you know, clearly I chose to be miserable.  Seriously??  I hadn’t realized how hard it can be for caregivers, though.  Reading Pooka’s writing, I can’t help but be smacked in the face with how difficult it is to be on that end of things “after the fact”, too.  How many people ask a caregiver (parent, spouse, friend, lover, sibling, adult child, etc.) “Why didn’t you DO something?”  or the same question those of us battling the beast get asked, “Why didn’t you just DO something?” 

The fact is, it’s not that simple.  I don’t know what it’s like to be married with someone who wrestles with depression, but I imagine it goes something like this:  your spouse starts to be a little less sparkly and while the shine isn’t as bright, you just figure that like the moon, we all wax and wane.  Maybe that light gets a little bit brighter, but then fades again, but you’re not quite sure.  Is it your imagination?  Is the light really that faded?  And then, like a baby growing into a toddler, you look back on an old photo, or remember a time, weeks, or months past where things truly were brighter and you wonder… is this going to continue?  Should I worry?  And maybe you’re brave and you say something, only to be rebuffed with something akin to, “Well maybe if you’d ____ more (or less)!”  Suddenly it’s your fault that your lover is slipping down this slippery slope. 

Because, The Beast is lying to your spouse, telling your spouse that if only… if only other people would support him or her, if only other people were more understanding, if only other people loved him or her enough, then the light would come again.  So your lover whispers or yells or cries out those same lies to you, you who are only trying to reach into the darkness and pull your sweetness out from the murk! 

And maybe you believe that, and then The Beast starts to lie to you, too.  Maybe you start to become the victim of The Beast, too.

Or maybe you don’t believe it and you find yourself angry and resentful.  And the more angry you get, the more resentful you get because how could your spouse do this to you?  If S/he loved you then s/he wouldn’t treat you this way, right?  And that anger stems from a place of helpless and hopelessness, but instead of giving in, you fight back.  Anger is a great tool for fighting back.  So maybe you fight with your spouse, try to get him or her angry, so s/he will fight The Beast.  But it never works.  The Beast smugly pats your spouse on the back and says, “See?  S/he doesn’t really love you or s/he would take care of you instead of hurting you more!”

More time passes.  More life bleeds out of your loved one.  You start to realize that, holy crap, things are not ok.  They’re not getting better.  But you’re scared to fight and you’re scared to coax and you’re scared to bribe and you’re scared to push, because everything you’ve tired only shoves this precious person deeper into the quicksand.  So maybe you freeze up and you do nothing.  Or maybe you pretend in your head that it isn’t as bad as it is.  Or maybe you hope someone else more qualified - a friend, a parent, a sibling, a child, a doctor, a priest, a neighbor - ANYONE! - will step in and do what you haven’t been able to do.  Maybe you complain to your friends about how bad it is for you, or maybe you keep silent.  Maybe you ask your love, “What can I do, please just tell me!”  Or maybe you don’t, because, well, if s/he knew, s/he’d have already told you, right?

And by the time you’re at this place, things are so out of control, how do you talk about it?  How do you bring it up?  If you ask for help now, people will just say, “Why didn’t you do something before now?”  You’re at fault, obviously, because you should have somehow known better, right?

And this doesn’t even touch on the deep shame.  You don’t want to say anything to embarrass or shame your special, fragile, loved person.  You don’t want him or her to feel worse than s/he already does.  And, whether you want to analyze it or not, you don’t want the embarrassment or shame.  Because, well, like The Beast likes to whisper, “If you were a better person, s/he wouldn’t feel so bad.  It’s your fault s/he isn’t happier.”  You’re a failure.  You haven’t been good enough to fight The Beast off.  What kind of person are you to let this happen??

It’s all lies.  The Beast LIES.  We know this, logically, but our fears, our anxiety, our darkest places where The Beast thrives…. from there come the eternal echoes that make it so hard to take action and to move forward.  Because what if you’re wrong?  What if whatever you do is wrong and you cause more damage than help??

There are ways to help someone who’s battling The Beast - lots of ways.  The main one has to do with shining light wherever you can.  It may seem too dim at first to do much good, but the more light you bring, the more hope there is.  Light brings hope.  Light brings color.  Light brings Truth.  Light frightens The Beast and uncovers its horrible, terrible lies.  Light brings warmth.  Light brings strength. 

Whatever you do, don’t give up.  Sometimes life is just too big for one person to handle.  It usually is, actually.  For that matter, sometimes it’s too much for even two people as a team to handle.  But that doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel.  It just means taking inventory and doing your best to find more resources, including reaching out to thsoe around you.

Depression is generally just a way for a person’s insides to say, “Woah.  This is too much.  My batteries are dead and I need them recharged.”  I don’t mean a nap.  I don’t mean a nice, healthy meal.  I mean a full on, full blown recharge that may take weeks - or months.  It may take intensive therapy or meds.  It may take a total reboot of how life was being lived.  Basically, it means resources are depleted all around and somewhere along the line, we’ve overdrawn the accounts.  In essence?  We’re out of fucking spoons.  (Physically, emotionally… mentally…) 

But just cos we’re out of spoons doesn’t mean we’ve stopped loving you.  It doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate you.  It may mean we can’t appreciate you, anymore than you can magically deposit spoons into our bank.  It doesn’t mean we have chosen to give up, but it may mean we can’t see another way and we need someone else to show us.  It doesn’t mean we’re weak or cowardly.  It just means we’re losing the battle with The Beast and need someone to pick up a sword and have our back and fight as ferociously as we have been fighting - until we couldn’t anymore.

I’m blessed.  I’ve had a lot of warriors at my back over the years:  my grandma, TDO, Andrea, Firewalk, Pooka (and his lovely bride), Scott, Sarah, Libby, Mr. Kennedy, my kids, Aimee, Toni… the list goes on and on and on.  I’m glad I haven’t had to fight The Beast alone.  And even though I feel certain I felt alone in the heat of those battles, coming out the other side, I can see clearly the people who stood up for me and protected me.

Thank you all.

Posted by Liberty on 11/26 at 02:47 AM
Posted under: See-Through

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Pooka Pooka  at  11/30/13 06:58 AM

You’re never alone. Never really alone.

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