On Depression and Codependence and Other Mean Bastards
My depression feels like a million tiny bruises. It hurts to raise my head. I move in slow motion because the weight of me is heavy. As usual, I’m the last one to know I’m depressed. I gradually get overwhelmed by the simplest tasks. I’m foggy and startled easily- if anyone moves fast around me, talks to me, approaches me, I jump. Including my family, who never left. But I did. I’m deep inside my hurt, and protecting my bruises.
It looks like this:
”Mom?” (Pause, coming up from deep inside myself, hearing a voice faraway)
“Mom?” (Oh, my God, they want something?! I can’t be asked to make any decisions. I start sweating. They’re going to ask me to make a judgement call on something. I am not capable. They’ll take advantage of me. They’ll bruise me more! Where’s the exit? Where’s the life raft? )
“WHAT? WHAT COULD YOU POSSIBLY WANT?”
“Oh, umm, I’m sorry, I just…”
Fuuuuucccckkkk. And now I’m slobbering all over them and apologizing because they’re scared of me and I’m a monster. I overreacted to… nothing. They have to tiptoe around me because I’m unpredictable. I don’t want to put that on them. That leaves all kinds of wet scars for adult them to have to try to heal. I hate myself more for it.
How do I offer them sanctuary when I am scared of everything, and everything feels like a threat? Relief comes in the form of more problems, because it confirms what I already feel…the terribleness of it all. Anything positive is an affront, I don’t trust it, I am suspicious.
I don’t know where to put my fear and pain and grief because it has no place in my home, where my kids are. And I don’t even really think I deserve pain and grief. It’s an inconvenience, a weakness. The tape in my head starts to play, “Really? You’re barely even working right now, you’re just a mom and look how hard you’re making that! Really? You’re not even starving right now! Do you know how many people have it harder than you! Why are you depressed? You have no right to be! You have every fucking thing in this world. Really?” I apply all those same judgements to my husband, if you’re wondering. I resent him maybe just less than I resent myself.
I want to be better, stronger, more available for my kids…but I’m wondering if the ‘being available’ is part of why I’m in such a bad place. We’re two hundred and forty-nine days straight together- all four of us- with no relief, in a small house with no locks on the doors, almost no income, and no boundaries. Not the calm, consistent, reliable ones, anyway. Sometimes walls jump up and spook them, like above, when I just can’t do it anymore, but there are almost none that they can anticipate and know to respect. I think I don’t put boundaries up around me because I think I don’t deserve them. I think I have some codependence garbage happening up in me.
They all talk at me without checking to see what I’m doing or if I’m in a place where I can focus on them- and instead of reminding them firmly that they need to respect my silence/space, I feel this flood of guilt and pull myself away from what I’m doing to focus on them, begrudgingly. They all ask me to make decisions constantly. I blame myself. Isn’t their clueless, helpless, needy state because I’ve made them that way? I’ve enabled it. I’ve positioned myself in the role of fixer, decision-maker, care-giver, so I’ve micromanaged and martyred myself into a dizzy circle. I’m stuck being needed, which is exactly what I wanted, but now I can’t handle it. Can I actually ask them to change? More importantly, can I ask myself to change?!
I can’t trust myself and I can’t trust anyone around me. I am angry, I am lost, I am only half-heartedly looking for a life raft to keep me from sinking all the way under, but when I find one, I think it judges my struggle, or I’m checking it for holes.So I’m carrying too much, being too exhausted, never pausing to let the bruises heal- and this strung out state is how I’m convinced I best love, or how I best serve? And if I’m on not loving and serving, I am nothing? Gross.
The guilty hitch behind my heart and pang in my right lower abdomen whenever I think of anyone doing more work than me, serving better, being more selfless and giving than I am, makes me scramble to stand up to be leaned on. If I’m not there to support their weight, what the hell am I good for? It’s tearing me up trying to find identity and purpose that’s not about others. It’s breaking my brain to try to be selfish and healthy just inside my own dance space. So should I stop trying? Just marinate in the familiar feelings of being load-bearing for everyone else? It feels normal and soothing to offer myself up as solver, task-manager, entertainer, healer….but it isn’t working. There’s something missing. For me and them. I’m miserable and guess what? They know! I’m gone even when I’m there.
I’ve decided to keep pushing through the uncomfortable feelings- to figure out boundaries to preserve my peace, my brain, some space for feeling it all. I think that uncomfortable sensation is unlearning the conditioning that was braided into my DNA from birth. It hurts like hell to unsplice it, but I think there’s enough value in it to push through the pain. I think I am worth it…?
SO. What am I doing to treat my depression so it doesn’t take me down too far? Well, I took myself away from the family for a few days. I’m writing this in an Airbnb close to home, in silence. I’m crying when I need to cry, because there’s no one around to worry about mom/wife being sad. I am taking my Zoloft and vitamins. I’m meditating. I’m writing. I’m getting outside. I’m stretching. I’m treating myself to long showers and not forcing anything. Just letting the feelings happen. For a few days I don’t owe anyone all of me, and when I get back, I’d like to figure out a way to preserve some of her.