When It's More Than Just the Winter Blues
By Monique Vitche
I’m in the bathroom at the Crossroads house - the name for my group of friends who live together - and I’m sitting, balled up on the floor crying for the second time in a row. I’m fairly certain my one friend who is out in the living room playing video games has figured out that I’m using the room for its intended purpose.
“These are just crocodile tears,” I can hear almost clearly, cutting through my cries like a knife. I cry harder, but still as quietly as possible. It seems silly but I don’t want to draw attention to myself, even though my bloodshot eyes and blotchy face is going to give me away the second I run into someone. I feel ashamed for crying. Over the last few months whenever I would cry, which was often, I would feel shame. I never knew if it was a genuine emotion or not.
I had only been at the Crossroads for a few days, but it felt like a lifetime had passed. The days both seemed to drag on and pass by at lightning speed. I couldn’t tell you what the date was if my life depended on it.
Not that I cared much about my life at that point in time, anyways. It would be a few weeks later, December 30, where I would spend an hour out in the cold on the phone being talked down from being actively suicidal.
It’s been about two months or so, probably more, since I fell deep into my depressive episode. I wish I could say that everything is fine now and I no longer feel as depressed, but that would be a lie and I’m trying not to lie so much these days. I do my best to keep up appearances in public places mainly because I have to (it’s a little awkward if I were to just break down crying in the middle of the work day), but it’s nights like the ones where I realize how truly alone I have become that are the hardest for me to keep it all together.
This has been a period of adjustment for me, and I don’t adjust well to change. I can recall a number of times where I went through Big Changes and the results were...not what I expected them to be. When I first moved out of my parents’ house, when I got engaged, when I became gainfully employed again after eight months of being laid off… you get the picture. These are all good things, but because I have a hard time adjusting to change, it felt a lot harder to be genuinely happy all the time with the good fortune around me.
Couple that inability to adjust properly with the passing of my grandmother - a big force in my life - and you have a recipe for disaster. Talk about a big change.
I don’t think I ever really have gotten through the five stages of grief yet. I think I am still stuck on the ‘be in denial and really depressed’ part. With most things in my life that have ended, I tend to stay stuck in that part of grieving for a long time. In some cases it has taken me years to get past that point and towards healing.
I have not been sleeping very well. I haven’t been able to write anything substantive for months, until now (and even now this feels more like a word vomit session than a legitimate first person narrative). My diet has gotten bad. Remember that one article I wrote where I said I lost about 15 pounds in the last months? Well, I gained it all back, plus five more pounds. When I am depressed I am either eating constantly, or food repulses me. Looking back, I realize that that 15-pound loss was also the result of me being in a depressive episode.
I tried reaching out to my doctor. He told me to take a multivitamin. A serious suggestion from a legitimate medical professional. Well, hot damn, I have been taking a multivitamin every day for the last year. I guess I am cured of my depression now!
I tried reaching out to some family members, but they didn’t take my cries (figurative and literal) seriously and, in some instances, made things a lot worse. Which brings me back to December 30, 2018.
I had been visiting someone who was in town for the holidays, and I tried to keep up my usual appearances, but I let my intentions slip over the phone to their family member who I am also close with, which led to me spending an hour on the phone with them. The reason I was out in the cold was because I didn’t want anyone to hear my conversation.
I don’t know when or if I will come out of this depressive episode. I have been seeing a new therapist, and it’s sort of been helping but I feel kind of stuck. There are certain factors in my life that I feel are being prohibitive in my recovery and healing, but I’m not sure what to do about them because it’s genuinely out of my control. I just wish I had someone regularly by my side when the times get tough and I feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
Maybe one day I will have that again. Until then, I just have to hope the batteries in this flashlight I carry through the darkness don’t die on me.
*If you or someone you love is experiencing depressive thoughts or thoughts of harming themselves, please seek professional help from your local psychologist or social worker or call 1-800-273-8255.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255