Under the Weather

If you’re tired of me complaining about the weather, I can promise this post isn’t just about that. Instead I’m going to use it as a fancy metaphor for depression in an artsy attempt to complain about the weather.

The fact is this winter has been brutal already. We have about 18 inches of snow right now, are already around 80 inches this year and they’re predicting another storm this weekend. We had four days in January with no snow and haven’t been above freezing in weeks. And it’s only February.

Needless to say, FTW.

Aside from the actual cold, I struggle with a commute that gets complicated and dangerous, keeping my driveway and car clean when there’s nowhere else to throw the snow, worrying about the impact of the weather on my house, the increased bills, etc.

And more than ever before, the weather has upped my depression. Well, I’m blaming it on the weather, but in reality that could be a coincidence seeing as it’s been just as relentless for years.

But much like the weight of this winter, lately it’s crushing me down.

The OCD, the exercise, the hopelessness—it’s come to a point where I wonder when I’ll break, either physically or mentally, and yet I keep  testing those limits. I keep waiting for some event so significant in my mind that I’ll feel compelled to change, that the cloak of depression and obsession will fade and voila! The metaphorical sun will melt the snow and everything will become sun-shiny great!

But of course, that’s just magical thinking.

So instead I fight myself from both sides—the terrifyingly powerful disorder that wants me to cling to it and the part that wants to live a life without it. Finding a balance between the two might seem like having the best of both worlds —Yay! I’m a semi-functioning person balancing disorders and depression, well done!— but we know that’s not the case.

Because while everyone has heard how things have to get worse before getting better, what it doesn’t say is that you should make things worse before they magically, somehow get “better.”

So for the first time in years I actually went to a therapist.

It’s early, but so far she “gets” me. She’s a vegan holistic yoga teacher and I want to move into her office, but I think that violates some kind of ethical code. Anyway, much like dealing with winter, therapy is a lot of work. It’s exhausting. It’s expensive. It’s not fun.

But eventually you just reach that point—breakdown again or breakthrough?—and that’s where I am right now. I don’t feel like I’m really “me,” and even more scary, I’m not sure who that “me” is anymore but I owe it to myself to find out.

Now you’re probably wondering a) why I’m sharing this with you and b) when I’ll shut up. Frankly, I wonder that, too. I mean, how do you respond to this as a reader? What good does it do to ramble on about this when I would rather put up something funny?

Part of it is healing for me, getting it out there and telling someone. Part of it is that social stigma (and pride) often prevents many people from discussing these things. However, I do it anyway because maybe reading that I feel this way will help someone to feel less alone — or at least ridiculously sane in comparison.

So to wrap this all up and come back to that meteorological metaphor, I’ll say I have no control over weather, but I have faith that spring will eventually come. The sun will shine, the gray and desolate cold will recede and we’ll start to dig out of this hole.

healing

I’m ready to dig out of this hole.

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38 responses to “Under the Weather

  1. Wow, I’m the first commenter. It’s funny how someone with chronic depression can write humor—but I do it too. I don’t battle OCD, but maybe acute laziness? As a result of the depression. Unfortunately, there IS a certain stigma. I have a fairly new friend who I know will grow into a great friend, but I haven’t told her about my depression yet. Too much to dump on a person so soon. Who wants to be around a “downer?” The fact is, more people suffer from depression than we’d ever imagine. I’m glad you’re getting it “out there” and for encouraging us all that we’re not alone in our struggles. And glad you’re seeing a therapist. You do owe it to yourself. And I thank God every day for my medicine.

    Maybe you owe it to yourself to move to the beautiful South too! ANYBODY would be depressed living with that much snow!

    “I keep waiting for some event so significant in my mind that I’ll feel compelled to change.” — I totally understand that! Good luck Abby. Love your writing!

    • Oh yes. I write about the depression/OCD crap more than I would like to, but I always feel a bit inauthentic if I keep it all to myself. I probably overshare, but I also don’t share everything. There’s a fine line, I suppose.

  2. I know you have the strength in you to do the work needed to get through these tough times. It won’t be easy, but you have the motivation and the will to change, and that’s what you need right now (on top of a snow blower). I hope the sun starts to peek through soon-metaphorically and literally. Hang in there!!

  3. I love when you share, because you’re not alone. I know so many people who are in a bad place right now with depression, anxiety, and OCD. Stuff like this makes people feel connected, amidst the worry that they are disconnected. And you know I’m cheering for you, right? Always.

  4. Therapy IS a lot of work, but I’m proud of you for doing it. I know all too well how rotten winter can be and she’s been a bitch to you this year. xo

  5. I’m sorry to read this and thrilled at the same time, Abby – I know exactly what you mean about clinging to it, and it wanting you to cling to it. I’m so happy to hear you’ve found a therapist you connect with. That’s huge, and not easy. Here’s to bringing spring to yourself. You deserve it, friend.

  6. You brought a tear to my eye with this much honesty.Why? Because I so get you. I so understand what you are saying.But you are more courageous than most of us because you put it out there, get it out of your chest and with a lot of humor as well.Well done.

  7. Good for you, Abby. That first step is always the toughest, and I fought it for many years until an event finally pushed me over the edge of “yeah, I need help.” Bad to have to be in that place, but good to finally get the help you need. I did it and got through and am actually to the point now where I discontinued the therapy because I’m “all better.” Not really, obviously, but I felt like she helped get me to the point where I could successfully deal with my own shit and not need someone to hold my hand. That’s really the best we can hope for, right? Good luck on your journey. And no, you are definitely NOT alone.

  8. I too am a magical thinker. Never thought of it that way but it’s true. I hope that the therapy works and that you continue to share here. You do offer others (ok, me) a safe place to feel “not alone”, as it were.

  9. “…how do you respond to this as a reader?” I think you have your answer in the comments that have already been posted. Your readers love you! Whether you’re writing a funny post or a more serious post, you’re still you. And as I’ve said many times, writing can be cathartic. Sharing your battle with depression helps not only you but also those of your readers who are also struggling with it. We’re all rooting for you.

  10. I say hurray for you for courageous posting, for helping others feel less isolated and for trying to find positives. You may never know how much you’ve helped someone else, but I’m pretty sure you have.

  11. Amen sista (she says staring into her SAD lamp, chewing her Vitamin D and lining up her pills. FYI – therapists don’t like it if you move into their office, but they do give a good hug. Which while temporary.. can sometimes just made the day worthwhile.

  12. Abby, thank you. I am reading this at the absolute right moment. My toughest battle with depression “lasted” 2 years (2007-2009), and even though I have declared the big battle won, the greater war continues for me. The last 4 years have been filled with ups and downs, I know this will be a lifelong battle, but it’s so much better than where I was at my worst. I do believe my peaks & valleys will continue to lessen, as will yours.

    Your entry today comes as a breath if fresh air for me as yesterday was particularly cloudy for me, and sometimes just hearing I’m not alone makes all the difference in the world.

    You’re not alone.

  13. Abby, I love your writing and it’s rawness, the fact you don’t bamboozle me with too many big words makes it easy to relate :) Keep on being your wonderful self and sharing the love. No need to feel insecure about this post at all, but I know what you mean. Writing about your stuff and putting it out there in cyber space is a great therapy in itself (even if you’re like me and got kicked out of high school and ain’t too good with the grammar & spelling :P) I think you’re brilliant! **Virtual high fives to you sister!**.

  14. Thank you Abby- I so appreciate your humor! It helps me laugh at the depression monster! You are amazing- May blessings abound!

  15. Depression is the toughest battle I have faced. It runs in my family. I have a great partner that snaps me out of my funk but sometimes it is not that easy. There are times when I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel then something really crappy happens to set me back. I have found an outlet in writing and have written several blogs. Kudos to you for being willing to discuss this monster openly!

    • Thank you for reading! And as I’ve mentioned before, there doesn’t have to be a “thing” that happens, as you know. Sometimes I wish there was as it would be easier to avoid those triggers, but alas, sometimes it just hits you anyway. I’m glad you also find writing so helpful. For me, it’s truly a lifesaver!

  16. Behind my 25 years plus career at a community mental health center is a lifetime spent dealing with serious mental health issues, both personal and professional. As other have said, so many of us relate to your post and are wishing you well on your journey. If I have learned nothing else, I’ve learned that the key to success is hope. Hope for this minute to move to the next, this day to lead to a better tomorrow, this week to begin a month of stability. No matter how you feel in this moment as long as you keep hope you will survive. Abby you pass hope to us in every post. I am sure we all enjoy your witty musings, but I also appreciate your more serious pieces as they always have a powerful message for those interested in listening. Thank you for sharing and for allowing us to explore the more serious side of life.

    • And thank you for sharing such an articulate and thoughtful comment, as this is just what I needed to hear. Yes, hope is key with anything. As long as you have a tiny shred of that left, it’s enough to keep you going until you find the next tiny little shred…and I promise funny-ish things in my next post ;)

  17. Good metaphor. I am really getting tired of winter and I definitely think it is effecting my depression as well. Today I literally almost burst into tears when I thought that the TV was broken. I was like “I CAN’T TAKE THE TV BEING BROKEN OH MY GOD!” But it wasn’t broken. So we watched Bachelor. And Juan Pablo slept with someone. But I digress…

  18. Is there ANYONE out there who does not or has not battled depression? Honestly. As a person who employed magical thinking for four years, don’t worry about a breakdown again, they are the breakthroughs.

    • I think there’s a difference between mild depression that comes and goes and serious clinical depression, so yes, I think everyone can probably relate on some level.

  19. I’m so glad you posted this. I needed to read it.

    Fuck winter. For reals.

  20. “So instead I fight myself from both sides—the terrifyingly powerful disorder that wants me to cling to it and the part that wants to live a life without it.” — I completely understand. And that’s a very difficult place to be and a horrible way to feel.

    Also, I’ve been considering seeing a therapist too. However, I’ve had some not so great experiences with them in the past. So I am still on the fence.

    I’m thrilled to hear your therapist “gets you” – that’s so important, because you really need to be able to trust the therapist to be able to do the work.

    “Part of it is healing for me, getting it out there and telling someone. Part of it is that social stigma (and pride) often prevents many people from discussing these things. However, I do it anyway because maybe reading that I feel this way will help someone to feel less alone — or at least ridiculously sane in comparison.”

    Yes, when I post not-so-funny things, I do it for the very same reasons. It takes away the power over me – and hopefully- it helps someone else too.

    Big. Fat. Hugs.

    • I know you get it and I can only say that I’ve had bad experiences in the past with therapists as well. It’s early with this one and knowing me I’ll bail too soon–as I often do with things that would most likely benefit me–but she’s given me a small ray of hope.

      I like reading everything from you, as your spirit is always upbeat, even when things are in the crapper.

  21. Thanks, I too ‘feel less alone’ for reading this. When I’m not in ‘Depression’ mode, I’m anxious about when it’s going to hit me again. But what I always try to remember is – ‘The Sun will come out…tommorow..’ – If I say this everyday…then one of these tomorrows it will come true!

  22. I’m glad you shared it with us, and I really do hope it makes a difference. Wherever you are in the world at the moment, the weather seems to have gone a bit crackers. As I look out of my rattling window, there is an impressive gale blowing, and flooding is blighting the lives of many omy my countrymen

  23. As someone who has struggled with depression and taken anti-depressants, I’m really glad that you shared this and that you are seeking help. While you are a unique person with unique issues, many people go through depression and need help; you are not alone. There is nothing to be ashamed of – even though I know it’s easy to feel that way. So good job taking these steps. :)

    And my neck of the woods has not received even close to the amount of snow you have, but it was 50 degrees (money, money, money) in my house last night so I feel like I’m a kindred spirit.

  24. Oh no Abby, there is indeed a big difference between mild depression and clinical depression I do not mean to minimize it. I personally think a lot more people battle clinical depression that let on, hence your bravery in taking it on. BTW I smile every time I see the ! at the end of Buy the books!

  25. The winter certainly can be a major drag. I also feel the weight of it both physically and mentally. Your therapist sounds really cool. Best of luck on that.

  26. Last year, at 39 years old, I went to a psychiatrist for the first time in my life. Since I was 11 I have batttled a raging eating disorder, anxiety and OCD. If only I had read blogs like yours years ago, I may have sought help much sooner. For me it took a long time to get over the stigma of seeing a therapist. Once I did, things got better. Thanks for your candor.

    • It sounds like we have a lot in common, although I’ve never really shied away from the “stigma” part of things. It’s more like a self-sabotage for me at times. Sigh. But I appreciate the comment a lot and wish you luck in your own journey!

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