Feb 18, 2008

Getting Well

Depression runs in my family. But I didn't know this until a few years ago. I knew well what someone who felt sad and absent looked like. But I never knew it as an illness. And I'm still not sure if I see it as such. What I do know is that struggling with depression means seeing life through a pair of distortion goggles. The intensity of distortion varies from day to day, and from person to person. But as long as the goggles are on, clarity is compromised.

I've always been afraid of depression, as much as I've loathed it and been ashamed of it. It's like an evil alien that takes over your body, devours all your positive energy and then shits inside you. And all you're stuck with is the remaining filth. Sometimes, it stays in you for so long that you become used to it. The smell. The texture. You even begin to smear it on yourself.

I finally admitted to myself (really admitted) that I've been smearing shit all over me for a while now. It happened so gradually that I didn't even notice. I've made so many excuses for how I've been feeling. I've blamed it on anything and everything external to me. Namely, my breakup. Which triggered just about every trauma I'd buried in me long ago. My denial became so hardcore that I stopped noticing how deep I was going. And I've been going about my everyday, functioning, trying to be ok. Some days things are good. Even really good. But the goggles haven't come off. They've been there the whole time.

In my culture we eat our sorrows. We don't show weakness. Life is tough and we need to swim, because sinking is never an option. Western medical models are unfamiliar to most and they conflict with traditional ways of dealing with mental health. And those traditional ways have become lost in the whirlwind of global capitalism, hardcore westernization, and a history of colonization/imperialism. Yeah, it's complicated. But people are struggling with depression. Both there and in the diasporas. And where do they turn to for support? How do all the young women, the young men, the older people...how do they (we) deal with personal traumas? All kinds of traumas. Exile, poverty, abandonment, racism, abuse, misogyny, war...

I'm writing this scared shitless. Of being judged. Of exposing "weakness." Of not being the "strong" image I present to most people. But I need to be real. I want clarity. And sharing this with you makes things a bit realer, clearer.

Sinking is never an option. But neither is eating your traumas.
Silence is destructive.

I will no longer swallow my words.


Blogger Lin said...

reading this it would never occur to me that you are scared shitless, of being judged, of exposing weakness. just the opposite - i think you are incredibly strong and have a ton of courage. why are we so afraid like this in our heads, when the reality is completely different? thank you for writing this, for being strong, real, and for being you.

1:59 PM  
Blogger pomegranate queen said...

hey lin,

thanks. :)

in terms of the part about "being scared shitless" - it was important for me to show/recognize that there's a lot of strength in admitting to insecurities. ultimately i'm not that scared if i'm sharing this with people. but the reality is i feel both strong and scared at the same time...about a lot of things, this situation being one. i'm realizing just how possible it is to feel the two and be ok with it. :)

being real with oneself is the hugest sign of strength. and i say this with no hesitation.

2:31 AM  
Blogger Tigera Consciente said...

Pom Queen,
You're not alone. I'm in a funk and just decided to slow down, stop, and realize. I think two coping mechanisms for me are keeping it busy and moving and eating. My mother is also in a major funk after leaving a 39 year marriage with my abusive dad. She's got serious post-tramautic stress syndrome, and her coping mechanism is also to go,go,go...

I think what you're doing is good: facing the issue and reflecting on it. Try to get to the root of it, and start healing from there. I've found that its the scariest thing to face that tends to be the root of depression.

I've been told that exercise helps the good and happy chemicals/hormones in your body reproduce themselves. The challenging part is starting it and being consistent with it. I'm figuring this out myself.

So point being- you're not alone. Thanks for putting it out there and being honest about your experience. I'll be in solidarity with you on this..

11:50 AM  
Blogger Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi PQ,

When you write about this you are not only helping yourself you are helping others as well.

I suffer through depression and agoraphobia/ social phobia. They are a pretty potent one - two punch.

Over the years I have come to terms with dealing with it. Mainly I have realized that I'm not the only one and these maladies are not my fault.

Thanks for sharing this.


12:41 PM  
Blogger pomegranate queen said...

thanks for saying what's going on with you. ever since this post and just talking to loved ones about this, i'm realizing how many others are going through similar shit. i was telling a friend how we need to talk about these things to each other because we all seem to hold it in. and some of us aren't even really aware of what's going on...or in denial about it.

i hear you on the keeping busy, moving and eating. that's where i'm at too.

thanks for your solidarity. :)

12:12 AM  
Blogger pomegranate queen said...

mes deux cents,
thanks and it's SO true that there's many of us out there going through stuff. and yeah, it's not our fault. though we tend to put so much on ourselves. so we end up being so unkind to ourselves.

coming to terms with it is HUGE. i'm happy you're there. i'm happy i'm there...or getting there.

and ((hugs)) right back. :)

12:15 AM  
Blogger margaret said...

The way you write about depression is so real. The line about smearing yourself in it is particulary strong. I am amazed that you can detach yourself enough from it to actually write about the experience. That is a great step. I too suffer from depression but often become so self-deprecatory in the process that it is hard to even write.

5:15 PM  
Blogger pomegranate queen said...

being aware of what's going on, the recognition, has provided me with the ability to write through it. i've struggled with "tough times" before and pulled through, but i've never named it for what it's been. it was important for me to write about it so that I could name it.

i know exactly what you mean about the self-deprecation. that's something a lot of us do even outside a depression. there's a voice somewhere that's so critical, so harsh and so unkind. and during times of depression, it gets so damn loud.

6:24 PM  

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