I have been blogging for (what feels like) a long time (I actually missed my six year blogoversary last month). I used to write almost every day, and I would write whatever I was thinking or feeling. My blog was a raw, honest place.
That has changed. I have changed. I don’t write as much any more, and I don’t write everything I’m thinking or feeling. Partly that is a reflection on me and the ways I’ve evolved–I don’t share as much with others as I used to in any area of my life. At least it doesn’t feel like I do. I wonder sometimes if that is true.
I don’t put myself out there anymore, because I realize now that there will always be judgement; there will always be those people who read what I write and think my words here are a complete reflection of who I am. And perhaps it’s not fair to ask someone to remain constantly aware of the fact that what is presented here is not an accurate account, that I am more than what I write in these posts.
Despair. There can be an air of it, evidently, in how I present myself. Even people who know I am more can be weighed down by it. So I’m trying hard to hold it close, to contain it. I know it’s there. I recognize it myself. I can see how others perceive it. And I understand that those people who are not afflicted by depression, who have never suffered it (or haven’t suffered from it consistently) can’t recognize its manifestations. It took me over a decade to do that myself, and I’m living with it, so I don’t expect others to easily identify it and understand it for what it is–a thing I am afflicted with, but not who I am.
Few things have hurt more than when my words here were taken as some indelible truth by those I loved, and used against me. I do, and will continue to, try hard to ensure it never happens again.
And so I hold things close. When the stress starts to get the better of me and I notice I am falling into that pit that others recognize as despair, I hang back. I put on a mask. I don’t share that part of me with anyone else. Not even here. But I also don’t force myself to pretend I am somewhere I’m not. I don’t force myself to pretend anymore than I’m already required to. So I stop writing. I stop texting. I stop reaching out. I know that people don’t want any part of me when I’m like this so I don’t thrust it in their faces. Instead, I let there be silence.
Silence doesn’t have to be bad. Silence can be a healing place.
This is a hard time of year for me. It always has been. There are myriad reasons why this year the stress is even more intense. I’m not handling any of it particularly well. I’m okay with that. I’m giving myself time and space. I’m giving my friends a break. I’m reading bad YA novels and watching mindless TV. I’m working out (which helps my stress levels immensely). I’m not writing. I’m not posting. I’m putting up cute pictures of my kids on FB. I’m answering How are you? with Fine.
And I will be fine. I know that. If I were worried that I might not be fine I’d reach out. This is not the kind of melancholy that requires I seek outside support. I know myself. I know my moods. I know my up and down cycles. I know my depression. I’m on my medication. This is a tough time–this will be a hard year–but eventually it will be become routine, and the weight of it won’t feel so overwhelming.
In the meantime I retreat. And that is okay. Sometimes retreating is the right move, strategically. Sometimes retreating is the smart thing to do.
How do you cope when you’re struggling?