by Suzanne Grosser
Depression. It has been over 3 months since I made a post and that is the reason why. I was too depressed to write. Too depressed to eat. It sneaks up on you, drags you down so slowly you do not even realize anything is wrong – until it is really, really wrong. And I should know better.
I am still not sure how I missed it – except well, I was depressed. But that is no excuse. I should notice these things. I am supposed to know stuff like this, after all, I spew advice at other people. Except that checking out emotionally and mentally is part of being depressed.
I have been depressed before, so I should have been aware of the signs that mean I am losing my happy self. But I never bothered to take note of those things before. So I missed all the signs I should have caught. And sunk deeper into my depression.
I act the same way every time. That should be a warning flag for me to pay attention. To STOP and look at my life to see if I need to change something before things get worse. To get help.
When I was three years old, I went through a “phase” where I would only eat Cheerios. After questioning my mother further, I learned that this was shortly after I had been through weeks of intensive testing for a blood disorder. I had spent a lot of time in doctor’s offices, hospitals, and medical labs. I had been subjected to a lot of strangers sticking me with a lot of needles. I was too young to understand why they hurt me or why my parents allowed it to happen. Following that, I stopped eating, except for Cheerios. Hmmm – depression perhaps?
My single-food-diet eating disorder had begun.
My cure came with a trip to visit my favorite aunt. She had NOT taken me to see any doctors. She did not let strangers stick me with needles. And she fed me. So, I started eating.
It happened again in high school. I was forced to change schools, moving away from all the friends I had known with for years, and depression struck again. This time, I found solace in the cafeteria a la carte line in the shape of soft white dinner rolls – 5 of them, slathered with butter. My one meal. I lost weight. I had no energy. I was pale and quiet. My parents took me to the doctor. Lots of test, more needles, but no one thought of depression. I did not get better until I made a trip back to visit my old friends. Realizing they were not lost to me completely, made my life tolerable again. And I started eating.
Recently, well, a lot of things were wrong, but I was not dealing with any of it. Instead, I stopped eating again. Except for my daily breakfast burrito. My single-food-diet had returned. Breakfast became my only real meal, followed by intermittent nibbles of junk food. I should have recognized it for the symptom that it was. But I didn’t. Fortunately, I have good friends. Who pointed out to me that something was wrong. Which I denied, of course. They asked how they could help. And I ignored their offers, of course.
Here is how it feels:
Then I had an encounter with someone who was so energetic and charismatic that I found myself again. A friend arranged for me to attend a talk by Doris Buffet. Ms. Buffet’s combination of enthusiasm and purpose, gave me hope for myself. Of course, there was a meal involved too, so I had to eat. I had let the impossibility of my dreams bring me down. I knew I had done this to myself. Listening to her, was like restarting a dead car battery, or de-fibbing a heart that has stopped. Her energy jolted me. She faced impossibilities everyday. And her strategy for overcoming those impossibilities was simple: “ just do what needs to be done next.” Don’t worry about solving all the problems, just do the next thing. Take the next step that you can do, however small.
I knew I had to get back to doing what needed to be done. Like this website. And I knew this would be my first post, to point out to others what I had been too blind to see myself.
If you are a Christian, these words of encouragement may help you overcome your depression by leaning on the strength of your faith.
When depression starts to slip into your soul, you change. Maybe you sleep too much. Maybe you chew your fingernails until they bleed, or cut yourself to make the pain stop. Maybe you drink or otherwise over-medicate yourself. Maybe you eat too much. Or, like me, too little.
Take a look at yourself. Look back at how you behave when the world has gotten the best of you. Know the signs that mean you are sliding down that slope. Listen when your friends point out your odd behavior. Pay attention and you may be able to catch yourself before you fall.
If this site has helped you, please support my work by clicking on the link and making a small donation.
not much is required;
so little we need
the smallest of dreams,
a mere mustard seed.
a glimpse, or a glimmer,
a flicker of light,
a promise of day
against vapid night.
Books by Suzanne Grosser