Monday, May 2, 2011
Helping Your Loved Ones Recover from Your Depression
I write on here quite a bit about overcoming depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Dance has been a huge link in the chain of one hundred million things that have made that possible. But the central link, the strongest link has been Marcy's love for me, her belief in me, her patience, and her willingness to wait when waiting has been called for.
And there are still days when all of this is asked of her yet again, because "overcoming" these things is not a one-time deal. It happens over and over, at ever deeper levels of understanding. I am barely recognizable from the person I was when Marcy first met me, and my Sick Mind is no longer in charge of my/our every day, but still...there is work to be done and then there is more work to be done.
We are reaping the benefits, for sure: My eyes are no longer deadened as they were 17 years ago -- they are alive with hope and, as Marcy would say, earned wisdom; I get out of bed in the morning, ready to meet the day's challenges, rather than barely wanting to move; I am able to challenge myself and take risks and meet fears head on.
But what I want to write about is Marcy. I want to write about all the loved ones who sit with us when we have nothing left to say and are overcome with grief; the loved ones who hold us and soothe us when crying seems to never stop; the loved ones who feed us when we cannot remember to feed ourselves.
What of them when we start to finally get better?
I am learning that Marcy has pain and sadness and hurt from all those years. She is not angry with me, but she is angry at the time we lost to depression. She is sad from experiencing the depths of my sad. She has anxiety from all the times when she feared for me.
There are repercussions beyond ourselves and this can feel confusing. We are getting better so we wonder why our loved one might not be on the same page.
They are not on the same page because they have had to, for so long, stay so many pages ahead just to help us get from day to day, month to month, year to year.
And now, they are tired. We are better and they can finally feel all that they set aside in order to care for us.
Our loved ones are not perfect. They are not saints. They are human and came into the relationship with their own problems like anyone else, and as we finally get stronger, they can finally get weaker.
It is our turn to care for them.
I know, now, that I am called to patience and love, just as Marcy has demonstrated for so many years. I am called to sit and hold her, soothe her, wait with her, as she did for me.
I can easily feel daunted by this task. I have spent so many years of my life "suffering," "doing depression" (that phrase will piss some of you off; I don't care; I am ready to take full responsibility for what I have been through; I might not have caused the harm that was done to me, but I succumbed to unproductive behaviors in response to that harm and consequently caused others harm).
Depression, illness in general, creates a sort of self-centered vacuum around us. It sucks the energy out of everything.
Upon waking from depression, we cannot be surprised by the pain we have caused, and now we are called to new levels of bravery. We must courageously pick up the mantle of responsibility and we must care for those who so lovingly cared for us.