Temporarily and briefly suffering sadness for no apparent reason makes me a walking definition of melancholy.
It happens so rarely that when it takes its leave, it has the ability to switch off my intense memory of it, only to switch it back on when it returns. Oh, yes. I remember you.
I looked over the events of the last few days and weeks to see if I might discover a trigger, but none was found.
I checked off each possibility only after methodically turning them over for a cause.
After Christmas blues? Nah. There’s always another reason to celebrate. < like that!
Boy’s 30th birthday? Hmm. This one gave me pause as it poked me in the ribs to remind me of my own advancing years, except that I love getting older.
Family turmoil? The drain has been present for years and while it weighs on me, I’ve learned to cope.
Our country’s economic/political uncertainty? This is a deep concern, but by the grace of God we are able-bodied/minded and employed.
My unending running injury? Truth be told this possibility made me hesitate. As a lifelong runner, to not be able to run for the last three months, is B-I-G. Yet, I’m still able to bike and stay active, so…
So what the hell is it?
I’m going with perimenopause; when in doubt, blame that grumpy bitch!
I’m kidding. But it gave me a laugh. I have no idea what brings on a life-graying melancholy. It could be that my hormones are a bit skewed. It could be that all the chocolate coins from my Christmas stocking have been eaten and I really miss them. It could be the entire list above, adding up to a cumulative pile o’crap, and I’m kidding myself to say it isn’t.
What I know is this: I can’t fight it. The best thing I can do is to go with it, swim in it, be one with it. It will leave me soon enough as a fog silently creeping in before first light, then burning off with the rising sun.
Ah, the sun.
My irrepressible optimism, my hearty laugh, and my mischievous gleam will all return soon with a rising sun (my mind went to the rising Son. yes, that too). Until then, I remain muted and inexplicably sorrowful.
As I wrote the words to this post, trying to make sense of this joyless condition, I was suddenly grateful this dismal ache was not my natural state. I’m also sorry for those that it is. If the sudden desolation was to stick, if this was how I had to forever move through this life…I can’t imagine the possibility.
Depression is a debilitating illness; each of us probably knows someone that suffers. While my heavy-heart is temporary, many can’t shake free of the misery.
So how do you know? Are you just suffering a bout of melancholy or are you depressed?
If you have four or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks, you may suffer from depression:
- Persistent sad or “empty” mood.
- Feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless, pessimistic and/or guilty.
- Substance abuse.
- Fatigue or loss of interest in ordinary activities, including sex.
- Disturbances in eating and sleeping patterns.
- Irritability, increased crying, anxiety or panic attacks.
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
- Thoughts of suicide; suicide plans or attempts.
- Persistent physical symptoms or pains that do not respond to treatment.
If you find yourself checking off more of these points than you thought you might, if you are being pointed in the direction of suffering from depression, please seek help.
Knowledge is power, my babies. Know the signs.
One last thing: don’t let misconceptions about depression define you; you are not your depression. If anyone ever tries to shame you or push you or chastise you because of your depression, it’s pure ignorance. Don’t be a part of it.
Talk to your doctor. Talk to a trusted friend. Talk to those that love you.
While my melancholy is temporary, my heart is with those who continue to suffer.