A scarcely discussed aspect of mental illness – and like chronic illness as well, I get the impression – is the fatigue of having to describe and rationalize the symptoms.

So last week, I crashed bad.  BAD.  Catastrophically bad.  Couldn’t get out of bed, bad.  The kind of bad that is usually an exaggeration played for laughs in comedy shows.  But it was real.  Agonizingly, painfully real.  I tried and failed to muddle through one day, and then was basically crippled the following day.  It’s taken more than a week to recover, if I can even call this recovery.  There was no catalyst, no real inciting incident.  As near as I can tell, my Depression just rolled a natural 20 on it’s to-hit roll and I went down like a sack of grain.

That’s bad, sure.  But what’s worse is the cacophony of ‘what’s wrong’, ‘are you feeling better’, ‘what happened’ and similar questions from every single person I interact with.

You ever try to walk when your foot’s asleep?  You know how it’s both painful and embarrassing and your hate every person in the world with a working pair of feet?  It’s kind of like that, but with your thoughts.

Golfer David Feherty once described Depression as ‘being immunocompromised for your thoughts’ and I think that’s one of the more accurate descriptions I’ve ever heard.  I can proverbially wash my hands and avoid coughs and do all the things right but infection vectors can still hit me.  And I promise you, thoughts are a hell of a lot harder to control than actions.

But again, I have to explain this to people.  I’m struggling to do the most basic of actions (we’re talking brush-your-teeth basic) and these well-meaning mother*&kers are telling me about how I just need to ‘take it easy’ or ‘go for a walk’ or ‘eat some candy’.  No amount of explanation will adequately convey to them why their advice won’t work and just listening to it, just parsing through it, is exhausting.

Because I’m in quarantine (AS WE ALL SHOULD BE), I’m exclusively around family.  This means these are people who know me and love me.  And this is what is most exhausting of all: there is nothing more shameful and exhausting as knowing you are a total and complete failure of a human being.  And I say that because there is no greater failure than to be unhappy.

Every time Depression hits me, I’m robbed of my sense of being a good son to my parents, a good husband to my wife.  Because I know, deep down, they just want me to be happy.  And in these moments, I can’t even manage that.

And then the Depression deepens.  It’s an ugly, ugly cycle that is harder than you can imagine to break.

A week later and I’m just now breaking it.  And I’m just now beginning the repair.

Published by Robert V Aldrich

Author. Speaker. Cancer Researcher. Martial Artist. Illustrator. Cat dad. Nerd.

2 thoughts on “Bedridden

  1. As someone who deals with his own depression, I very much understand how useless advice from well meaning family can be. I haven’t had a true crash like what you describe, but I can empathize with feeling like I’ve been a failure of a son to my parents.

    I know that at this time, wishes of “hope you feel better soon” and the like are worthless. It slides off as disingenuous even if the person is well meaning.

    But with that in mind, I still want to offer the following as a random internet stranger.

    I’ve been a fan since I met you at MAGFEST as a kid in college. I have most of your work in print, including the Crossworld books. I have your autograph on some of them.

    For all these years I’ve checked your website on occasion to see what you’re working on an if anything new is out there. I am reading. I enjoy your work.

    1. I really appreciate it, the kind words, the support, all of it.
      I’m sorry to hear about your own struggles with depression. It’s an experience to be sure. But hang in there, stay strong, and thank you for looking out for me and looking out for others. It does the world more good than I could ever express. Thank you!

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