There’s something particular about feeling Tired. Not in a “I shouldn’t have stayed up reading until 3 in the morning” way, but in a bone-weary, soul-worn way. A “too little butter spread over too much bread” sort of way. It’s that moment of hitting the sandy bottom of the lake and realizing that you can either make a change and try to get back to the surface, or you can just let yourself sink and be lost forever.
Cory and I spent Sunday with some good friends, watching the football game. (Okay, they watched the game…I saw their kid’s collection of nail polish and decided to get CREATIVE with my fingernails because…colors…and stuff.) Their daughter is a really amazing and talented kiddo, and towards the end of the evening Cory and our friends and their daughter were just hanging out in the kitchen, talking about dreams and friendship and things like that. In passing, I mentioned I see an analyst for my chronic depression. Their daughter was very surprised.
“You don’t seem like someone who has depression,” she said. (This is a comment I’ve gotten several times from various people.)
“Well,” I replied, “That’s often the case with depressed people. We’ve usually gotten very good at hiding our depression.”
“I thought it was like…those commercials. Where the people are sad all the time. Or…like…when you see a sad puppy.”
This prompted a very interesting discussion where we all tried to explain how depression works. It’s a difficult thing to articulate. In part, because I think our culture lacks a decent vocabulary with which to describe the sensation. Her mom said:
“You know how sometimes you get really frustrated or upset, and you might say something mean about yourself in your own head? And how, when you’ve done something really cool, you think to yourself ‘I’m awesome!’ and you feel good?” (At this point there was an excited grin, as the daughter thought about one of the fun projects she’d just finished.) “Well, imagine that those mean thoughts don’t go away very often…and when you should feel the good ones, you don’t. That’s a little bit like what depression is like.”
I thought about the reason I’d originally decided to get help with my own depression. I wasn’t feeling sad, and I wasn’t having difficulty functioning in school or work. In terms of how most people define one’s capabilities (grades, for example) I was a top performer. I was in a relationship that was valuable and healthy. I had a job opportunity lined up after I graduated. I didn’t have a lot to feel bad about. What was wrong was that I didn’t seem to feel much of anything.
The way I described it to their daughter was that it felt like I was living life through frosted glass. I could see emotions on the other side of that glass, but they were fuzzy and distant. I couldn’t connect with them. I knew that they were there. I knew that I SHOULD feel SOMETHING, but try as I might, I just couldn’t. And I was tired of that distance. I knew that feeling the bad emotions would be hard, but I wanted to feel the good emotions and I couldn’t get to them without getting to the negative stuff too. Maybe it was because I’d finally reached a point where positive emotions were actually available to feel. Not having access to that…it felt like only a half life. I was tired of only being a portion of a person.
I didn’t make that change because I was sad. I made it because I was Tired. And making that choice, even though it took a lot of work (and still TAKES a lot of work) allowed me to access a much more vital and energized way of connecting the world. With myself.
It’s strange to think that feeling Tired, just fed up, 100% done with something could actually be a major turning point to a better way of living. Sometimes, I just get sick of something, and there’s a moment of strange clarity where I realize that I don’t have to be, if I just make a choice. A choice to gather that final reserve of strength, and commit to a new way of being.
Have you ever had one of those moments of clarity? What choice did you make?
Today’s Una Songs…
– “Lost And Found” by Delerium. Oddly appropriate for today. “Tired of my sadness” indeed.
– “I’ll Look Around” by Madeleine Peyroux. Una’s always looking, although she would never admit it. Not even to herself.