The Well of Depression

[ 7 ] Comments

by Cheryl

This essay is a part of our Peculiar Minds series.

CPonte Brick WellThe darkness of the well is concentrated. It’s hard to see up, to see light, to see reason. But in the back of my mind, I know there has to be an explanation for feeling the way I do. For feeling trapped and dark. For feeling so completely alone.

The checklist, let me look at the checklist again! There has to be a reason why I feel this way. It doesn’t make sense. No sense. None. It’s madness!

Literal madness?

My marriage is great! My husband is always there for me, working hard to provide, cooking meals, cleaning the house, shopping, loving, healing…

My kids are healthy and beautiful. They are not needy, nor clingy, nor colicky. The baby eats well and is happy. It can’t be motherhood or children.

My testimony of the gospel? No, my faith is rock-solid. I love Church. I love my callings.

Perhaps it’s my lack of friends? That’s ridiculous. I have a lot of friends and they love me.

Then what in the world could it be? This well of darkness that clouds my mind and makes me want to sleep, cry, scream, run, and hide all at once?

The Checklist.

Vitamin D, calcium, Omegas 3-6-9, B-6/B-complex, magnesium, iron. Check.

Running 4 miles a day. Check.

Eating fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Check.

Spending time outdoors. Check.

Losing 40 pounds. Check.

Lots and lots of prayer. Check.

Another baby. Then another. In between, trying to climb out of the well again. Exercise lacks, nutrition lacks… trying again. And again.

It worked before, why is it not working now? Each time I start up the sides of the well, feeling the guidance of Heavenly Father, I seem to reach a point where I slip and fall, and there I am, trapped, stuck, and I have to start climbing all over again.

Trying something else.

Therapy.

Reduce stress. Essentials, only.

Medication.

Psychiatrist.

There’s a reason for the dark well. In the recesses of your mind, it is influenced by your environment, yes, but more importantly, it’s something unable to click and connect inside of your mind.

“Like my asthma?”
“Like a diabetic?”

You may have to take medication for a while, at least until after your childbearing years.

“Even with exercise and nutrition?”

Even with.

The marathon.

Years of study and years of patience. Focus: tools of therapy, tools of medical science. Tools of faith and the priesthood.

Many days are good. Many days are beautiful! Life outside the well is sweet to behold, but I sit upon the edge, only a moment and inches from falling in again. I am tied to the well; I cannot go far. But by being tied, I don’t fall as far when I do.

I can climb out again. And again.

And again.

And again.

My arms are getting strong. My legs are getting fast.

The well is familiar, but the well no longer wins.

Image credit: CPonte Brick Well

 

The Entire Series

About Cheryl

Cheryl has been blogging for many years about --but not limited to --her children (there are six), her husband (there is one), her depression (not fun), her travels (very fun!), her religion (loves it), and anything else that strikes her fancy. Right now she's probably reading a book or changing a diaper, maybe at the same time...

7 Responses to The Well of Depression

  1. Bonnie says:

    I found it especially inspiring, after hearing about so many valiant efforts to improve your situation yourself, that you said your arms are getting stronger and your legs are getting fast. I’ve had times in my life where the ultimate lesson was that the well wouldn’t win. Sure gives new depth to “hang in there, sister”!

    • Cheryl says:

      Ha! So true! Thank you, Bonnie.

      Funny thing is that I’m finally starting to realize how this applies to all facets of my life. Spending so much time dealing with my depression has made me an expert, and so I really have become stronger and better equipped to deal with it when it comes my way –and so it is with all things we struggle with, eh? You would think I would have figured that out years ago, but then, that’s the whole purpose of life, to figure it out, and if I knew then what I know now, then what is the point, yadda, yadda, yadda. You know. :)

  2. Jendoop says:

    I guess that’s the one thing we learn for sure, to keep going and eventually something good will happen.

    Going over those checklists adds to my burdened mind. Just like Christ is willing to accept my meager efforts at obedience, how can I expect any more from myself in overcoming my depression? It takes him out of my equation too much to think that I can fix it all. This is how it feels for me, that doesn’t mean it holds true for you. That’s one of the good things about this series, the way it shows how people deal with things differently. Each at their own pace, in their own way working with what they’ve got with Gods guidance.

    • Paul says:

      Jen, I think your response makes clear that each of us is a child of God; each of us has his own way to find Him. Though it seems awfully inefficient, it is a great blessing that we can have a variety of voices so that we can each find the path that works for us.

  3. Michelle says:

    I love how the repeated experience has given you an ability to look and see it when it comes and not be surprised by it and trust what has helped you in the past will help you again…and that you are getting stronger in the process. I’ve experienced some of that. Sometimes, in fact, what I have written in a journal can be the very thing that can help me see and feel that, “Oh, this has happened before. And it got better. And this is what helped.” etc. My therapist reminds me often to remember what God has already done, to remember what answers I have already received, etc.

    That said, I think my current experience perhaps mirrors more what Jen described. The checklists for me are ultimately part of what I have realized have fed my anxiety and depression — thinking that somehow I am supposed to be able to fix the way I feel by more duty, more gratitude, more work. (That’s how I’ve processed the checklist.) I don’t have full-on clinical depression — it’s more low-level, so my experience may not mirror others’. But for me, I’ve had to learn to lean into my pain — in a sense, to hang out in the well for long enough to know why I’m there (rather than equate being in the well as evidence of failure…again, my way of processing it) — and then to learn to do a sort of ‘find and replace’ exercise with God about the beliefs that have gotten me there in the first place.

    The lists I now make are about the fears, insecurities, distortions about self/God/others/the plan/life/etc.. that trip me up and keep me stuck, with the intent to engage the Spirit and His truth see what God will replace those falsehoods with. In that sense, I feel like HE ultimately pulls me out of the well. And I am thinking that maybe He’s filling it with dirt a little each time I engage this process. :)

    My favorite definition of repentance from the Bible Dictionary describes repentance as denoting a fresh view about one’s self, God, and others. I love how the Spirit can do that, and the well experiences are helping me see how much I need that kind of repentance in my life.

  4. misssrobin says:

    You told your story beautifully. Thank you.

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