I call them the dark clouds. Sometimes they come unannounced and stick around for a while threatening to storm, but just make the world cold and gray instead.
When the dark clouds of depression overtake your mind and mood, it is difficult to snap out of it because the world looks bleak and dreary. The last thing you feel like doing is thinking positive or being grateful. Smiling through the dark clouds makes your face feel like it will crack. This is a horrible place to be, but remember, this too shall pass.
“A few weeks ago, I went through a terrible bout of depression.”
I knew the dark clouds were going to come as soon as my oldest daughter, who recently moved home, told me that she was moving out west; I could feel pain in the pit of my being. Happy for her, and wanting to be a supportive parent, I smiled at the news, while crying in my heart. I knew that she was not going to stay with me forever. For, what can any parent wish for their children but for them to be happy, healthy, independent, and self sufficient?
When the time came, and she packed up all of her belongings in the front room that was her make-shift bedroom (my other children and I excitedly emptied out and cleaned up for her arrival home in August) leaving it as empty as my heart, I knew I could not prevent the onset of a depressive spell. I helped her pack up her truck and the trailer that she just purchased for her trip to Wisconsin, then California. I stayed up way past my bedtime to treasure every last moment with her. When the time came that she was ready to leave, around 2 a.m., I snuck some snacks into the truck for her trip (she did not want to take any food, but moms will always be moms), I hugged her long and tight, told her I loved her, gave a fake smile of happiness, and held back my tears. The second the truck pulled around the corner and she could no longer see me, I cried, and cried, and cried. Not sniffles, nor soft quiet tears. I sat outside on the patio in the cold, in the middle of the night crying gut-wrenching, loud sobs of pain and grief. For three days, the tears flowed. I walked around like a zombie, feeling lost, sad, and lonely without her.
“I’ve struggled with the dark clouds for pretty much my entire life.”
Depression is overwhelming, leaving us to question why we are here, what the purpose of our life is, and how to find happiness. No, I do not take medication for this, although some may argue that this is the answer. I have found ways to cope with the dark clouds and dark moods of depression.
This past time, I learned a lot. I reached out to people to talk with through my tears.
I texted friends and told them that I could not stop crying. Some people did not help me at all, telling me, “What are you crying for? Did you think she would stay forever?” Some people made me feel worse by saying, “She could have at least stayed with you through the holidays.” This made me cry even harder and longer, but also taught me a lesson. When the dark moods come, it is important to reach out to people who do not dismiss your feelings or judge you. And, hugs are good. Sometimes no words are needed and just asking someone you love for a hug is a good remedy.
This is what got me through—crying, a lot, and questioning myself.
When the tears ran dry, and in between those wet bouts, I thought long and hard about why I was feelings so sad. It was not just because my daughter left. I knew when she came home that she would not stay with me forever, nor would I want her too. I questioned my most inner self, and got answers. When she was here, I felt like I had a partner (she is twenty-three and we get along wonderfully). I have been a single mother for quite a while now. It felt good to have a companion with whom to plan my days. This was a big reason for the crying and depression. It was not so much that she was leaving, although I do love her and miss her tremendously, it was more about a pity party for myself. I would be alone again. All of my friends are happily married. Why don’t I have a partner? Why do I have to keep struggling? And on and on. Not only that, when I dug deep enough into my heart and soul to try to snap out of the funk, I realized that her leaving me brought back a million old feelings of all of the people who have left me in my life; my mother when I was twelve, and my brother who passed away when he was twenty-eight were the top two. He was my best friend.
Although I did not feel better right away (this is what differentiates depression from sadness or grief), I took this as a learning experience.
On the darkest days, I allowed myself to feel my feelings, right down to my core. Crying cleanses the soul, and I did a lot of it. I reached out to people that love me. I asked my other children for random hugs. I used the mantra “this too shall pass…” and wrote a list of things I could do to get through and feel better.
Falling into depression is never fun, but it can be used as a learning experience. Through suffering comes growth. Feelings do pass, and life does go on. If you or a loved one is depressed, allow feelings to be felt, try to get to the root of the cause, and talk with people that love you. If this does not help within a week or so, seek professional help. No one needs to suffer alone.
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