Some people look at me a little crazy when I say that I have depression. It’s not as hard cutting as those who have major depressive disorder. Because I have high functioning depression, and it is hella hard. Not that having major depressive disorder isn’t hard, or that it’s harder for me. Simply, it’s hard in a different way.
People look at you and think you’re faking it for attention, or that you just “don’t know what real depression is.” Having high functioning depression is sometimes the feeling that if you just push through it all, then it will all work out. And then you try. You try to push through it, but of course, because you have depression, it doesn’t go away. Staying active, constantly working or keeping up with hobbies and friends, staying on top of chores and errands etc. don’t make things feel better like you thought they would.
And that’s the thing. You can’t help but always feeling like you have to do something, but you always know deep down that it’s not what is going to help. You need therapy or sometimes even meds. And even when I’m pushing through my super crazed high functioning days, I still have the helpless ones. The ones where I can’t leave bed. Where everything feels numb and pointless. Where my boyfriend has to keep bringing me food or else I won’t eat because I won’t even think about it. Where I don’t have the energy to even take a 5 minute shower. Where you stare into space the whole time someone is talking to you, and you’re not even thinking of anything at all.
It’s hard to talk about. While mental illness has become more understood and accepted, it’s still stigmatized hard. And mental illness is so different for everyone, yet there’s still so much judgment. How do we speak out bravely and feel the courage to open up without fearing ridicule? Sure, this blog and you who read it aren’t my therapist, nor am I asking you to be. But for me personally, and I’m sure for many others, writing is a source of calm, relief, and escape. It’s not even about people reading this, but simply about writing it. The pure and raw honesty that oozes from clacking my fingers onto these keys. Even if no one reads it, to me personally, it feels brave to still write it.
Now, onto a lighter note, I have been with Andrew for a year and 2 months now. Wow. If you told me that I’d be here a 2 years ago, I probably would have laughed. The woman who was single for 6 years, the relationships coming prior being 6 months ad 3. If you told me I would fall in love with someone who would become my absolute best friend, I would have told you that I had accepted being alone for the rest of my life.
3 months ago, I moved in with said best friend. And it’s been scary. There’s a difference between someone knowing the ugly parts of you and sometimes experiencing them from a distance and allowing them to see those parts of you in the light, up close, personal, and more often that you would like to count.
I was scared shitless because here was a man who I found who saw this light in me. Who loved me unconditionally, dealt with my anxiety, and saw that I could do anything. A man I had been to hell and back with and came back with a stronger bond than I could have ever imagined would have been forged with anyone.
I was scared shitless for him to see me on those days. The depressive days laying in 5 day old clothes with barely the energy to brush my teeth. It’s not that I thought he would reject me or be angry with me or see me as less of a person. I was scared that it would be too overwhelming. That he might not have known how to handle it. But every time, he somehow finds this amazingly perfect balance of taking care of me but not coddling me. Sometimes, I need to not be treated like a fragile baby when I start to have an episode.
He tries to give me ideas that might help me out of bed, but if they don’t work, he doesn’t push it, he accepts it, and leaves it at that. He tries to find ways to help, but understands that it won’t always be the case that he can.
I can’t even begin to list the things he does for me, and in all the ways our love for each other is so deep and connected. But I can share a few things that I can sometimes be grouchy about but ultimately finding gratefulness in them makes my love for him stronger.
I hate grocery shopping.
I hate dishes.
I hate laundry.
But when I shop for groceries, that means we have food that we can cook together. And when there’s a mountain of dishes, I know that it means we cooked a hearty meal together. And when there’s a full pile of laundry in less than a week because we’re two people, I know that we have fresh clothes to make the best of our work lives.
It’s so easy sometimes to get annoyed at little things. It feels hard to find gratefulness in the things that annoy you. Today I looked at a really full sink after just having done dishes the day before, and I kept thinking how the hell did we use so many dishes? But in the midst of cleaning them, I found myself starting to think about what each dish was used for. The one that cooked our pasta, seared our chicken, boiled our corn, concocted our sauce, held all of our food, put the food into our mouths. I couldn’t help but smile. We love food, and we love cooking. These small moments mean so much to me, and I know they mean so much to him.
I know this isn’t a brand new discovery for a lot of people, but for me who is still traversing what it means to be in a relationship (because unlike some of you I’ve never been in 5 different year long or more relationships), I feel like I’ve come out of these past few months with such a deeper appreciation for all the little annoyances.
Having depression and having a partner who tries really hard to care for you can feel annoying. It can feel like you want to snap at them with what little energy you have, because you want them to know that you think it’s pointless. But having someone try vs. someone who doesn’t give a shit about you or your mental health is truly wonderful, and I’m mad at myself for ever trying to settle for anything less.
I am trying to find more ways to be grateful, even if they’re small or things that should be a constant in my life anyways. Which brings me to my next topic. My habit cough.
What the fuck is that, I’m sure you’re wondering. Habit coughs generally form in children, but can rarely happen in adults. Mine developed about a year and a half ago in the summer of 2018. Recently diagnosed, we realized it was the product of stress. A habit cough means that I cough almost incessantly, everyday for no medical reason. Meaning I’m not sick or coming down with something.
It started around the time I decided I was moving to San Francisco, and I was scared to hell. It was the biggest and probably the most impulsive life decision I was making. Then came the stressful 3,000 mile move over the course of 6 days with a cat. Then I got here, albeit with a job and apartment ready to go, but finances were kicking my ass. Then I met this extraordinary man who swept me off my feet and who I knew immediately was going to change my life. Things continued to be so hard for me financially, no matter what I did. That included egg donation. Yes. I did that.
Things did start to ease, but ultimately, the stress wreaked havoc on my nervous cough, which then turned into a habit very easily. And I couldn’t understand why. It was never phlegmy and gross. It never felt like I had to “cough” but rather just clear my throat. But it became so invasive that it would irritate my throat therefore making me want to cough more.
After finally seeing a doctor and pinpointing the source, of it all, I started doing more to relieve my stresses. Though the main stresses that caused it all to start were gone, I was still using it as a way to deal with my everyday stress.
Exercising more, meditation, stretches, relaxing podcasts, inspiring videos, more snuggles with my cat, replacing the urge to cough with drinking water or finding distractions, and like stated above, trying to find goodness in the annoyances.
It’s been about a month since I was diagnosed, and the cough is still there. But every day I do it less and less. It’s hard to break a habit for a reason. But Andrew has been really understanding, helpful, and patient. There’s still so much to be stressed out about. Moving is hard. Getting new work is hard. Adjusting your finances to a new area and a new move is hard. So I still find myself coughing a few times a day.
I’m trying to be easy on myself and live by my favorite zombieland rule. 32.