The murky, dark fog of depression can be confusing to some, but to anyone who has experienced this kind of mental fog, it is all too familiar. This is a very lonely place because nothing is really clear when I am in the pit of depression and it feels like I am surrounded by this thick, dense, black fog. To those, who have experienced this fog, you are not alone, even though it really feels like you are. To those who are fortunate enough to have never experienced this murky fog of depression, I am hoping that what I write might offer you some insight if someone you know is in this pit right now. There is one thing that is very clear to me: it is not rational in any way.
When I am in this pit my mind is swirling with contradictory thoughts about what people say or things that happen. Am I the only one? Why does this always happen to me? It isn’t just the odd thought, but these thoughts come at me like a flood, and at times, like a mental tsunami. It is the intensity and the frequency of these insecure thoughts, the doubt that always accompanies them, and the mental anguish as I try to untangle what might or might not be real. The insecurity can be very intense at times, but fear generally comes along for the ride. While I am almost positive that guy meant to hurt me, although deep down I am pretty sure I just took the comment the wrong way, I am also afraid to confront the situation in case my fears might, in fact, be real. The insecurity and the fear are powerful chains that tend to keep me imprisoned in my bedroom, alone in the dark, almost like a womb where I feel secure from external threats. At times like these, I silence my phone and do what I can to shut out the world, at least for a short time.
The longer I stay in isolation, the more susceptible I become to delusion or paranoia. The confusion, insecurity, and fear are the kindling, of sorts, for delusions and paranoia about people and events. When I reach this stage (and mercifully for me it usually doesn’t last very long), I convince myself that venues that are designed for my healing work against me for various reasons. I usually attend a Celebrate Recovery meeting on Friday nights. I did not attend this past week because I have felt ignored and alone at times due to physical disabilities. I managed to build the scenario that married men were hanging out together ignoring me because I am single. Yes, as I write those words, they do appear to be delusional and paranoid. I will own that, but in the pit of depression where nothing is really all that clear, these delusional thoughts swirl around my mind creating a perfect storm that tends to paralyze me emotionally, then physically. God has blessed me with a wonderful imagination. This is the dark side of that gift.
When I am in this pit, I also experience intense sadness or mourning, almost as if I am grieving the loss of a loved one. I have grieved the loss of my father, so I know what it is like. I would describe this grief as a situational grief. I am mourning or sad about the state of my life as I see it. I am often moved to tears, not over what someone has done or said to me, but because of how I see my life right now. It is not realistic or balanced. In isolation, though, there are no checks and balances. I am free to think whatever I want to think, grieve as I see fit, and continue the delusions and paranoia until something comes along to snap me out of it. Generally, that “something” is a someone — a person who reaches out to me for some reason, calls, texts, emails, or takes the initiative to contact me and is not offended if I do not respond immediately.
Sometimes reality returns in a flash, as if someone flicked a light switch. Other times it can take weeks or even a couple of months for me to recover from an episode of depression. I feel somewhat better today but I also feel emotionally unstable. As I look ahead to my week, I have a few events planned, but there are still days that are blank. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I am an introvert and need solitude to settle down after a period of social intensity. I had a good day at church, but I am now looking forward to spending the rest of the day in solitude.