I have mixed feelings about depression as a medical diagnosis. Obviously, I think it’s vitally important for people who have debilitating depression to get the psychological treatment they need. But, I also think that it’s normal to have seasons of sadness in our lives. I think that feeling sad, angry, lonely, grief and depressed are just as much a part of the human experience as joy, happiness, laughter, determination and other more pleasant emotions.
I feel very fortunate that when I have experienced a bout of depression, it usually has resolved itself in a matter of months. That being said, what I have found bizarre about my experience with depression is that by the time I recognized that there was something wrong, it was almost over.
I love to cook. I love trying new ingredients, recipes and cookbooks. I love cooking with my daughters. I love meal planning. I love eating. But for about a month, I just haven’t been able to bring myself to make a meal plan. I’ve had to force myself to go to the grocery store, and I’ve lazed around at meal time until my husband made dinner or I begrudgingly put something together to eat.
Was it over? Had I spent the last ten years saving recipes on Pinterest, figuring out what blanching was, figuring out the difference between a parsnip and parsley, and experimenting with different kinds of flour, fat, egg substitutes and chocolate in a never ending quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe for nothing?
Then I realized I wasn’t doing or enjoying anything. I wasn’t doing laundry; I wasn’t enjoying playing with my kids; I wasn’t reading; I wasn’t working on my blog. I started fantasizing about moving, changing careers, quitting work all together, and spent WAY too much time scrolling through my social media accounts.
I was going through the motions every day.
I don’t want to pretend that my experience with depression was as severe as some people’s. I never considered harming myself or anyone I love. I didn’t even feel like something was wrong. I just didn’t feel anything.
Until one day, I realized that this isn’t normal.
I know I like to cook, but I’m not cooking. I know I love reading, but I haven’t finished a book in a month. I know I love my work, but I haven’t enjoyed doing my work in a month. Something is wrong.
I wish I could say that realizing this broke the spell and everything was magically better right away.
Different people experience depression for different reasons. For me, this time, depression was the result of the fact that I have challenges in my life that don’t have easy solutions.
Oddly, acknowledging that my problems don’t have easy solutions makes me feel better. There is no quick fix, but I know that in the long run, it will probably be okay.
I think that’s the first step. And I think it’s okay to take baby steps. Today, this is my baby step. I know I enjoy writing on a blog, so even though I don’t really feel like it. I’m going to write. I know that I enjoy cooking, so I’m going to go home and make dinner.
I’m just going to have faith that if I keep doing these things that I know I enjoy enough, I will start to experience the enjoyment.