Today is my birthday. I'm 51. I don't feel 51. I don't know how old I feel, to be honest. In some ways, I'd swear I'm but a few days past 22. In others, 82 would be a closer bet. Usually, I'm kind of split... part of me still feels like a kid, like I simply can't believe some idiot would heap all this responsibility on my head long before I was trained up to deal with it. The other part of me feels completely and utterly world-weary.
I've dealt with depression a few times in my life. And one of the warning signs, a sign that I'm on that downward slope, is fatigue. Not just I need a nap fatigue, but that bone-tired, I don't wanna move ever sort of fatigue.
That's how I feel right now.
Depression, for me, is situational. It's usually the result of some significant stressor - death, divorce, money woes, illness. In fact, the first time I really dealt with it (that is, acknowledged and faced it), after my dad died, I wouldn't even admit at first that it was depression. I didn't believe it was depression. I always believed things would get better (I always believe things will get better), and I thought that if you knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel (even if you couldn't yet see it), you weren't depressed.
I was wrong.
Depression, for me, is not about medicine. I understand that it's necessary at times and that it works for others, and I'd never say people shouldn't medicate when necessary. But I've never found it necessary. And the therapist I saw for some time, during the deepest depressions I've weathered (after my dad died and after my marriage ended), didn't feel it was necessary either. And since medicines seem to rarely work for me the way they do for other people, I'm quite happy about that.
So I'm in this state of significant fatigue at present, fending off a bout of depression I do not want or need. I spent much of the year after my 50th birthday celebration dealing with the stress and worries that come from having and being treated for cancer - the side-effects and illness, the financial difficulties, the single motherhood aspect, the residual foggy brain and memory problems, the realization that I am, indeed, mortal, and that mortality can be quite a fleeting thing. And I thought it was all over for a while. And then it wasn't over after all. And a whole year has passed in the blink of an eye and everything feels... not right. And all of it has left me tired.
Most days, I plug along, cheerful enough, my sense of humor intact, grateful for all I have and for the people in my life, with the ability to turn that gratitude into positivity. Most days.
But some days? Like today? Even though it's a day when oodles of people have taken the time to wish me well and say wonderful things to and about me, all I want to do is STOP. I want to take a long vacation - like MONTHS long - in a warm place, where all I have to do is sit in the sunshine and swim and read books and eat healthy food that someone else has prepared for me.
I know, I know. Everyone wants that. Can you blame them?
But that's not Life, is it? Life is getting up every day, even when it's cold and rainy and miserable out, taking the dog for a walk, cleaning the cats' litter box, cooking meals (mediocre though they may be), playing chauffeur, going to work, doing laundry, figuring out how to make a paycheck stretch much farther than it really should, and trying, trying, trying to get from Monday to Friday without breaking down, falling down, or bringing everyone else down.
Thankfully, depression, for me, is not (usually) a long-term thing. So, in a few days, weeks, or, heaven forbid, months, I'll feel mostly fine again. Not so worried. Not so tired.
But today? On my birthday? I'd just like the world to stop. Just for a little while.
It's not so much to ask. Is it?