“I heard you fell into a rabbit hole/covered yourself up in snow.”

(Title courtesy of “Down in a Rabbit Hole” by Bright Eyes.)

This post is just what it says on the tin: I’ve just found myself in the rabbit hole again, and I didn’t realize until the snow fell in my eyes. Or, to be less metaphorical, until I realized I had zero empathy today. And I mean zero.

It dawned on my rather ungracefully: a friend told me her dog died today, and my first response was, “I just spent 16 hours lying in bed thinking about effective and non-messy ways to kill myself, and you want to talk about your dog? Oh, okay.” I’m glad that I managed to keep my mouth shut, but really upset that I thought that at all. It’s not like me to respond like that–even at my most awkward with feelings, I have always prided myself in my ability to step into someone else’s shoes and try to say the right thing.

And today I just couldn’t do it. And I was so angry at myself for my reaction that I withdrew, spent the rest of my day berating myself for such a mean and inappropriate thought until I realized that the thought wasn’t mine, not really. Depression, the animal as we call it in my house, had taken up residence again, and that snarling was all hers.

With knowledge comes power, they say–but with depression, not so much. Knowing that I was having all of these angry, self-centered reactions because the animal was back in town didn’t stop me from having them, and it didn’t make them any less horrible. I was good about controlling myself and keeping all of the thoughts reined in literally all day, but it was a hard battle that left me with little energy for anything else… and then there was another fight.

One of my best friends and I have been having a lot of trouble because she’s trying so hard to help me, to fix me–and it’s not that simple. There is no cure. I’ll get better, I’ll get worse, but this doesn’t just go away… I’m always going to be a person who’s living with depression, whether I’m feeling it or it’s dormant, waiting for a day to strike. And her constant optimism grates on me when the animal’s in town… her insistence on looking for a silver lining when all I can see is darkness makes me feel like she’s trying to invalidate my feelings. Or worse, like she’s taunting the animal to come up with worse and worse things in response, and I can’t always act as the filter between “My Brain On Depression” and real life. I just don’t have that kind of energy. And then it escalates because she gets upset and doesn’t tell me until it bubbles over and she explodes, and it all dissolves into tears of frustration.

It’s not a pretty situation, to be sure. And I feel really responsible for all of this because I think that, if I didn’t have depression, things wouldn’t have to be this difficult. So after talking it out with her, I’ve come up with a few guidelines on how to support a friend who has depression. Read them, pass them along, whatever–I hope they’re useful to someone, somewhere, someday.

In the meantime, I’m going to try to keep it together until Wednesday, when my therapist and I get to talk about how losing my routine completely undid me.

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