Here comes the gloom again
It’s that time of year. For the last 17 years I’ve been dealing with an annual bout of depression. It usually manifests as random moodiness, occasional bouts of the irrational grumpies alternating with periods of mild melancholy. Very rarely there are even periods of free-floating rage.
It typically starts in September or so, and the kick off is usually when I notice that my birthday is approaching. Because a long time ago, the approach of my birthday also meant the approach of Ray’s birthday, which meant I could start planning what I was going to give him and how we were going to celebrate our birthdays.
And each year the depression usually stops sometime around the anniversary of Ray’s death, November 14. It’s never a completely clean ending. Some years I have a good cry. Some years when I don’t feel I’m getting through it or it’s just being worse than usual, I schedule a marathon of movies that will make me cry, so I induce a good cry.
This isn’t the only time of year I get sad remembering him. There’s always a moment during the decorating of the Christmas tree where I’ll start crying again, for instance. It might be when I unwrap one of his favorite ornaments, for instance. Then there’s times when one certain Christmas song as recorded by one particular artist pops up.
Last year was particularly bad. Much worse than it had been in some while. I don’t know any particular reason it was worse last year.
I had noticed that it didn’t seem to be happening this year. I wondered if maybe because last year was so bad that maybe this year I’d get a pass. But no. This morning I woke up really cranky for no reason, and then while I was picking out clothes to wear today I glanced up, saw Ray’s favorite stuffed tiger in his usual spot on a shelf above one dresser and I just about burst into tears. Every little thing that has gone wrong today (and they’ve all been quite minor annoyances, really) has either made me disproportionately angry or completely demoralized.
I have friends and loved ones who deal with chronic depression. I always feel a little guilty for even mentioning my annual issue when it seems so minor by comparison. But one of the times I said that, another friend reminded me that there’s nothing unreal about grieving. It’s not a competition. And it isn’t a zero-sum game.
Just as grieving my late partner doesn’t detract from my love for my living husband, admitting I’m not well doesn’t take anything away from other people.
It’s been said that shared grief is divided, while shared joy multiplies. I think another way to look at it is: sharing pain doesn’t really diminish the load, but the shared compassion and empathy replenishes our reserves, so the grief becomes bearable.
So, anyone who needs a hug, consider this an open offer. Because we all need a little more love.