It has been one of those topsy turvy weeks for me.

My psychologist tells me that I am doing vey well from a functional point of view.  This means that my walking is better, my balance is improving, all in all physically I am not doing too badly.  I don’t remember where I have come from so I have to trust everyone around me on this.  So those functional day-to-day tasks are getting a little easier for me.

The thing that hasn’t changed for me is my memory.  Unless I write things down (which I do every day) I really have no recall of yesterday.  That isn’t to say that I might not refer to things that have happened in recent times but it isn’t because I can recall those things they just kind of float into the conversation.  Again I am told this is very expected progress.  Though this may be as good as it gets things float in and out without that ability to recall things when I want to.  For someone like me who has always relied on my memory for everything you can’t imagine how annoying this is.

Generally and emotionally I am really, really struggling.  I can read and understand from my journals I am doing much better.  But emotionally I feel like I am falling deeper and deeper down the hole and I am just hoping like nothing else I remember to tie the rope to something sturdy at the top to help me climb back out.  The physical progress I think was likely to always be the easy part of this journey.

Anxiety and depression are so misunderstood and I am sure that people think that we can just recover and get over them like one would the flu.  I think the reality is that somehow we (those who have these illnesses) learn to live with them, learn to disguise them and even learn coping strategies so that life is easier for us and those around us.  All of this is great when the strategies work but when they don’t that is when the wheels fall off.  That is where I am at in a car with no wheels.  My strategies stopped working a long time ago only I kept driving on flat tyres and didn’t realise how bad things were until the wheels fell off all together and the car stopped completely.

Probably one of the things I wonder most about this entire process is whether I will ever get full access to my memories again.  We have just had a weekend full of family fun reading my journal and looking at my pictures.  In all of the pictures I am smiling but honestly I can tell you that inside a little piece of me is dying each and every day that I can’t remember.

I am trying really, really hard to be here, to be present, to practise gratitude, to be mindful to use all of the techniques that the self help books tell you will work.  Thinking positive, being optimistic that tomorrow is a new day and will be better – sure but the better I am comparing it to is four or so years ago in my head or if I read my journal then I am reading a story of someone else.  The emotional connection isn’t there to the words on the page and that is truly very hard.

Depression sucks frankly it robs you of so much.  It also robs those you love of so much which is why I try to hard to be part of the family.  It is exhausting on a scale that I cannot even describe.  I try to keep busy and get the little things done that I can to help everyone out, even the simplest tasks some days like getting dressed are beyond exhausting.  Yet other days it seems that I can muster the strength that I need to get many things done.  I feel like I fluctuate between having all the energy in the world and having none at all there feels like there is no middle ground at all.  Then busy weekends come along.

They are things that I want to do, that I want to be a part of, I want the photos, I want to be smiling in the photos, I want the kids to see me at their dancing or sport, I want to go to the family events.  I don’t want to miss out on these things but I so desperately want to remember these events, I want to be present and doing more than just going through the motions.  I need the smile in the photos to be real and not just because.

The emotional and physical cost of the smile and the being there can be the exhaustion.  I wish there were words to explain this level of exhaustion, maybe there are but my brain is just too tired to find them.  I feel like I could sleep for weeks.  In fact I wish I could sleep and wake up and feel better.

I hope in time this will come.  I know from my journals that we are going to try and embark on a process of sitting with these hard emotions and I am guessing the hope is that as I work through the emotions in a safe space then I can let them go.  I really don’t know how that works.  I just know I need this heaviness to lift off me.

Trying to live with, process and move through long term depression is probably one of the hardest things anyone can do.  Partly because the battles you are fighting are against yourself.  Fighting your own brain, fighting to stay present, to stay here, fighting against things you can’t see, touch, feel.

When you are fighting the invisible there is nothing to yell at, nothing to hit, nothing tangible to cling to.  I just keep clinging to the hope that I remembered to securely fasten the rope at the top and that it is long enough to keep me from hitting the bottom.  In the meantime I will keep holding on.  I am surrounded by lots of love and support and I will cling to that with everything I have.

There is such a thing as smiling depression.  Smiling because it is easier than telling it how it really is.  Smiling because you are hoping that smiling on the outside might soak through to the inside.  Smiling because it helps all those around you.  Smiling can be exhausting and very tiring.  Be patient and be there one day the smile will drop and they will need you to hold their hand.

In the meantime here are some photos from the weekend where we were all together and smiling.

Linking up with Essentially Jess #ibot


I have also been working through some of my most favourite online writers.  If you want to  have a read through of some new amazing writers (well in my opinion), take a look you might find someone that inspires you.  Also jump into #ibot to discover others I might not have!

Raindrops on roses … – These are a few of my favourite writers

A week in review … – The list was just to long for one post, and there still more.

Remember your smile can make someone’s day!

Cathy xoxo 

6 Replies to “Smiling is exhausting”

  1. I’m sorry to hear you’re having a tough time at the moment. I understand. When you’re in the thick of it, it’s impossible to see, but it does get easier, it will get easier, you will be ok. I don’t believe there is any magic ‘cure’ for depression (wouldn’t that be nice) but I do believe we can find a way to manage it and manage to live a happy life.

    1. Thanks Sarah, we think it feels so bad at the moment because up til now I have had the focus of the physical as well as the emotional but now with the focus on the emotional side of things and there is a huge stack of blergh to deal with there it is not surprising that I am struggling along xoxo

  2. Hang in there Cathy! I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety. I know it all well. Things can change hour to hour, let alone day to day. Talk to me anytime you need a friend. I’ll be here. xoxo

  3. Oh Cathy, I came here this morning to comment and read so much of your ‘back story’ first to try to get some more understanding. You have been through so much and yet…you still get up each day, do what you do and be what you be and are there…for yourself and your family. I too struggle a bit from day to day with anxiety and IBS-related to said anxiety. It keeps me from ‘doing what I want’ some days and I fight that all the time. I may not ‘know’ you IRL but I am sensing through your words here that you are a very intelligent woman who has been struck by really horrid illnesses which do impact hugely on any quality of life you would like. The fact that the professionals make pronouncements that you are improving on some levels is good, however emotional recovery takes much, much more time (I know for reals) and this unseen stuff is hard. Always up for a chat too, as Min says…. Denyse #teamIBOT

  4. Cathy, I really feel for you. I cannot imagine what it must be like. Good on you for keeping that smile on you face and taking each day as it comes.

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