I'm back at Panera for breakfast this morning - ham and swiss breakfast souffle with cranberry orange smoothie and a large, unsweetened iced tea - and getting ready to do my homework for digital photography class. This week we're asked to learn the fine art of "panning": moving the camera with a moving subject so that you can capture the main subject in still focus while blurring everything around them. I don't know how this is going to turn out, but I'll give it a good try. Of course, if I get at least one good shot, I'll post it here later.
Dealing with depression and diabetes really is a "one-two" punch. There's the everyday battles of keeping your blood sugar in check for the rest of your life while always knowing that any little bit of stress or skipping a workout or getting a cold or sneezing (OK, not really sneezing, but the rest are true) can throw your blood sugar for a loop. And when the numbers are not in your target range, it feels like a failure. It's like when you're on a diet and you eat "off plan", except on steroids. If you eat off plan, you'll gain some weight or maybe just maintain that week. If your blood sugar is high, you'll have a heart attack, stroke, go blind, lose a limb, or just plain die. Nice. And that's before you add in the depression.
Combining depression with your diabetes enhances all of the naturally-occurring guilt and feelings of failure that come with the day to day fight to control your blood sugar while also bringing along no one's best friends, worthlessness and hopelessness. Even without diabetes, depression makes you question whether or not you deserve to exist and whether the world wouldn't be just a bit brighter without you moping around and bringing everyone down. You blame yourself for every little thing that goes awry in your vicinity, as though just by breathing you are making the world a worse place to be. (Yes, you really do feel that important! Please don't confuse things with logic, thankyouverymuch.)
Most months I just deal with some mild to moderate depression for a few days to a week and then it goes away. On a good month, it's the week before TTOM, so at least it's predictable and I can reassure myself that it will be gone soon. This month is not one of those months. This month I can't remember when it started or when I last didn't feel an all-encompassing sense of impending doom. Most months just figuring out "hey, I think I'm depressed" is the beginning of helping it on its way. Not this month.
This month it's as though I'm walking on a path in a dark, foreboding forest and there's a misty fog encompassing everything. It's scary and I want to just sit down, pull my sweater over my head, and hide there - in the middle of it all - until it goes away. Except that you know it won't go away, you just have to keep walking until you come out on the other side. So I'm walking. And occasionally stumbling over rocks or tree roots or whatever else happens to be on the path that I can't see in my haste to just get this over with.
I think the worst part of this is how alone it makes you feel. Even in a room full of people. Even surrounded by people who love and care about you. There's just you and the depression, eying each other across the table, waiting to see who will blink first. Being at the diabetes and depression group on Tuesday gave me a real boost when I realize that everyone at the table (except TCB, who went to support me and to hear about the group) either was feeling or had felt or would soon be feeling just like me. Hey, I'm not alone!
So I'll go back next week. And the week after. And for eight weeks total. I'm signed up for a Women and Diabetes conference in San Diego next month that I heard about at the group meeting, and that's good, too. This, too, shall pass. I don't know how long it will take, but it will end and I'll still be here. I'm not going anywhere and I'm stronger than this.
In the meantime, I just keep walking.