When Depression Strikes

Usually, when I sit down to write, I have something I want to say.

A lot of times, it’s a lesson I want to give over.  Other times, I want to share a personal experience.

But then there are times, times that happen every now and then, when I have absolutely nothing to say.

And I sit.  And I sit.

Today is one of those days.

I have nothing to say.

But what’s hard about today is that I have nothing to say because I don’t feel anything.

Well, I do, but it’s coming from this place of quiet, thumping depression.

Now, don’t get too worried.  This is normal in the life of a bipolar person.  I am experiencing one of the lower swings of this life.  And the funny thing is, it’s not like I’m sad.  It’s not like I want to cry or be emotional.  I just feel like I’m empty, like someone shoveled out the coals from my furnace.

The hardest things about these moments are how it’s not just that you don’t feel much.

It’s that you don’t feel the things you care about.

For example, I can’t get myself to care about the fact that it’s the new month of Elul, the time when you’re supposed to start evaluating your last year, making a commitment to change, to growth.

I don’t care.  I just don’t care.

But it’s harder than that.  It’s much harder than that.

Because I also feel like G-d isn’t here.

Now, I know this is a normal experience for many people.  We intellectually believe in G-d, but we are disconnected from his existence emotionally.

But it’s still hard.  It’s hard because I’m in the middle of writing a memoir in which I’m describing all the miracles I experienced in a short period of time.  And yet, it’s like it never happened.  It’s like it was a different person.  It’s like there was a G-d once, and now there isn’t.

That’s how it feels.

I don’t know why, but I feel like it’s important that you know this.

This blog, so often, is about looking at the positive of the world.  About tapping into it, realizing that we can always grow and change and evolve.  That life is not static.

I think, though, that sometimes part of realizing that, is also realizing that we will have moments of difficulty.  That the people around us may be going through moments of difficulty.  That so much of the way people act and think and talk is because of what they are going through.

If you talk to me today, you will not be inspired.  I will be low.  I will be gone.  I will look at you and I won’t be able to acknowledge there is a G-d around us.  Even now, I dread that someone I know will read this and see me today, and I won’t be able to even pretend.

I don’t know, I guess I wanted to end this with some significant ending, with some deep thought.  I had an idea recently to mention how we all have a different starting line in life, and it doesn’t matter where we are objectively, what matters is how hard we’re working to move from the starting line to the finish.

It’s still true, I think, and I would love to take a stab at inspiring you with the thought.

But maybe part of all that, of all this, is about accepting that there will always be pit stops along the way.  Pit stops of depression, of difficulties, of pain, of simply taking a breath.

I have no question that in a few days, or tomorrow, or maybe even today, I’ll wake up out of this, shake it off, move on.

But right now… it’s okay to feel like this.  It’s okay to accept I’m not perfect, or always on fire, or any other imagined caricature of myself.  I’m just a dude.

I hope, if you ever experience depression, or just the ups and downs of life, that maybe this will give you a little solace.  That maybe you’ll see it and remind yourself that your emotions are not evil, that they are a part of your growth, and that you don’t have to let them torture you.  Just let them pass over, like the crash of a wave.  It will sting for a moment, but soon you’ll be looking at the infinite expanse of possibility before you.

  • Joe Goldman
    • That is not describing the type of depression talked about in this piece. Chapter 26 focuses on sadness, which is different already from depression, caused by external forces such as loss in fortune or our failings in spirituality.

      Bipolar, as I experience it, and clinical depression are not caused by such things, and often do not even resemble sadness. As I said in the piece, this is not about being sad, but an effect of a physical reality in the body. To attempt to apply the advice from chapter 26 would be dangerous, in my opinion, because it is describing something different and distinct.

  • Shandel Strasberg

    your not alone. gam ze ya’avor

  • EBass

    Sometimes when you are in a cave, it’s just good to know that when you come out the world will still be there, whether you want it to or not. Sometimes it’s good to just sink into whatever the weather is on the inside today. Partly cloudy here too. Thanks for posting.

  • Rivki Silver

    I’m sorry you’re feeling down now. I am too, and I’m sick on top of it. And my husband’s working hours are brutal. So even though I’m bummed that you’re down, I did get chizuk from hearing that I’m not the only one. And I will wait to have energy and vitality again, and remember that not every day or week is like that. Hatzlacha.

    • Rivki Silver

      I realize that I’m making a general comparison between us now, and I hope that’s okay. While I don’t know the feeling of bipolar, I have been feeling like everything is too hard and too much lately, and I could relate to a lot of what you wrote. And now I’m just rambling. Anyways, kol hakavod for posting about this. Life isn’t always all about spiritual highs and connectedness, and that’s okay. We’ll get back to that place, just gotta keep it in mind while we’re not there.

      • LOL, no Rivki, don’t worry about it. I loved your comment, and while we do all have our own personal journeys, we also do have much in common, and sharing those things is always helpful. Which is why I shared this post myself. So, yes, loved your comment, and thank you 🙂

  • Tzvi Adlerstein

    You’re a beacon of strength, man

  • bat Sarah

    “It’s okay to feel this… I’m not perfect… I’m just a dude.”
    thank you man
    just a dude
    powerful words
    realizing that there are others who feel empty and who don’t care about the things they know they care about is sadly comforting. you explained how i feel so eloquently.
    and that, too, is a sort of inspiration.

  • bat Sarah

    this should be in best of popchassid