chronic pain/fibromyalgia · depression · writing

D is for Depression

Here’s something I wrote last week….

Lately, I’ve been too depressed to write. I can’t get motivated to write my book. I can’t get motivated to write any new articles. Mostly, I can’t get motivated.

Sometimes, I wonder what life would be like if I wasn’t depressed. But I can’t remember if there was ever such a time. I do remember a time when I jumped out of bed. I guess that was before fibromyalgia made jumping out of bed, forget sleeping, damn near impossible.

On the really bad days, I wonder what’s the point? What’s the point of writing my little blogs? My little articles? My long, long, long memoir which never seems to end? What’s the point of fighting this depression? What’s the point of fighting reality? Reality being…how fibromyalgia has irreparably changed my life and how depression continues to weigh on my rickety, pained shoulders.

The other day I was hanging out with a new friend having a nice chat. And then pain ripped through me. It went from a level 1 pain (dull ache) to a level 10 (SCREAMING PAIN) in under 10 seconds. It felt as if my left eye had been stabbed and pulled out of the socket. The pain on my left side was crippling, raw, inflamed. I told my friend I had to stop talking, I had to go home immediately. In an instant, I couldn’t function anymore. And even though she was kind about it, all I could think was…how embarrassing, how embarrassing to be so sick and weak.

On the good days, it is so easy to remember what it was like before I was sick. Sometimes, I think of my life as before conversion and after conversion. Some days, I think of my life as before fibromyalgia and after fibromyalgia. I remember when I could eat at any restaurant on the block. (Okay, I couldn’t because my irritable bowel syndrome made it impossible but you know how we can reimagine the past.) I remember when my body didn’t hurt and when my body felt weightless, “light as a feather,” not heavy, leaden, stiff.

Someone told me I need to get a Patronus. I asked, “a what?” You know, like in Harry Potter when the Dementors, those predators of souls, were attacking, Harry would yell “Expecto Patronum” and suddenly a Patronus, a protector, a weapon against despair, would appear. A Patrnonus would conjure up the innermost positive feelings, such as joy, hope, or the desire to survive.

I know, you’re wondering if I smacked this person. I’m drowning in a pit of doom and gloom and they’re talking to me about Harry Potter. But I’ve always liked Harry Potter. He had a sad childhood (check) that was all about overcoming adversity (check) and he had to fight overwhelming odds (check) when anyone else would have said “give up!” But Harry was always so brave.

When people call me brave, I shake my head and tell them I wasn’t brave. I was never trying to be brave. I saw no other options. Run away from home. Kidnap sister. Fight for custody. Fight fibromyalgia. Fight depression. Fight pain.

Okay, I saw another option. Walk out. Walk away. Let go. Die. But for some reason, my feet wouldn’t cooperate. And yet, I have sat down in front of my pain medication and thought, hell, why don’t I just drink it all and call it “The End.” But no, I’ve lived long enough now to know people who have lost their friends and family to suicide. I can’t forget their faces, their pain, their guilt. I’d never kill myself but I can’t say I haven’t thought “Please G-d put me out of my misery.”

How can I be brave and have these thoughts? How? My sisters and I thought life would get easier and in some ways it has…while in other ways, it has just gotten unforgivably hard. In some ways, we have never escaped our mother. She is always there in our heads, snuffing the life out of us just when we need it most. I know those are the moments I need to ask myself “What would Harry do?” (Smile. Grimace. Smile.) But I don’t.

There are some wounds that don’t heal. They stay open and pus. They start to heal and then the scar tissue is ripped back and there’s blood. Lots and lots of blood. I walk around and I stare at people and I wonder if any of them feels the same way. If any of them are 28 and thinking, it’s time for retirement because they’re just so exhausted by life, a life that has been, well, exhausting.

Don’t tell me that it could have been worst. I am so over that statement. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve learned that it could have been much better. So seriously, what was G-d thinking? I didn’t want to be inspiring. I would have settled for just being…boring. Really, really boring. The kind of boring that opens its mouth and instantly makes you cover your mouth from yawning right before it makes your eyes roll back into your head and knocks you unconscious. So boring it makes you cross-eyed.

This week, someone forced me to go reread my fan mail. Every time I get a nice letter, I’ve printed it up and saved it. I’ve never looked them over. But someone is making me. She said, go read all those letters that people take the time to write, the letters that say “thank you for telling your story” and “thank you for being so brave” and “thank you for putting what was in my heart into words.”

And what kind of cheeky humor does G-d have that every time I get REALLY, REALLY depressed, I get another one of these letters from Australia or Africa or some place I’ve only ever dreamed of and never actually seen?!

My grandmother says (we are now talking despite that time that she testified in court against me in my mother’s favor) that in our family you just keep picking yourself back up again no matter what obstacles get in your way. Great, so this stuff is genetic? And I thought the flat feet I inherited were damn annoying.

10 thoughts on “D is for Depression

  1. most people out there in the culture simply arent tuned in to negativity or their mortality , they're not depressed and exhausted by life they're energised and driven to claw their way up the tower of self esteem without too much questioning or introspection. they're genetically fired up to accentuate the positive. its just how it is , life is ruthlessly competitive and beyond that there's no point to it , its totally impersonal and some of us draw the short straws


  2. Don't worry y'all. I am doing much better this week so far. I wrote this up last week when I was indeed, TOTALLY TOTALLY bummed out. Thanks to everyone who has sent me a nice little email to keep up my spirits.

    That's actually how I managed to swing back the other way, I read all of the lovely notes you all have sent me over the past year and it got me writing again.


  3. Let's face it, life can be pretty miserable at times. I am depressed also. After so many years of attempting to become a Jew, I decided to call it quits. This is the hardest decision I've ever made in my life, but this is something that I have to do. I am devastated and cannot imagine eating treif food again and not do what I loved so much. I hope Hashem forgives me one day, but I have to do what I have to do. Enough about me. I wish you all those who are pursuing conversion and those who are already converts the best in the world. Before I go, I would like to say a few words to you Aliza. I think you are very special and a gifted writer. Please keep enlighting people with your talents I believe that desire is the key to motivation and when this special key is lost, it's very hard to get. However, if you're determined to do what you love to do, you and Hashem will make it happen. Aliza, your Yetzer Hara is working against you. Beat the hell out of it and do what makes you happy. Take care and Haztlacha!


  4. Aliza….there are a whole mess of people who are depressed all the time…they're called new yorkers….and if my busy practice is any indication, I'd say you are in good company. Completely and totally sucks though. and btw, I have a friend who has a chronic medical condition so I kind of get where you're coming from…hang in there…hubby needs you around! Bashert doesn't work when it's just one out of two!!


  5. Depression sucks! I'm lucky that eventually I was convinced to try an SSRI and that it worked really well for me really quickly. But I still have my bad days too. Hope it helps to hear from someone who's been, while not exactly the same “there” you are, my own “there” with its own issues too. There are a lot of us out there, and sometimes we make it better than other times. I found that the crash after a period of forcing myself to be strong for others is usually the worst. But it does get better, until it isn't, but then it gets better yet again.


  6. Aliza

    It should be noted that one can be an Asperger and still have meaningful social contact. The problem that people on the spectrum face is that the sort of social contact that is meaningful to other people is not meaningful to them. I have trouble standing around in a room and trying to engage in social contact that is communicated through body language and serves the purpose of building empathetic relationships. I love engaging in social contacts built around and for the purpose of spreading ideas. For example last night I sat around for about two hours with someone talking about the Christian mystical text, Cloud of Unknowing, and the role of religion in society. I just need to find places where I can do that more often. When I am not at an academic conference the best place I know to go for that is the blogosphere.


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