I am in grief, I’m in it deep. It’s been two months since my brother died and just over a year since my father died. I hadn’t fully processed losing my dad, was cautiously counting down to the one year anniversary of his passing, when BAM!, my brother died at 29 years old. The initial shock is over and as my mom said to me yesterday, the reality and finality is now setting in.
I’ve read many descriptions of grief that compare it to waves in the ocean. They come on strong and often at first, then gradually get smaller and further spread out. A wave might catch you by surprise and knock you over after days of calm seas. It’s hard to predict when they will hit and how long they’ll last, as you’re just trying to keep your head above water and breathe.
It’s exhausting, it’s emotionally draining, it’s very sad. There are tears and anger and hurt, it really hurts.
But grief is not depression. And I have a message for anyone who is depressed or has been depressed; stop beating yourself up and let go of the guilt that you have nothing to be “depressed about”. That’s the hell that is depression, there is not necessarily an external reason for the way you feel, your brain is not working correctly.
I am in grief, I’m in it deep. I have also been depressed, and in my experience, depression is worse.
Those waves that come and go with grief, there is light between them, there are breaks. I can eat and sleep and smile – a real smile, not a fake or forced one. There are no breaks with depression, it’s with you from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed. That is if you’re lucky enough to sleep, maybe you toss and turn all night trying to turn off your brain, it’s that relentless.
For me, there were no tears with depression. I was so numb, I couldn’t even cry. The tears come with grief, and they come because I loved my brother and my father. My grief has a purpose, I miss them and need this time to remember and honor them. The memories are happy, the sadness and tears are because there won’t be more, and life going forward is on an unexpected path. Depression has no purpose, it steals your time, not to reflect, but to run your brain in circles and lies with no logical way out. Every day with depression was a battle, I spent my days counting the hours until night, I just wanted each day to be over as quickly as possible.
There are times these days when I’m drowning in that sea of grief, yet I know I won’t feel like this forever. I know this is a process and I will get through it. Depression felt hopeless, I didn’t think I’d ever get through it, I didn’t think I’d be OK.
I am in grief, I’m in it deep. But I know I’m not depressed. I know because I feel. Feeling is wonderful, even when the emotions are excruciatingly sad. I’m grateful for my tears because I remember a time they didn’t come. I feel because I’m not depressed; and I grieve because I loved. And I know I’ll be OK.
Note – I am not a mental health professional, please seek one if you are feeling depressed, or if you are grieving and find that it is affecting your ability to function day-to-day. I am fortunate to have an excellent therapist and psychiatrist who I check in with, and have sought grief support through in-person and online communities.