Depression ruined my vacuum cleaner   Leave a comment

People with depression sometimes get really good at hiding their symptoms.  I guess I started when I was kid.  There is a real pressure in the kind of Christianity I grew up in to be OK. You don’t have to be perfect of course, some minor struggles are allowed, like gossip or gluttony. You can even struggle with forgiveness if something particularly horrible happen to you, but there is this tyranny of OK that must be obeyed.   It’s not OK to be depressed.  There is a stigma against mental illness in normal society, and particularly against depression.  People who’ve never been there think that depressed people need to just buck up and get their shit together.  This is unusually true about the church because so many of the promises in the Bible about the “peace of God” and such.

So I started hiding my symptoms when they started showing up around the time I started middle school. I didn’t trust my parents or my parents church to deal with me or my symptoms the way I needed (a decision I have zero regrets about 20 years later) and I just hid it.  I was honest about it with my wife and later my daughter. (I figure having a dad who answers your question honestly when you ask “Daddy, why can’t you get out of bed today?” is less scary than having one who lies to you about it or does it in the first place) but in general, mostly no one really knew, or if they knew had any idea how serious it was.  I thought I did such a great job “functioning”.  I wouldn’t call it living really, just functioning, but now I am not so sure.

Yesterday I vacuumed the living room.  As usual, the vacuum cleaner barely worked. Irritated, I took it at apart.  Low and behold, all three filters were clogged, the hose was clogged in two places, and the beater bar was so covered in hair it looked like a legless ferret. Half and hour and 2 gallons of hair, lint and funk later, it works great. When you’re depressed, you feel like everything is broken, no one cares, and nothing really matters. Because everything I did felt pointless and shoddy, those feelings about the experience of vacuuming didn’t stick out from any other feelings I had. I felt that way about the work I put into relationships, school, music, and employment…why would housecleaning be any different?

I wonder how much this is going to help me with things like college?  Instead of being surprised I’m not going to fail in every single class I take, maybe the doubts I have about that class will be uniquely meaningful, and I’ll do better?  Regardless, at least I’ll have clean floors.

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