Kat Atwell is a freelance writer, blogger & stage presence telling stories that deliver laughs, validation & community.

Mental Health | Wellness & Self Image | Experiential & Reviews

Circumstances.

Sometimes, depression appears without reason. You wake up one day and your soul just hurts. Your ninja shit brain has had an energy drink or something, launching an attack on your self-worth, leaving you hopeless and helpless.

Other times, however, depression shows up as a result of circumstances. And for the past month, that’s all I’ve had - CIRCUMSTANCES.

I tried really hard to keep my head above water, and I think (again, given the circumstances) I’d done really well. There was a car accident (I’m OK), some heavy therapy breakthroughs, a memorial service for a wonderful man, a friend moved away…lots of hard things. And that’s nowhere near all of it.

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My cat, Tiger, fell asleep for the last time in my arms on February 11th, too. That, above all else, hurt my heart the most. I still cry when I say (or think) his name. When people offer condolences, my eyes well up. When I think about our other two cats, and how they must be confused about why he’s gone, I get choked up. I bet they miss him. But, they’re not my cats. Tiger was my cat. So, while I live with two other kitties, they’re not exactly mine. I’m crying as I write this. Seeing his picture makes me cry, waking up in the middle of the night and knowing I can’t hold him in my arms and feel his purr against my chest as I fall back asleep - it’s just so much.

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So, slowly, despite my best efforts, the depression appeared. My sleep has obviously gone to hell, which is a huge part of it, but so is the constant barrage of badness. And being sad and being depressed are two different things. I am sad Tiger is gone. I’m sad I hit a parked car. But when you pile a bunch of events that cause sadness into this huge pile of dirty life laundry, suddenly it’s possible to experience a shift. It’s too much. It’s too heavy.

It’s not an inevitable shift, by the way. I live with depression. For some, it might never reach that space. And that is wonderful. I’m jealous.

Shame piles on top of my sadness, telling me I should be moving through my grief faster. I shouldn’t be isolating myself. I should be cleaning more, cooking more, making healthier choices.

I think I’d avoided my blog this past month because I didn’t want to write about sad stuff. And in avoiding this (and SO many other things), it just festered inside. So, now we’re here. And as much as I want to apologize to you, the reader, I think I’m going to apologize to myself instead.

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I’m sorry I tried to force a schedule on how you grieve. I’m sorry I made you feel bad for crying. I shouldn’t have made you feel bad about the cluttered counter in your bathroom or the fact that you needed to vacuum. Those things can be done in their own time. I’m so, so sorry that you’ve been struggling to sleep. I know how that impacts everything in your life. I’m sorry about how much your back hurt after your accident, and that you felt you should just power through it because it was the result of an impact that was your fault. Your friends love and support you. Your family loves and supports you. Love yourself like they love you. It’s OK to slow down. It’s better for you (and for them!) if you do. And you can ask for help, even when you don’t think you qualify as depressed “enough.”

Also, look at all the good stuff you’ve managed to accomplish in the past month (I’m not writing it all down here, but trust that good stuff has, in fact, happened). Don’t attack yourself for not having enough gratitude, or for focusing more on the “bad” than the “good.”

Pay attention to this next part:

IT IS POSSIBLE TO EXPERIENCE DEPRESSION EVEN WHEN YOU’VE HAD GOOD THINGS HAPPEN IN YOUR LIFE. DEPRESSION IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

This is where I am right now. I’m not alone. I do need to find a new therapist, as mine left the practice unexpectedly last Thursday. But, I have recommendations from people I trust.

It’s gonna be OK. Hey, I showered.

40 in my 40s

Just a number.