The ever-brilliant Nadia Bolz-Weber advises us to preach from our scars, and not from open wounds. It’s solid advice, and advice that I try generally to follow in my writing, not just because writing from a bleeder is scary and traumatic and painful, but also because as you heal your perspective tends to shift a little when the absence of throbbing pain leaves room for more wisdom and grace to move in.

That said, I’m writing to you today from an open wound, so be gentle on me please. I’m still pretty deep down in the trenches with this one, still doing battle, and I’m tired and weepy and very distracted. But this is important enough to break all the rules, mine or otherwise, so here goes:

Yesterday, I caught myself singing.

Now this all by itself may seem small or inconsequential, and it probably is to anyone but me. But, you see, I used to sing all the time. It was a quirk of mine, one of many, and a poor choice of one at that because I am a terrible singer, all throat and no melody like a man who smoked for too long and now has to try to hum a tune out of his tracheotomy hole.

But no matter, because I sang anyway. And the songs themselves, well, they were not even songs as much as jingles, little ditties I made up on the spot about whatever I was doing at the time: changing a diaper or feeding the dog or peeing or contemplating the awful state of modern politics. It pleased me greatly if they rhymed, but this wasn’t a requirement, and likewise if they made sense. Mostly I gave myself a little peppy soundtrack to my life, because we all need the things that help us make sense of the world, right?

Anyway, somewhere along the line I stopped singing. I don’t know when it happened exactly, and I don’t know if it was a sudden ceasing or a slow trickle down to nothing like when I turn my bathroom faucet off. All I know is the singing was one of the first things to go and then other things followed: my social life and my yoga practice and my sleep and my self-care until recently I took a look around and realized that maybe the reason I felt so lonely was because I had dug myself so deep into a hole that no one could even reach me.

In short, I was depressed.

Scratch that- I AM depressed.

So a few weeks ago I threw up a rope and called out for help and got myself, finally, on some meds. It’s not my first time doing so but it’s my first time in a long time and I had put it off and put it off because I had started to buy into all that crap about how if I just thought the right thoughts or ate the right foods or made the conscious decision to be happy I would be fine.

But that’s some dangerous bullshit right there.

So when I sat down next to my babies and heard them running and playing like it was coming at me from far away because it was–because I was down in that hole, you see–and I missed them so ferociously that it threatened to crack me open, I picked up the phone right then and called my doctor and said:  “enough. Let’s do this.”

It has only been a little while and hopefully it won’t have to be forever (although if it does, that’s okay too) and I wasn’t sure anything of note was even happening at all yet until I was standing in my kitchen yesterday scrubbing the crust off of the cookware and there was a throaty voice rumbling in my ear and I was like “hey, I know that voice.”

“That’s me.”

And oh how I had missed me! As soon as I had done it I wanted to do it again, and again and again, until I had thoroughly frightened the kids and annoyed the husband and made myself giggle and dance a little impromptu jig across the kitchen. And I’ve been doing it ever since, singing little dumb made-up-on-the-spot diddies, although I’m trying not to do it at work or in the public bathroom stall or the checkout aisle at Target because I don’t want anyone to think I’m having a seizure or shoot me with a stun gun.

I don’t mean to imply that it’s as simple as that either, there’s a lot of work left to do and I can still feel sadness so deep inside of me that there’s a hollowed-out space where it sat so big, and life is still flinging its best shit at me like a deranged short order cook, but I do want to say this:

Even if you are there, deep in the hole where it’s so dark that maybe you forgot it could even be light; even if you can barely make out the sound of your people playing in the room where you’re sitting; even if you feel all alone and teeny weeny and like no one can see you when they walk past:

What you feel right now is real.

It is not your fault.

This is not where it ends.

There is still a song inside of you yet.

And get some help. Your people need you.

 

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I'm Treating My Depression So I Can Sing Again | lizpetrone.com

11 thoughts on “There is a Song Inside of You Yet

  • Jerry

    I know what you are talking about, I have been there. I still take medicine for it, I don’t want to be in that hole again?

    • Liz

      SO much love to you Jerry. Always.

  • Sosha Lewis

    “That is some dangerous bullshit right there.” Indeed. I went through a similar phase last year. I had taken myself off the meds because…uhh, you know, I’m in control. I’ll run and cycle and write these demons away. Yeah, not so much. I spent three months last winter on my couch – from the time I dropped my daughter off, until the time I picked her up – watching The Gilmore Girls. I wasn’t working out, I wasn’t writing, hell, I wasn’t even reading. I avoided my friends. I convinced myself that I was fine because I was still taking care of my family. Yeah, that’s was bullshit!! It was the night that I heard my daughter sternly lecturing the dog and realized that it sounded just like me that I decided to go get some meds. I told my best friend, a lawyer and the one that dealt with a lot of my shit, to draw up a contract stating that I wouldn’t try to “self-heal” ever again! 😉 So much is better now! Keep singing and keep writing!

    • Liz

      Sosha! You pretty much verbatim described my winter, except sub out Shameless for Gilmore Girls, which is probably worse because it’s definitely not family friendly. I’m glad you are back on your feet and I’m looking forward to joining you. The road is long but it’s good to know it’s lined with strong women.

  • Lori McCullough

    I got help 🙂 And continue to have to justify medications to correct a neurotransmitter imbalance I was born with; how I haven’t “changed” … I’m just not slightly short of psychotic anymore. You learn to tune the know-it-alls out, because telling them to “*** my ****” isn’t ladylike at all but that’s where you go. And pills, and therapy, and eating right, living well looks so fabulous on paper doesn’t it? But our brain is a wondrous and mysterious organ. It has no rules. It lives the way it’s designed and every single one is different. It doesn’t know “willpower” in the context of emotions/thinking. So everyone (EVERYONE) please listen to your heart and gut and Liz. Ask for help to keep you off the ledge. I need a little more. After 25 years I’m tired of the dreams and wet pillows and no hugs and “yes, I’m awesome!” And I want to hear Liz keep on singing … she’s on her way out. I love that <3

    • Liz

      “But our brain is a wondrous and mysterious organ. It has no rules. It lives the way it’s designed and every single one is different. ” YES. So much yes. Soldier on, sister in arms.

  • Karen DeBonis

    Self care and self healing takes so many forms. Just like we can get brainwashed by McDonalds commercials that a BigMac will make us feel so good, we can fall under the influence of the “safe and natural” community that would have us believe all drugs are bad. What’s right and what works for you is what’s right and what works. Period. Keep on singing, Liz!

    • Liz

      Your comment is so timely Karen- I let myself entertain the idea of a Big Mac (well, Whopper, but same basic model) just today! But I held out. Self care takes many forms, doesn’t it? And writing here is a big one for me. Thanks for being in my court.

  • Honest Mum

    This is a beautiful reminder that those suffering will sing again, thank you and wishing you well xx

  • Angie

    I read your article on Mighty and just had to comment. I am so excited for you!! Coming out of a depression is a very buzzare feeling. You start realising you are coming back to life by these seemingly ‘little things’. Yes, most healthy people wouldn’t know how momentous it is to catch your self singing but it is. It’s not just that. It’s also that smile and feeling of happiness you experience when you realise you just did it. This may be followed by the big grey cloud soon after but the fact that you can feel it, the relief that you are still human and the hope it gives is something so wonderful. I don’t think I ever lived so aware than those months when I started coming out of the depression. I am so happy for you!! And don’t forget to treasure these moments!! Angie xxx

    • Liz

      Hi Angie! Thank you for this lovely comment! I’m so glad to be back in the world of optimism and possibility. It’s never necessarily easy, but at least it’s moving forward. There’s so much joy in that.

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