Breaking Up the Crust

I recently discovered that my heart had grown, without me noticing, a thin, little crust.

I don’t mean that I’m cold hearted or unable to feel. If anything, I err on feeling too much. Every injustice in the news makes me angry. Every story of suffering makes my heart squeeze with the pain of it.

No, what I have is the result of my mental illness, not from my nature. I was born wearing my heart on my sleeve. I would throw full on tantrums at age twelve. I spoke my mind a little too much. I was an over-sharer. I hadn’t even realized I’d developed this crusty heart, until my therapist kept asking me, “Do you hide your depression?”

No, I told her. I don’t hide it. I talk about it on social media. I’ve blogged about it. All my friends know.

Then I sat with the question for a little bit longer.

I do hide my depression. I call it being strong. I call it not bothering people with my bad mood (that’s lasted years). I hide it when someone asks how I’ve been and I lie to them. I never talk freely about my bipolar disorder to anyone, really. I talk about it sometimes in the past tense, like it’s something that’s gone away, instead of the black dog it is, always by my side.

I realized why though–why I don’t talk about it and why I’ve got a crust. Because here’s the truly terrifying thing about depression. Being depressed is like having a hole. A hole of emotional need. The natural thing to do is to look to other people to fill it. And when you look to other people to fill it, it doesn’t work. At least, not much. Because depression is a bitch, and it can’t be placated with things like a nice snuggle or a good talk with a friend. You battle depression in your head, by yourself, using tools you don’t have and willpower that depression itself has sucked from you. It’s an impossible scenario.

Pretty soon into depression, I talked myself into believing that if I didn’t want to be a soul-sucking, leech of a mother, wife, friend, that I had to keep my depression to myself. But keeping it to myself made a crust of isolation and an independent, stubborn, strong streak. Because I wasn’t meeting my emotional needs, for years at a time. Having untreated bipolar disorder closed me off, and it made me reluctant to be vulnerable with people.

Now, I’m slowly learning that the world doesn’t end if I talk about it. That I’m still loveable even if I’m depressed. It’s not easy to trust that I don’t need to be so strong, such an impenetrable fortress. I’m stepping away from my self-induced isolation, and slowly, I’m breaking up the crust.

4 thoughts on “Breaking Up the Crust

  1. Thanks for letting us have a peek of your struggles as vulnerable as it is. When one share things as such, it only creates admiration for me. I love you more than words can say, I think you know what I mean having children of your own. As a mom I want to take all the pain away and kiss it better- if only it could be that simple.
    I don’t know first hand the emotions of your struggles, that specific challenge hasn’t been mine, but I can love you unconditionally with all my heart, and lend a listening ear. You’re my little girl with the big brown eyes and I’ll always be your mom loving you through it all. Struggles refine us and I see a beautiful influential woman in those big brown eyes touching and helping others. Thanks for being my girl and I’m glad to be your mom! You’re amazing!

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  2. Thanks for sharing so we can understand a little of what you have to deal with every day. A part of our test on this earth is to see how we will deal with the challenges we are given. We love you so much and hope that you will always know that.

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  3. I love and adore you to Kara! You will always be a brilliant bright being of light with the big brown eyes as your mother said to me. Many of the great people of the world struggled with depression, Beethoven, for one. You are one of the great’s! I think when we travel to the depths of our souls we relate to life more fully and completely. The more we feel anything the more we feel everything, including joy. I don’t know about you but I would rather travel to the deepest valley so I can also experience the highest peaks fully. We can not block out any emotion without blocking out the rest as well (creating the crust around our hearts). I have certainly had my rounds with depression, and still do at times. I actually call it integration. I feel everything very deeply as well and I feel that when I am down about the things that go strait into my heart I just need time to integrate and heal. Perhaps you just have a vision of a better world and feel sad about the illusions that hold us back from our own brilliance. That is how I would describe myself. I am glad you feel more open to share your real feelings and know that you are completely loved as your authentic expression in any given moment. For me feeling is healing. When I ask someone how they are doing…I really want to know. I celebrate your willingness to be real. To me there is nothing more beautiful. If everyone had the courage to share what is really happening in their heart in any given moment I think we would all realize that we are in it together and far more alike than anything. I heard a quote in a book years ago that read “we are all so much together but dying of loneliness”. This was once my experience but the more I allow ALL of my feelings to have expression with self love the more alive and connected to others I feel. I celebrate all you have shared and am inspired by your journey. It takes courage to be vulnerable and visible. I think it is the greatest give we can give each other. Thanks for being that for me today!!! You are a champion, a leader, and a warrior. I couldn’t ask for a more spectacular niece. I adore you!

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  4. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13 ** Praying for you to find joy amidst the struggles you face. Your post was written on my birthday and I felt compelled to just reassure you, in some small way, that things will work out for the best, just don’t give up. 🙂 I love your work (currently doing a quilled monogram project for my boss’ party) and I know that being creative has both ecstasy and agony existing contemporaneously in the most beautiful minds. 😉

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