Finding “The Point” When Depression Tells You There Isn’t One

What’s the point in pushing forward when I feel like I don’t get anywhere?

“What’s the point?”

It was the middle of the night and I had woken up to pee. There I was, sitting on the toilet, half asleep in the dark and wondering about the meaning of life. I was at a low point. Finances were tight, depression was over for a visit, and the emotional melting pot of the holiday season was beginning to bubble. The struggle felt like it would never end. My brain chemicals were telling me that I’d never have any of the big things I wanted: kids, extended travel, security. I felt empty, and that enormous little question was echoing around in the hollows within me.

What’s the point?

What’s the point in pushing forward when I feel like I don’t get anywhere?What’s the point in cleaning when it just gets dirty again?
What’s the point in eating when nothing sounds good?
What’s the point in going to the gym when trying to fit it in is so stressful?
What’s the point in making the bed when you just crawl back in anyway?
What’s the point in getting out of bed at all?

I have high functioning depression, and can usually tackle my regular tasks without too much trouble. Most people wouldn’t even know unless I told them, and there are plenty of days when I feel carefree, happy, and perfectly fine. Once in a while I even doubt myself. Perhaps I don’t really have depression at all, just the occasional funk. But there are also plenty of days when I am saving my tears for when I’m alone, or when I am muddling through mind fog with a forced smile plastered on my face. And there are a few days now and then when I want to curl up outside in the cold and fall asleep, or when I vaguely imagine lying down across the railroad tracks, or when I simply wish it could all be over. No matter how skilled I am at finding the silver lining, and the lesson, and something sweet in with the sour, there are still times when it’s just not enough.

This was most definitely one of those times.

I went back to bed, but in the morning the hollowness was still there with a gnawing ache inside, like a hunger I didn’t know how to feed. I plodded through my day, going through the motions, enjoying a few genuine moments of laughter and connection with those around me. But the emptiness persisted. My world was grey. And still I wondered, “What’s the point?” It wasn’t until three days later that I finally found an answer.

It was night again, of course. Night is when everything quiets down and we can hear and feel things that are otherwise drowned out during the day. Desperate to assuage the hungry question in my gut, I realized that I’d been on the wrong track — imagining better days ahead was too abstract to do me any good. Those goals I was longing for were too far away, with too many steps to get there. I was looking to the uncertain landscape of the future, to dreams that were too big for my depressed pain body to swallow. If it was to receive any nourishment, it would have to be spoon-fed. I needed smaller “points.”

I began making a mental list:

The “point” is when that little girl bounces into the restaurant when I’m hostessing and cries out my name with unbridled joy, and then asks me to draw her a picture of Cinderella or Ariel.

The “point” is the way my dog is so excited to see me when I get home, and how my cat climbs into my lap, curls up, closes her eyes and purrs.

The “point” is the fact that I got invited to a Halloween party this year, and that I went, and that I had fun.

The “point” is how friends and clients come to me for insight and support along their journey, and that they offer me the same in return.

The “point” is that I have a plethora of creative ideas that are patiently waiting for me to breathe life into them.

The “point” is when my boyfriend brings me tea and snacks when I have been holed up in my office for too long.

The “point” is that I’m learning new practices, new insights, and new techniques — for crafting, baking, spirituality, self-awareness, and business — which are helping me to grow every day.

The “point” is that I can wiggle my toes, and take a deep breath, and run my fingers through my hair.

The “point” is playing with sidewalk chalk, and making snow angels, and hugging loved ones, and good music, and favorite movies, and a hot cup of tea.

I discovered that while searching for large, profound purposes was more than I had energy for, going small allowed me to feed my pain body bite-size amounts of goodness. I grounded myself in the present, and in facts, and in the tiniest joys. These were attainable. These I could do. And slowly, one “spoonful” at a time, the hollowness was being filled. Maybe it wasn’t enough to take away my depression, but it took away the hopelessness.

It fed the hunger.

It answered the question.

I will always walk side by side with depression.

It is a part of me, and it is intrinsically connected to my ability to feel all things deeply, which is a trait I appreciate. I do not resent it (most of the time). I desire to work with it rather than working through or around it. It is a hungry desperate thing, needing nourishment, needing to be seen and heard, and I am learning how to feed and comfort it instead of pushing it away. I am learning to embrace it and, in effect, soften its effects.

So what then, in short, is “the point?”

In one word: Love.

Giving love. Receiving love. And a love of self and all that makes us who we are, even on our darkest and most hollow of nights.

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J Haley Phillips

J Haley Phillips

I’m an editor/writer/coach with a focus on inspiring, empowering, and healing content. I love tea, travel, long hippie skirts, and diving deep into the Self.