How can I stay out of the depths of despair?
How can I recognize what’s going on in my head before I become obsessed with one idea, one thought, one depression guided way of thinking?
I think the first thing is to acknowledge that I have depression. “But it doesn’t have me.” I am doing that every day. I am learning everything I can about how it works and how it has gotten me to think in unhelpful ways over the past 40 years.
Depression has robbed me of 40 years of my life.
Boy that makes me angry. Thinking about the choices I have made using depression as my guide, I am so pissed. I can’t believe anything could be so evil. And yet, I followed along, oblivious to all the signs that were there. I can imagine someone without depression would see right through what it was getting me to think, to believe, to blindly act on.
Depression makes it hard to separate being mad at it, and mad at myself.
It can be so easy to start the blame game. I should have done this. Why didn’t I just do that? And then the labeling would begin. You are such a … for doing … I feel that if I start down this path, I may never come back. So, I keep making a conscious effort, every day, to avoid labeling.
This is one place where I feel I have maintained the upper hand against my depression. It has pushed me into corners, up against walls, and distorted my reality. But it will never get me to call myself stupid. Do you hear that depression?
You will never get me to call myself stupid.
And with that focus on not labeling, I view that as a form of self-care. And self-care is one of the ways I will keep depression from overpowering me. Recognizing the need for and the value of being kind to myself is one of the tools I am using to keep depression from being the boss of me.
So, I am going to WRAP.
Starting next week, I will be attending an 8-week program. I will be learning how to construct my own personal Wellness Recovery Action Plan. From the first day, I decided to face depression rather than hiding it and pretending I didn’t see it; my plan was built around three steps. The first two steps include learning everything I can about depression.
Then, I need to know what to do when I start down the rabbit hole.
Recognizing ahead of time when I am going off the rails is a huge focus for me as I recover. I want to know what triggers my bouts of depression. What do I look like when I am well? What do I look like when I’m starting down the road to deep depression? And I know what I look like when I’m bottoming out. (I was just there.)
This is clearest in my mind today. What “up against the wall” looks like. Filling in the other two pieces will be the parts that will pull it all together. I want to know what my triggers are. What does it look like as I begin to hear the depression calling? How can I know that unhelpful thinking styles are ready to take over my thoughts and shove me right back against the wall?
I am not going back to the bottom again.
Now that I have said, “I have depression,” I am not going back to pretending it doesn’t exist. I am not going back to the all or nothing thinking that has wreaked such havoc and unpredictability in my life. I refuse to go back to the impulsive, “who the F*%k cares what anyone else thinks, this is the only way” type of thinking that the depression offers me.
It is a trap.
It is an easy way out. Or the depression makes it appear that it is the easy way. It pushes any other thoughts into the realm of bad, of annoying, of being against me. Then it pushes me into secrecy because only I have the right plan, no one else understands.
Depression is very judgmental.
When I have listened to it in the past, I have devalued everyone else I care about. The trusted opinions of friends and family are just pushed aside. While not the enemy, as such, depression tells me they are not to be trusted. They will try to get me to do something that the depression doesn’t want. So, it doubles down, pushing me harder and harder towards the wall.
It’s not fair, but it is what I have been dealt.
That is why I am looking forward to starting the WRAP program. I see a tremendous benefit for myself. I see a tremendous benefit for my family and my extended community. I want to enjoy them, to be part of them, to share their lives and experiences. Not be walled off in an “it’s all about me” depressive bubble.
Each day I am growing stronger. I see new ways to learn more about depression. I see myself learning how to manage it, to face it, to show it who is boss. Going to the WRAP program is another way I am saying, “I have depression, depression does not have me.”
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