The more I learn about depression, the more I see how crafty and stealth it can be.
It works just below the conscious level, moving things around at will, so in the end, it pushes you up against the wall. Well, at least that has been my experience.
It sneaks around the edges of my life and then springs on me when everything seems to be going great. Depression is not user-friendly. It does not play well with others.
Other bloggers I follow tell of similar outcomes. Check out this great post on the subject by J.E. Skye:
He talks about how things were going well. And then, BAM. Up against the wall.
I have written about the realization that this will happen to me again in the future:
You might be thinking; how do you live with this?
Well, the emphasis is on living. There are those who have made other choices and are not living anymore. This is the cold hard truth. But I am scared shitless of dying. I am too chicken to do that. So, it leaves two other choices.
One is to keep doing what I have been doing and expect a different result.
It took me over 40 years to finally see that this is crazy. The best this strategy did was to kick the confrontation further down the road. But by not facing my depression, by not calling its name, by not seeing what havoc it was causing, I was just playing into its hands.
The other choice I have and have finally chosen is to seek professional help. This turned out to be the least frightening of my choices. And going into the emergency room and saying, “I need help addressing my mental health” was damn scary. But given the other choices, it was all I could do.
Learning all I can about depression is my first goal.
I have been doing this since the day I went into the hospital. I have devoured every resource I can find. I am going to meetings, I am meeting with therapists, and I am reading everything I can, on and offline.
There are so many great resources about depression out there.
And I have used many of them already. I have found or been given worksheets that help me evaluate unhelpful thinking styles. These worksheets have given me better questions to ask and remind me that it is not all or nothing. There are always different choices to consider.
Depression will mask those and hide them from you. Recently, it pushed me so hard against the wall that I could not see any future. I couldn’t see any choices. I couldn’t see a way forward.
And now, things are much better.
But just as my fellow blogger wrote, depression will be back. As things begin to open, I am starting to peak over my shoulder. I am checking out the corners and the dark places, wondering where and when depression will make its next attack.
Realizing that this will be true for the rest of my life is almost disheartening.
It can easily overwhelm a person and make them feel hopeless. Maybe that’s one reason I never wanted to confront it.
Truth be told, had I figured out a way to get past this episode of depression, you would not be reading this.
More than anything, until the moment I showered, shaved, dressed, and drove to the emergency room, I wanted to hide, to conceal my depression. Well at that point, I just wanted to hide. I did not want to talk about it until I couldn’t stand it any longer.
Now the reality of the mental health disease I have is that it will be with me for the rest of my life.
And I have gotten over the disheartening feelings and am now in the “depression is not my boss” mode. If I am going to face this, I am going to face it with everything I’ve got. I’m not a half-ass kind of person. Once I make my mind up, I give it my all.
And I have the results to back it up.
There have been so many times in my life that I have reached the goals that I set for myself. Achievements, big and small have been a part of my past.
The depression sets the stage so that I see my positive achievements in the smallest possible light while seeing my disappointments magnified to the nth power.
With depression, there is no middle ground. It’s all or nothing.
So, when I have thought about different plans in the past, I was framing them based on the depressions idea of what to look at. Any normal person would see that this type of thinking is unhelpful. Yet I have been so ingrained in the unhelpful way of thinking, I am still figuring out how to stop it.
For right now, I am very happy that I can generally catch the thoughts before I act on them. I am identifying these automatic thoughts that the depression throws into my head. I will say to myself. “that doesn’t seem logical or what would a normal person think or say about that?” And then I will slow down and do some more research. From what I read and hear from others this will get easier with practice.
But identifying these thoughts is something I will need to do for the rest of my life.
Even in the hospital, my three-point plan included learning the signs that depression was returning. I want to know ahead of time so I can catch it before I fall off the ledge and plunge into the abyss. Each dive gets deeper and the wall I slam into gets stronger and harder.
I am excited to be taking a class on how to put together a WRAP plan. I will have my own personal Wellness Recovery Action Plan when the class is done. In the workbook, each week, I am adding things that will help me differentiate between just having a bad day and having a relapse into the depression.
As I get better, falling back into deep depression is my biggest fear.
I am putting a lot of time into getting my plan as detailed as possible. And I am including as many support people and groups as I can find. Knowing where I have just been, having it fresh in my mind, is very motivating.
Having a WRAP plan is like an insurance blanket.
It will help protect me and the ones I love as I go forward in my life. But the only way it will work is if I don’t get complacent. That feeling of “things are great, so I don’t need to take my medicine anymore” is one way depression can gain control. I can see at least one time where I did this. And predictably, the next thing that I know I am up against the wall.
Letting my guard down with depression lurking in the shadows is something I cannot do again.
I have finally acknowledged that, accepted that, and faced that truth. So here I am, moving forward as I see there will be more than one way to choose. I am finding myself more consistently optimistic about the future for the first time in several years.
I want to be more than “comfortably glum.”
So, I continue to do the work. I get to decide what my future looks like. This is the best possible outcome because I am the one who will live it.
Join my journey and be the first to know what I am thinking next because even I am not sure.