Is depression my reason for living?
After all, I have grown up with depression. We have been together for over 43 years, probably longer. And much of my life was spent not facing my depression.
Heck, I was the expert on hiding my depression every time it would come around. I could certainly be the poster child for concealed depression.
And then, I can sweep the leftovers under the rug faster than anyone.
I wasn’t the least bit curious as to what had happened. All I can think about after a run-in with depression is “how can I get back to normal?” “How can I make it like it never happened?” I was incredibly careful not to think about what had happened or break it down so I would be able to learn from it.
Having a depressive episode left me with tremendous shame and guilt.
Because I learned to be Evergreen, always unflappable, having depression was not something that I would allow. Other people might have it, but not me. I am the strong one, the pillar, the rock when things go south. I am there for others to lean on. How could I possibly have depression?
43 years later, I am in the hospital finally facing my depression.
The reality is this is not any scarier than not facing my depression. In fact, finding out what has been going on in my life explains many of my most destructive actions. Looking behind the curtain I see what was going on. Depression would tee up the supposed problem, and I would start taking swings at it. I would never ask questions of depression or stop to think that maybe this was unhelpful thinking.
Depression said it, so it must be true.
Most recently, depression told me things were going too well and I needed to abruptly change my plans and retire early. Depression prefers my secrecy, so I only shared my ideas with my immediate family. This was not, what do you think? It was more, I’m going to do this.
Not having a REAL plan for what I would do, I tried to focus on my Resume business.
But depression wasn’t done yet. It had gotten me to retire, now it wanted to show me why I should Not have listened to it. Depression began to chip away at my self-esteem, at my ability to recharge my emotional batteries through interactions with people. And it found ways to keep me from focusing on the business it told me to focus on.
It was 10 months before I got serious about my resume and career coaching business.
I have been writing resumes for over 11 years. And I have made money doing it. I have held Career Boot Camps at colleges and Universities. I have trained teachers and job-seeking clients for the Dept of Labor. With three certifications, my success rate for my clients has been over 90%. And did I mention doing resume critiques for National Career Fair events in four states?
Depression did not want me to excel at this as a full-time profession.
It made clear I was to spend my days not doing what I had said I would do when I decided to retire early. The sad part for me is, just before I went up in flames, I finally had figured out how to focus on my clients. Just before I toppled over into the abyss, I had finally begun to do what I said I would do 12 months before.
Yet by then, depression had me circling the drain and I was heading the wrong way down a one-way street. A crash was inevitable. But the saving grace of this accident was I finally went to the hospital. People tell me I am brave for having chosen to get help. But I do not see bravery. After all, I spent some 43 years, NOT getting help. 43 years Not facing what was going on or wanting to understand why it was happening.
Getting professional help was the least frightening choice that day.
I was afraid to heal. Afraid that it wouldn’t work for me, that I was too far gone. And I am still carrying around tremendous shame and guilt for not having addressed my depression sooner. Once again, it is easy to get out the “coulda, woulda, shoulda cards,” and spend the day in self-pity.
If you have read this far and can relate to my situation, I can tell you getting professional help works.
And having nothing to lose at that point, I went into the hospital with an open mind. If the doctors couldn’t teach me what I needed to know, I could still choose another option. Even though I am too competitive to take my life, it is still a fallback position.
So, depression is no longer my reason for living.
I am exploring my life, just like me. What I look like when I am well, what my triggers are, and what I need to do when things don’t feel right. This is empowering. And little successes build up my confidence, just as little disappointments had torn down my self-esteem.
Healing has not been a straight line and the journey has not been easy at times.
But I am moving forward and where I am now, beats the heck out of where I was then. Depression still wants me to come out and play. I suspect it will still be trying to get my attention to the very end. But with the tools, I have now and a new lease on life, I see depressions role as a cameo appearance at most in the remaining film of my life. Sort of like Stan Lee in the Marvel Comic Movies.
I am glad to say, “I have depression, depression does not have me.”
My concealed depression is written under the alias “Depression is not my boss.” I have certifications in SMART Recovery and am a Global Career Development Facilitator.
Diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder last year, I am sharing what I learn. If you know someone who might benefit from reading this, please share.
I very much appreciate your comments.