At least that is how it feels today.
Today I had a 3-month update with my psychiatrist who is handling my depression medicine. When asked how I was doing, I could confidently say, “I am doing very well.” And I mean it. We agreed I would stay on 300 grams of Wellbutrin XL and that I would see her in 4 months this time. I left feeling good.
Yet on the ride home, I admitted to myself that I still sometimes struggle to keep my depression from taking over.
The thing is, depression is much more subtle these days. I don’t have the feeling of “up against the wall.” I can see my future and from here it looks mighty good. But I am reminded almost daily, that I still have depression. That I must be aware of what it needs and how it feeds (Sorry I couldn’t help it). I lie to myself when I tell myself that I am over depression.
I see myself as normal, with no depression.
And then I find myself reliving one of the uglier moments of my depression. My mind is catapulted to a place and time where I felt out of control, where I was making bad decisions. I was giving in to the plan depression had created, nurtured, and feed to me until I believed it was my plan. Once I was on board, the plan disintegrated, and I was all alone.
Paying the bill was not what depression would do, and reliving these events is painful.
It was I that bore the brunt of each undertaking, each adventure that would take me into the abyss. I had to deal with the aftereffects and put things back together again. I tell myself that there was only a hand full of times that depression did this to me. But these were just the big, glaring, obvious disasters that depression put me in front of.
Thinking back to even a few days ago, I can see where depression is still trying to slip in ideas that will derail my effort to lead a balanced life.
I confided in my psychiatrist that there are times where I begin to ruminate on the what-ifs. What if I hadn’t done so and so? What if I had seen this first before I was circling the drain? Making a conscious effort to let those moments go requires a lot of energy.
Turning my thoughts to the present is my plan for depression. It makes it mad because depression loves to live in the past, making me feel like you know what. Depression is not happy if I am happy, it wants me to feel bad, sullen, secretive.
Having to be secretive, now that’s the one thing I hate most about depression.
Depression tells me that only it knows the true path, that only depression cares about me. Everyone else in the entire world is not to be trusted. Depression reminds me I should never talk about the plans it is making for me with anyone. They will only mess it up. It knows that people who care about me will see depressions plan for what it is. And the plan is never pretty, and it never ends well.
I’m still paying back the cost of my hospital stay. Those 4 days in 5 East cost over $9,200.
And there are still outstanding amounts owed to Region 10 for their services after I was released. I am doing the things I need to do to pay it off. At the time, I had marketplace insurance that did not seem to cover any mental health issues. So I am 100% responsible for this cost.
Something made me stop writing my online blog, my public journal, several months ago.
I figured I was cured, and I didn’t need to blog anymore. Since I wasn’t that person any longer, I didn’t need the structure and support that blogging gave me. I was suddenly too cool to be seen writing a depression blog. I even began to see myself without depression, running my side business as a resume writer and career coach. And as work came to me, I once again embraced it.
Looking at my blog today, I cannot believe that I stopped after my 399th post.
One more post and I was at 400, a milestone of effort and commitment to my recovery. And yet I stopped. I did not write it. I was whole, I couldn’t possibly have depression anymore. Why fiddle with writing when I was certain I did not need to write about depression any longer?
I thought I was moving on to my future without depression.
Someone somewhere was laughing when I stopped writing. I am sure someone said, “just wait and see.” But I wasn’t hearing any of that. Heck, I was now a highly productive manager, a business owner, a caring husband, a father, and most recently, a grandfather. With all the good, and great in front of me, I was certain depression was in the rear-view mirror.
And to be honest, I have not crashed and burned.
But it hit me today that I still have depression. It may be small, meek, and unassuming right now, but we have a history together. And depression knows how to push my buttons. It knows how to tell me stories and give me ideas. Then it starts to get me feeling like the plan is my idea. And you know where it ends up.
I have a wellness recovery action plan on the wall of my home office.
I just opened it for the first time in months. It outlines what I look like when I am well, when I am a little off my game, and when I am circling the drain, heading for the abyss. More than that, it lists tools I chose that can correct depressions grip. There are lists of things I can do, names of people I can call.
Having a support network is new for me.
I still can feel like I am bothering people even when they call just to see how I am doing. They call me and I figure out ways not to keep them on the phone too long. It is easy to say “oh they must have more important things to do than spend time talking to me.” Seeing that as truth is one of depression’s tricks.
So here I am, writing again.
It seems I still need this. I still need to work out my long-term relationship with depression. Today, depression shot one across my bow. I remember that I have depression, depression does not have me. And I will have depression for the rest of my life. And if I am going to make the most of my life, I must do a better job of understanding my depression.
My wellness Recovery Action Plan is real.
The need for it, for me, is real. If I forget that I have depression, it is the same as sweeping it under the rug. And I am sure good at that. Plus it festers under the rug and comes out the next time even more robust and dangerous.
My depression benefited from my pause in writing.
It became stronger and more determined to find a new way to bring me into the abyss. And even knowing that this could happen, I stopped writing. It has been almost 90 days since my last post. 90 days of being aware of depression’s way of doing business.
Today I am back to writing my blog. I remember why I started it and why I am writing down my thoughts, as jumbled as they sometimes can be. I will once again be using my blog to work out my relationship with depression. When I started, I committed to writing the truth. This is still my plan.