You won’t believe what the depression has put in my head.
“I will never fly in an airplane again.” “I will never go camping.” “I will never have a healthy relationship with myself or with others.” Depression makes it easy to think all or nothing.
In the hospital, never and always were my words of choice.
This was what got me there in the first place. But five almost six weeks later, these thoughts persist. Not as many and not as often, but I am on guard for their presence.
I know the depression wants to isolate me and make me feel like it is the only thing that has my best interests at heart. Pretty slick talk for something that has stolen 40 years of my life. For this reason, even though I am on to its game, I am still not out of the woods yet.
Depression is lurking, just off camera, waiting for a chance to make a dramatic entrance.
But finally, I am the casting director. This is sensational. I get to say who is on stage, and who gets to speak. It is my show now, not depressions.
Yet it throws bizarre thoughts at me. “You will never get another client.” You will never have friends.” “You will never be able to share your feeling with those you love.” Never, never, never.
And then there is always.
Because I will always have depression. I have said it and understand that this is true. I will be contending with this for the rest of my life. That is what I have come to grips with. And I finally understand the benefits of knowing about it, of learning everything I can about it, of saying its name.
Depression is less menacing when you say its name.
When you call it out, it isn’t nearly as powerful as when you ignore it, or conceal it, or symbolically kick it down the road. It was always there, just out of sight, tossing me the ideas that have given rise to impulsive behaviors. I want to know it is there now, not hide from it.
This is one of the ways I will make sure it is not my boss. I will call it out, make it show itself, and I will be my best advocate for not following its lead. The ideas it has given me still make me wince when I think about them.
“I will never fly again.”
What is that all about? Why would I even tell myself that? With all the flights I have taken over the years, why would I think that depression will keep me from ever flying again? It is almost like the depression is throwing out anything it can think of to keep me under its power. If you leave me, you will never fly again. If you leave me, who will tell you what to do? If you leave me, you will be out of control.
Yet I know that the depression wants me to think in ways that frighten, isolate, and are unhelpful. If it can get me back into all or nothing, always and never, then it has a chance of dragging me back under.
I am dumbfounded that I have thought these thoughts.
I have a pretty high IQ, and I possess common sense. During my working career, I have sniffed out BS with the best of them. As a result, I can see people’s ulterior motives and have a pretty good track record for knowing when people are telling the truth and when they are lying.
So how did the depression get these thoughts into my head?
Well that’s what it does. My chemical imbalance gave the depression a fertile place to grow. Like a well-tended compost pile, I was providing, thanks to my family history, the nutrients that would sprout depression. By the time I was 22, there was enough fuel to bring on a s&%t storm of depression.
To survive my first round with depression, I took my life on the road.
Literally. I began to run. Not just jogging or a mile or two now and then, but “Forest Gump” style running. In six months, I had gotten into the best shape of my life. As I took the physical for getting back into college, I remember the female doctors’ comments as she had me drop my shorts and turn my head and cough. Her comments were not appropriate, but very much appreciated at the time.
Remarkably, depression has filled my head with single minded thoughts many times since. I am still coming to grips with the costs to me and those around me of the depression. I am outraged that I did not understand what depression was doing, livid that I went along with its ideas, and infuriated that I was not aware of the impulsive behaviors I was acting out.
Depression has supplied me with impulsive behaviors.
It took 40 years, but it finally put me in the hospital. It made sure I did not tell anyone before I went. It had me thinking “they wouldn’t understand, they will be ashamed, I am too ashamed.” It challenged me, telling me I’d better just go, or it would show me a more permanent way to handle the depression. Not able to consider that, I chose the least chilling option.
As I work to understand and be on top of my depression, it still wants to give me ideas. I know that I must be vigilant and on top of what I am thinking. And I need to ask myself better questions about what I am thinking.
I know I will fly again.
I have thought this one through and see the faulty premise of its conclusion. But what else is it telling me? Have I really made the turn? I continue to press forward, with the goal of making the best life possible with depression. That is what I am thinking now.
Join me. Even I do not know what I will think next. Follow and you’ll find out as I do. No spam, just me.