It’s a disease after all.
It can’t exactly be the enemy, because it is a part of me. Trying to understand how to frame my relationship with depression has been complicated.
Not only is it a disease, but it is also a mental health issue. That makes it nowhere near as straight forward as cancer. Or today, Covid19.
Yet there are some attributes of coronavirus that remind me of depression.
One thing is how little we know about how it is transmitted. What we knew two weeks ago is not what we know today. And while the basic premise of “social distancing” is working, when people can transmit the virus to others is still unclear. There may be people who have had the virus and never knew it. And yet, at the same time, thousands are dying from it.
So, back to my depression.
What is it that keeps it active? What can I do to minimize its grip on me? Does it have a grip on me or am I holding on to it, because that is all I have known in my adult life? My therapist cautioned me about viewing depression as the enemy. In fact, that’s when she brought up the bumper sticker, she saw the said: “I don’t always fight with my demons, sometimes we cuddle together.” As much as it pained me to say it, that is spot on.
Knowing what a person does, versus what he or she says, can show you their true nature.
Without even going down the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” road, I can say for sure that my actions have shown my love for depression. Depression knew just what to say to have me keep everyone at arm’s length. I was social distancing well before it was the cool thing to do. And depression was very good at getting me to keep secrets.
And I never questioned depression or looked behind the curtain to see what was really going on.
I was afraid too, I suppose. Not sure what I would find, I was sure that the enemy I knew, was better than the enemy I didn’t know. So, for 43+ years, I bumped along, not wanting to know the truth.
Now, all I want is the truth.
READ MORE: Which new normal? MDD or Covid19?
How does depression work? What tools can I use to live a balanced life? When depression sets up an unhelpful thinking style situation, how can I handle that and not get drawn into past behaviors or thoughts?
While I am not planning a one-year anniversary party of my hospitalization, I am interested in measuring where I am now, versus a year ago. Yes, it’s my competitive nature coming out. I need to know where I stand in relation to depression and all the subtle tricks it can toss in my direction.
I told my therapist recently I think depression is mad at me.
After all, I am breaking up with it, as much as anyone can break up with something that is a part of you. I mean, conjoined twins must, on some level, want independence, but often share critical organs that bind them together. Depression and I share the same body.
Where does that leave me?
As I count down the days to my first full year facing depression, I believe it leaves me stronger. Saying the word depression, acknowledging its existence in my life, and actively working on my attitude has been one heck of a journey. Understanding that this will be a life-long adventure is now OK with me, although at times I get very angry about that.
I will say hi to depression for you since we are still “best buds.”
But I will not go down the rabbit hole of despair for depression anymore. I’ve got too many things I still want to accomplish. Depression will have to be content to ride along, as a passenger, but no longer as the driver. On our travels, I will still stop if depression needs to stretch its legs or use the restroom, but I will not pull out a map and ask depression which route it thinks is best.
READ MORE: Who is running this show?
If I must take depression with me, I will be polite, even though it probably doesn’t deserve it.
But I will never, ever, let it drive again. I will use every tool I have to stay away from the circling drain, the abyss, or whatever else you might call it. Being up against the wall is not in my future. Now depression, on the other hand, would love a trip like that. But I am going to use my new insights to stay focused on living a balanced life.
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.
Last year, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.If you know someone who might benefit from reading this, please share.