I am building a new relationship with depression. And it is changing my life.
For me, it first helps a great deal to acknowledge that you have depression.
It turns out I was so good at concealing it from myself that it took me 43 years to finally admit I had depression. And this was only because I ended up seeking professional medical help.
Had I figured out a way to hide depression from myself and others again this time, you would not be reading this.
My diagnosis is Major Depressive Disorder.
There are many schools of thought about an individual’s predisposed susceptibility to depression. I have a family history of what was called “nerves.” This can explain my struggle with depressive episodes from the time I was in my early twenties.
But situational factors can also play a role.
Childhood issues that were not resolved are the focus of a lot of current therapy. In exploring my childhood, which by many standards was very tame, my therapist and I were able to pinpoint events that I may still be carrying the scars of as an adult. The idea is that these unresolved traumas from our past can be put to rest. The process does, in my opinion, makes you very vulnerable as these situations are revisited.
Reliving the past can be very uncomfortable.
But the result can be a sense of calm about the event and a way to unlock it’s hold on our emotions. This is what I felt after my session in which my therapist and I revisited why I didn’t run the race. The running theme has turned up in a lot of my writing and has been the source of much of my consternation over the years.
Understanding this has made a big difference in my attitude towards depression.
I have run from just about everybody and everything at some point in my life. Depression has a way of separating you from friends, family, and anyone who may even remotely qualify as a support person. It tells you they won’t understand, and you are better off without them. And it gets you to keep secrets.
Running was one of the more destructive ideas depression gave me.
Depression would work me over to the point that I would be sure running away was my idea. Of course, it would make it seem like I was moving towards something, rather than running away from something. This allowed me to maximize the going towards thinking and minimize in my mind, the running away aspect.
It had me convinced that any other person’s ideas couldn’t be as good as my idea, you know, the running away one that depression had me think I came up with. Even if I pretended to listen to another way of looking at the situation, my mind was already firmly made up.
Facing depression and calling its name was the hardest thing I have ever done.
Ok, I did have a vasectomy almost 33 years ago, and that inpatient surgery did have my full attention. I hope you will allow me this brief diversion from the subject of depression. My minor surgery experience just popped into my head as an automatic thought as I was thinking about medical situations and things that were hard to do. And just for the record, I would have the procedure again. It was the right thing to do, knowing that my wife had faced childbirth with our three children.
Back to the depression and changing your life.
At the time I walked into the Emergency Room, it was the least frightening option I was left with. Depression had twisted me up so much, I was not able to see anything hopeful, nothing even remotely positive, and absolutely no path forward. Unlike past episodes I have had with depression, there was no place this time to hide, no rug to sweep the evidence under, no “Get Out of Jail Free” card. This was some scary shit.
Seeking professional help has changed my entire relationship with depression.
Since facing my depression, I have not settled for any one thing, any one tool, book, treatment, or method. I am now my own best advocate for any and all things that will give me what I need to live with depression. I will admit this is still a work in progress. I am getting better at being my best advocate, but I am still battling my unhelpful thinking.
Having someone in your corner is a huge help. Having five people is ideal, as you won’t burn any one of your support people completely out. Plus, each will have special talents and abilities, and things they are more interested in helping with.
One may pick up prescriptions for you. Another may watch your pet if you are in the hospital. And still, another may not mind if you call at 3 AM in the morning because you need to talk.
I am building my support group.
This is a big step towards changing my relationship with depression. Not being alone, not feeling alone, not letting depression isolate me, has made a significant difference in my ability to see the future with anticipation.
I am feeling this hope almost 9 weeks after getting out of the hospital, 9 weeks after starting on Prozac, and 9 weeks after finally facing depression. My past depression episodes ended in shipwrecks on the high seas, with the flotsam and jetsam of the collision bobbing around in the open ocean.
Each time before there was never any resolution of the underlying causes of my deep depression, just a lot of debris, which, when it finally sank to the bottom of the sea, made the entire depressive episode feel like it never happened. The evidence of each depressive episode was gone, so there was nothing to do but pretend it didn’t happen.
My plan then for completely changing my life with depression is to face it.
I will advocate for myself and will if needed, force myself to act. I am staying focused on the idea of self-care and am beginning to see the value of my time and its preciousness as a resource. And I am facing depression in all its sneaky forms, learning everything I can about it and how it works.
I am learning how to not have depression be my boss.
Not easy, certainly not “one and done.” But worth every speck of energy I must use to make it work.
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