Projecting a positive, can-do attitude somedays takes all the energy I have.
And I am being to feel overwhelmed by the demands I am placing on myself. Once again, no one is forcing me to behave a certain way. I am free to live my life using my own internal compass. Knowingly, I relinquish some of that freedom as a partner in marriage.
Doing the right thing as a marriage partner makes depression jealous.
Depression clearly wants to drive a wedge into my personal relationship. It is not satisfactory to only be an after-thought. When depression is not feeling like it is number 1, it sets out to find ways to remind me. “Without me,” depression says, “you are nothing.”
And depression creates in my mind, reasons why I should be secretive.
The fewer people I talk to, the easier it is for depression to entice me. Depression makes it clear that I am better off only sharing my thoughts or concerns with it. After all, everyone else is out to get me. I should let go of others and take the lead from depression. It will be much easier for everyone, especially depression.
Keeping my business away from depression is a full-time occupation.
As much as I think I am getting “better,” I am doing much of the work at my own expense. Being able to keep my actions out in the open, to be transparent, as it were, can be ever so hard. Now that I am examining my depression under a microscope, I am seeing all the little ways it permeates my daily activities.
I can recognize unhelpful thinking styles, sometimes as they occur.
There is catastrophizing and some all-or-nothing thinking in the preceding paragraphs. I have written extensively on coulda, woulda, shoulda. That’s a place I must steer clear of. But doing so costs me mental energy. Staying out of that unhelpful thinking trap requires an effort to change my attitude towards these past incidents.
“If I had only …” becomes my attitude and everything I think about is then covered in unhelpful thoughts.
The easy way then is to resign myself to living in the past where I drown in my own regrets. I do not need to spend energy staying away from these negative, unhelpful thoughts. All I need to do is open the door and let them in. Depression can fill the room with as many regrets as I can take.
And then depression adds an even harsher tidbit to my unhelpful thinking.
It is enough to make me cry. And it makes me fight, spending my energy to stay away from depression’s unhelpful thinking. All this conscious effort comes at a cost. Somedays I only spend a few minutes opposing depressions ideas. Other days, I am in a siege mentality, where I surround depression within its castle walls and I spend all my time keeping it there.
From this perspective, I can better appreciate why someone would say, “enough is enough.”
Even with my last episode of severe depression, I could not face ending things. As I have said before, I saw three paths forward on the morning I went to seek professional medical treatment for my depression. My choices were:
- Throw in the towel and stop playing the game, forever.
- Keep doing the same thing but continue to expect a different result.
- Admit I need help and seek professional medical help
Ending things, for me, is much more frightening than choices 2 or 3. I understand that no one is going to live forever, even me. But I also want to see, do, and experience so much more. My bucket list continues to grow, even as I check things off. I am too competitive to check out in the middle of the game.
Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is crazy. And I allowed myself to think that this was and is a wonderful strategy. With this, I am not forced to think about depression or what depression has cost me and those around me. As each major episode of depression draws to a close, I can sweep what is left under the rug. No muss, no fuss, no thinking about what could a been.
So finally, on that morning some 27 months ago, I picked door number 3.
I stood up to depression and said no. I still get praise from those who think my actions were brave. And when I share my experiences, someone will come up afterward and tell me how brave I am. But for me, bravery was not a reason. Stopping the merry-go-round was the thing I was after. I just couldn’t ignore what was happening any longer.
I showered, shaved, put on clean clothes, and drove myself to the emergency room.
This set in motion my efforts to fully understand depression and my relationship with it. Initially, I envisioned four major depressive events I had over the past 40+ years. On closer examination, I began to uncover a host of smaller incursions depression has made into my life. Now I am realizing that each day provides depression a chance to begin a new campaign to win my heart.
Depression is after me, is a part of who I am, and a factor in my everyday life.
And I am tired of that. I am tired of waking up and having to fight the good fight. Because this is the same fight that I fought yesterday and the day before that. Now that I have called out depression and have been calling it by name, I am so much more aware of its true nature.
My depression wants me for itself.
I am not to speak to anyone, nor share any ideas depression has given me. Doing so makes depression mad. When I speak to others, I can see the faults, the errors in its thinking. Sharing with others allows me to see the unhelpful thinking styles that depression is using to get me closer to it.
Standing up and saying “I have depression, depression does not have me” expends energy.
By the time I proofread this and hit publish, my anger at depression will have receded. But the knowledge that each day is a day with depression, is clear. And the energy I must expend to keep depression out where I can see it, can be exhausting.