Ok, I know to look at the big picture.
I know that the road forward is not a straight line. And I know that my recovery from depression will have tough days and smooth days. I have developed and attracted a support group to help me stay on track. I have collected tools to help me recognize warning signs that signal I need to pay closer attention.
Yet when I had that thought this morning, for a moment, I was back in the depths of the pit.
It had been more than three weeks since I have had one of these thoughts. And the fact that I am having a hard time saying it out loud is concerning. I have been very blunt and very clear about everything I have felt, the emotions I have experienced, since getting out of the hospital.
So why am I dancing around this automatic thought today?
And why is it causing me anxiety? I didn’t entertain the thought; I didn’t make a plan. All I did was think it, then watch it disappear. I’ve done these hundreds of times over the years. So why did the hairs stand up on the back of my neck today when the thought flashed into my head?
I think I unrealistically thought I would never have another one of those thoughts.
In fact, I was hoping and praying subconsciously that this was the case. After all, I am thinking to myself, I am cured. There is nothing else to do but live my life with purpose and fulfillment.
Every day was supposed to be sunshine and lollipops, with rainbows in the sky and pots of gold at the end of each rainbow, just waiting for me to come by and scoop them up.
That damned depression is still around, still poking at me.
I have said it every day since I faced depression by asking for professional help, that “depression is not my boss.” And I have said every day that “I know I have depression, but depression doesn’t have me.” So, what is it that made this morning different?
Today is the first time I fully understand that I will have depression for the rest of my life.
All my dreams, aspirations, and desires can still come true. But I will need to stay vigilant and use my Wellness Recovery Action Plan to stay one step ahead of depression. I have written out my warning signs, my triggers, and my plan for what to do when I see or feel these entering my life.
So, I did what I was supposed to do.
I pulled out my list of unhelpful thinking styles, I pulled out my list of questions to ask that challenge these thoughts and help me decide if they are something I should act on or something I should not. And then I asked the questions!
In the end, one quick flashing suicidal thought does not mean I am headed back down the rabbit hole.
It means I am human, that I will have days that are easy and days that are hard. I can choose what I do next. And I choose life. I choose to be human and experiencing emotions.
And I get to choose my attitude towards these thoughts.
In the end, I will control what I can. What I can control is my attitude towards events and situations. This is how I will survive and thrive as I live my life with depression.