I suppose this is the sum of each of us.
We all have our moments of brilliance. For some, it could be discovering a cure for a disease. For others, it’s the moment after spending hours making a repair, we hit the key and the car starts. What defines our successes can change depending on the day and what we are facing.
The act of deciding can often be a success.
Getting all the relevant information, weighing the options, and then choosing a single path to follow, now that’s a success story in my book. And most of us make 100’s of decisions every day. Pepsi or Coke? Hamburger or cheeseburger? Make a right at the light or go to the next road and turn in?
We are constantly making small decisions, keeping our brains in practice.
Then when it’s time for the important choices, we should be ready to go. We have practiced on all these little, almost inconsequential issues and have made choices. Sometimes we may decide later “I should have gotten the salad, not the burger,” but we made a choice, we picked one.
My relationship with depression is about me making the decision it has picked out for me.
Depression has sucked me into its clutches and has often made it impossible to choose. So, for example, I am staying in bed longer than I need to. Not because I want to, it’s just that I cannot make the decision to get up. Depression is still actively rebelling against my recovery, fighting it with every tool it can think of.
For 43+ years, depression had me figured out.
It knew how to get to me, how to have me see the choice it wanted me to make. I would listen to it telling me, in secret, that for example, retiring early and changing the plans I had worked for decades to make happen was OK. It didn’t really matter that it changed everything I had worked for over the past 35 years. And having major depressive disorder, I went along with the idea.
Depression knew how to present the idea so I could take it and run.
It knew what would attract my attention and could show me that small part of the choice in an overly magnified light. And then, it completely minimized the other 60 or 70 things that were wrong with the decision. For instance, I ignored or minimized having to pay for health insurance until Medicare kicks in a few years from now.
I didn’t understand how much I recharged my emotional batteries through face to face interaction.
Minimized and swept out of view were all the positives of waiting a few more years. The result was a disaster that nearly ended things. Talking about ending my life is not easy. But I am way to competitive. You see, I plan to be around for my 100th birthday. The fact that I actively choose NOT to dwell on these thoughts is a success story. Yet, depression throws them my way at times.
That’s enough about the failures.
The biggest success is I am still moving forward. And I am still learning tools that will help me lead a balanced life. Knowing what I look like, without a title (Dad, Husband, Manager, Author, Coach, etc.) has been a lesson in humility.
READ MORE: What lens am I looking at myself through?
Success minus failures equal me.
I am the sum of all my parts, my habits, ideas, actions, and thoughts. Being alive, I face daily decisions I must make. And one of the first each day is to decide the moment I will get out of bed. Depression and I seem to dance around the decision, sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for over an hour.
But as you can tell, I have gotten out of bed, am up for the day and I am writing.
READ MORE: I promise not to “should” on myself today
I am the sum of everything I do. “Shoulding” on myself, I can feel so incredibly bad about lost opportunities, potential success stories I chose not to pursue because depression and I thought it was a bad idea. I am so close to holding a “pity party” for myself, but I know that it is just depression trying to reestablish contact.
Depression misses me and wants me back as it’s special friend.
It conveniently forgets that all its secret suggestions have resulted in my teetering on the abyss. And it never mentions how, on occasion, it has let me tumble into the depths of despair. And how each tumble has been deeper and deeper. Funny that depression never brings that up.
So, the real key is how we decide to see the “me” that is left.
I have written about this and am still exploring my attitude towards what is left. I see the chances for success and what the potential failures look like. Practicing making decisions each day keeps my mind working. Staying out of unhelpful thinking styles has been the key to any success I have enjoyed since my hospitalization last year.
There is no easy answer, no magic pill that makes depression gone forever.
I am living with a disease that will never go away. How I choose to think about it is the only thing I can control. What’s left after tallying up success and failures in my life is the me I must live with. And deciding how I will think about the me that is left is where I am focused.
READ MORE: Afraid or not, life still marches forward
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.