I’m still alive and able to make choices about my life!
Approaching my 200th blog post, I went back and read some of my earlier posts. Boy, I was really a mess. In some ways I still am.
Here’s part of what I wrote on my 100th blog post:
That first morning, I was told by professionals in the medical community that there was hope. They told me the medicine would help, the therapy would help, the tools they shared would help. But all of that was in the future. That Sunday morning all I felt was emptiness and that I was alone. I still mostly saw the wall, with no clear or real path forward.
100 days later, I am surrounded by a support network that continues to grow, and the future is brighter than ever.
This is a feeling that grew on me as the medicine started to work, the therapy sessions began to make sense, and the self-help tools I was given and found, began to work. It is still a struggle, at times. Depression is sneaky. It is secretive and sly. It often acts like my friend, treating me to lavish meals, then runs out when the bill is due, leaving me to do the dishes to pay it off.
So, I continue to learn, to ask questions, to keep depression out in the open where I can see it.
Now let’s go back even further. I wrote this a few days after getting out of the hospital.
“I’ve been thinking about unhelpful thinking styles.“
And I really should, because that is what put me up against the wall.
It was all or nothing, no shades of grey anywhere on the horizon. No visible way forward. That thinking landed me in the emergency room.
Solutions that I thought up I magnified, blowing them out of proportion. Either way, I underestimated the good or way overestimated the bad. Like “how can I talk to family about this, they won’t understand.” Ok, I think I’m back to all or nothing thinking.
In the hospital, one of the workshop sessions I attended covered Unhelpful Thinking Styles. I think the only one I have not used is Labeling. At least I steered clear of assigning labels to myself or others. You know, “I’m stupid” or I’m completely useless.” But nine out of ten isn’t a great score when zero is the goal.
That morning, in my mind, I had three choices. First, I could commit suicide and end it. But I’ve never acted on those thoughts and as I say “I’m too competitive. I want to see 100.” My second choice was to keep doing what I had been doing and hope for a different result. Just before going to the emergency room to seek help, that did not seem like much of a plan.
That left me with choice three, seek professional attention. I only chose that because it was slightly less frightening than choice number two. So, I got a shower, put on clean clothes, and headed for the emergency room.
It was almost 48 hours later that I first began to see a path forward. Up against the wall was easing.
READ THE ENTIRE POST: Up Against the Wall
Over the past 200 days, I have soared towards the heavens and descended to the depths of the abyss.
Knowing that the journey is just beginning, I am clearer than ever that this is a life-long endeavor. To keep depression at bay, for me, I need to see it. I need to call it out, to do everything in my power to keep it from getting me to be secretive, untrusting of others.
With this 200th post, I am more committed than ever to building a balanced life.
I am more committed than ever to making sure Depression is not my boss, that “I have depression, depression does not have me.” The prospects for my future look good, but that doesn’t mean I can relax just yet. My journey is far from over and the tools I am learning are not yet fully ingrained into my psyche.
To that end, I am taking classes in SMART Recovery to further my understanding of the resources I have available to me.
While the certifications give me the opportunity to help facilitate meetings, my goal, right now, is my own self-care. I have written about that process at length and will continue to as I grapple with the subtleties of developing my own self-care routines.
Thank you for your support on my journey.
The tools I have gotten, the support I have received from my Doctors, Psychiatrists, my therapist, Peer Advocates, family, and friends is priceless. And I want to thank everyone at On Our Own and at Region 10 for their help and for making me feel welcome and safe.
My next milestone may well be the first anniversary of my hospitalization for Major Depressive Disorder.
I can tell you the road has not been smooth or straight. But the alternatives pale in comparison to the path I have chosen. If you are facing these choices, know there is help available in many forms. And seeking help is a choice. Remember, it took me 43+ years to choose to face my depression.