I took my time and read all 37 of my blog posts, back to day one when I came home from the hospital.
What a journey already.
I sound so bad, so sad, so out of it, on day one.
And then I look at my recent writings and see how far I have come. This is encouraging. But it is not without setbacks.
There have been days where I wondered if I would ever feel better. Days, when all I wanted to do was, go back to bed. This is the depression making a last-ditch effort to get me back into its grip. That’s how I have been framing it. And I will not let that happen.
After 40 years, I am not going down that “it’s not depression” path again.
I am not going to pretend that this bout with depression didn’t really take place. I’m not going to sweep it under the rug and walk away with a “boy I’m glad that’s over” attitude.
The stage is set for me to never again let depression be my boss. And so, I am making this journey. I am learning everything I can about depression, recovery, self-care, and medication. I am going to Therapists, Psychiatrists, Peer Support Groups, Even Keel Groups, SMART groups, and CBT type groups.
If you have been following along, I have been journaling (blogging) almost every single day since I got out of the hospital. I missed two days while I was out of town, presenting workshops. I needed every bit of positive energy to give my best presentations for my students. I couldn’t do both.
Documenting my journey forward has been a huge boost to my confidence, allowing me to explore issues I am thinking about. Most of the time, the result is a breakthrough, or at least a better understanding of the challenge.
Or I discover I need to ask a different question.
The toolbox that I am assembling I am doing consciously. In the past, I have just cobbled together whatever I needed at the time to get out of the situation depression would get me into. I would find myself with only one choice and then must clean up the wreckage after reality returned. Depression was very good at getting me to go along with its unhelpful thinking.
I would get into these loops.
The more I needed outside ideas, the more depression would make that seem like a bad idea. The more I needed a fresh perspective, the more it made its only choice look like the only possible way to move forward. And whenever I would start to ask for other people’s advice, depression would lower the hammer and get me to think that those people were out to get me.
Depression forced me to keep secrets.
It had me doing its bidding without letting me share what was going on with friends and family. This has been one of the hardest discoveries I have had about what depression did to me and those I love. The secrets, the impulsive behaviors have made the past 40 years a series of good times sandwiched between disasters.
And even in the good times, depression was keeping an eye on me. As I really look at my actions, I know that what I did to hide, to conceal my depression from others wasn’t always successful. This makes me feel sad on several levels.
Keeping secrets has never been a part of my real self, my well self. So, to find depression had me slinking around in the shadows and only sharing what I absolutely had to was an eye-opener.
And then there is the trust factor.
How can close friends and family trust me when I have had a history of secrets? How can I rebuild that trust? I imagine that it will not be possible with some people. All of that is still being sorted out. As my depression abates, I am able to work on this with different people.
Some have already stated that they are my supporters to the end.
Others have been polite, and still others I have not engaged yet. This is a process and I am making a dent in my list, but I am not done. And yes, some of the people on the list I am having trouble facing. But I am working on the list regardless. The person I thought would be the hardest one to share with turned out to be one of my biggest supporters.
Reading through my blog posts has left me encouraged. I documented hours, even days where I was myself. And lately, that is happening more often than not. The sleep issue has not been resolved yet, though. I have had some better sleep, but I have had even more of the “ I find myself waking up almost every hour” sleeps.
When I get a full night’s sleep, I’ll know I’m back.
Until then, I will continue to work on my own self-care. I know that this can make a big difference in my physical and mental condition. And I will stop making excuses for not going to the gym and just go. This is the last major piece of my recovery that I have not acted on. I have been finding reasons why I do not have an hour or so to go to the gym. I will remind myself about something that is going to happen later and use that as an excuse.
Or I will just not think about the gym until I am getting a pair of socks out of my dresser drawer and I see my exercise shorts. I love going to the gym, so why am I not doing it? Is this one-way depression is keeping me from getting back to myself? Or am I just using that as an excuse to be lazy? I know that is labeling and I should refrain from that. But there it is.
I am adding additional things to my self-care list. I added soaking in the hot tub yesterday. I have always really enjoyed that and have gotten away from it in the past few months. Getting in again reminds me that I should do it more often.
I remind myself that the future is not written.
I get to decide what will happen. At first, when I couldn’t see much, that idea was frightening. Now, six weeks later, the same idea is invigorating. Time has a way of doing that when you apply yourself. And I feel that I have used the time since getting out of the hospital to delve into depression, the causes, the cures, the myths, the facts.
I know I am still at the beginning. But I am here. And that’s what counts.