With my first anniversary of my hospitalization for MDD, I count the mental health tools I now have as my anniversary presents.
Now I am speaking about the tools I use to deal with my Major Depressive Disorder, not the tools I use to change the oil in my truck. These tools and coping skills have provided me with the hope that I am able to live a balanced life with depression.
Beyond that, I just want to be alive and moving forward.
And while I do not always feel that I am moving forward, I am so grateful to be alive and to feel that I will still be tomorrow. “Those thoughts” have not been present for almost two months. Occasionally, I realize that I have not been visited by thoughts of suicide. While my track record clearly demonstrates that I am not interested in following through, these thoughts are distracting.
Suicidal thoughts are also a reminder that I have a disease and I need to be vigilant in my care and recovery.
Getting out into the world was one way I was reinforcing my control over what I think I can do and when I can do it. With a lifetime of love for live theater, concerts, and sporting events, getting out to events has been a form of my own self-care. On Valentine’s Day, I took my wife and daughter to see Trevor Noah do live comedy at a local arena.
Less than nine weeks ago, I was in a venue with over 4,000 people.
Now I am afraid to invite my brother over for a board game night. My job involves contact with the public, while he has worked from home for years. I would not want to be the one who exposes him to coronavirus.
The world has turned on its head and nothing is straight-forward.
Today, millions of people are out of work because their job was deemed “unessential.” And as the country begins to create roadmaps to reopening, the debate about what and when goes on. Both sides make compelling arguments, but the theory is one thing, and losing a loved one to COVID-19 is reality and finality.
Once again, I have a choice in how I frame these events and what actions I take going forward.
I have not hidden behind a mask, although I am wearing one at work. With each trip out, I evaluate the reason before leaving. And, I have reduced or eliminated many of the trips that used to be routine. Now, nothing is routine.
So, happy anniversary to me and to my first year of facing my depression.
I have to learn the tools and skills that make living with depression possible. It is a blessing to have met so many helpful and caring, non-judgmental individuals. This has made facing depression something I can do.
Using the depression coping tools to deal with COVID-19 has been game changing.
Being able to apply what I have learned in SMART Recovery, WRAP Training, Peer Support meetings, and therapist appointments have made my new reality manageable. Now, this does not mean that I like wearing a mask or do not wish I could go to a live concert again. But I can deal with the reality of COVID-19 without freaking out and running around yelling the sky is falling.
While coronavirus was not the anniversary gift I would have chosen, having the tools and mindset to face it is empowering.
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.If you know someone who might benefit from reading this, please share. And your comments are always appreciated.