I don’t say this to brag.
In some respects, I wish I had never started writing this blog. It all started the day after I checked out of 5 East. I had made the decision in the previous 4 days that I was going to face my depression head-on. This meant I would never again run from it. Even more important, I was not going to sweep it under the rug and pretend that it never happened.
I had spent over 40 years doing that and my depression still keeps at me.
By refusing to acknowledge or allow myself to think I suffered from depression, I could tell myself “It isn’t me.” I would say to myself, “what problem?” And after saying this to myself enough times, I would believe it.
The fact that I was lying to myself didn’t matter.
Getting back to normal was the goal. In these moments, what felt normal was never being out of control. And my depression has a way of getting to me. And then it gets me to be secretive, and then it wants me to do things that are not in my best interest.
Depression told me I’d be better off if I was alone, not sharing my thoughts with anyone.
Anyone, except depression that is. Depression still wants to be my one and only. It justifies this thought by pointing out that we have been through so much together. We have a history. We are simpatico if that’s even a word. And my depression is not one to take no for an answer.
Plus, my depression is jealous.
Unhelpful thinking styles have been a trademark move for depression. Whenever it feels I am getting too arrogant, it tosses something like time-travel in my direction. The next thing I know, I am wallowing in the past, or anxious about the future. I get mired in thought about what could have been or scared of what might happen next.
When this happens, living in the moment doesn’t seem possible.
At one point, depression had me thinking that if I turned on the radio while I was driving, when I got home my house would be on fire. The only way to avoid that was to NOT turn on the radio. This way I was forced to give depression my full attention.
And my depression was thrilled when this happened.
Living in the past is another way my depression has me time traveling. I start being seeing situations that have occurred in the past, and then I see what could have been. Depression has me trained, because the next thing I know, I am could a, would a, shouldaing all over myself.
And all this ever does is make me feel like crap and it steals my energy. While I often recognize this now before it gets too intense, depression still knows it can get my attention by throwing that at me.
On a positive note, all this writing does help me understand my relationship with depression.
And that understanding is helping me lead a balanced life with my depression. I have used these blog posts to work out my thoughts and make sense of what I am feeling. This is very new to me.
I have always been an excellent reporter; I can give you just the facts.
When I am in that mode, there is nothing to encumber the record of events I will write down. I do not clutter the explanation by telling the reader how I feel about the situation, I just write what happened. Up until I went into the hospital, I was proud of the fact that I could be so precise.
By not divulging my thoughts about an event, I was free to just give an accurate step-by-step account.
So, I have spent the past 30 months working on opening up. Medical jargon still gets me amped up and defensive. I get chills when I hear, “well how does that make you feel?” Even the term self-care is unnerving to me. I cannot wrap my arms around just doing something for me because I enjoy it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do many things just for me.
But I don’t think of it as self-care. I think of it as mowing the grass, weeding the garden, playing golf, building a fire in the woodstove, sharing time with family, going to the gym, and doing hundreds of other activities. All of these could be forms of self-care, I just have never thought of them in that light.
So, sharing my feelings and being comfortable with the term self-care are two areas where I am focusing. Going from “spray and pray” to a more focused approach has been productive. I am recognizing the warning signs of depression much quicker. This means I am also better equipped to see the little, day-to-day ways, depression tries to get me.
And I see myself continuing to write for years to come.
The more I learn about my depression, the better my quality of life will be. I have so many tools now, that I never knew existed before I faced my depression and called It by name. And I have a robust support group that was always there, but I had never recognized.
Depression and I are still working out the details of my support group.
Right now, I am avoiding this group. This puts me at risk for additional attempts by depression to lure me over to the dark side of the force. And while I see what is going on, I am having a hard time changing it. The good news, though, is I see what is going on. I am facing what depression has me doing, instead of ignoring it or pretending it isn’t happening.
I am facing depression and calling out its action’s by name.
This is a huge step in my efforts to lead a balanced life with depression. I am proud of that and proud of my ability to control my attitude towards the events that are unfolding. Knowing I can control my attitude is empowering. And I am thankful for being able to see that more clearly. I am spending much less time “shoulding on myself,” and more time being in the moment.