I’m not 100% sure I would be alive if I hadn’t found these powerful organizations.
When I was admitted to the hospital last spring, I was seeing zero hope. Nothing. I was up against the wall, smashed as tightly as possible and I could not see anything. There was an empty place in my heart where hope had been, but it was not there that day.
Heck, I hadn’t seen hope in months.
Hope had gone, happiness had gone, joy had gone, and enjoyment had moved along. You would think that would leave the other emotions such as fear and anger, but they had left even earlier. All I had left was a dull numbness, parts of which I still visit some days. And even though my depression has not been full-blown every day of my life, my depression is with me in some ways routinely.
I push the same rock up the same hill every single day.
Lately, the rock has been more of a pebble and the hill is more of a gentle rise. But there have been times, for weeks, even months on end, where the rock is a huge boulder, and the hill is a crag with a 1,000-foot vertical drop. And did I mention the ice, snow, and blinding wind creating blackout conditions where I am pushing?
With 43+ years of concealing my depression, I have seen the abyss many times.
And each time I clawed my way back up and out. As soon as I reached the surface, I took a shower and washed off everything I could relate to the abyss. Avoiding any questions related to how I had gotten there, I went back to my life, assuming no one knew where I had been. I’m sure now that this was not true.
15 months ago, I made the decision to face my depression and sought professional help.
People went out of their way to tell me how brave I was. They lauded praise and support on me. It was hard for me to accept. But I didn’t feel brave. I felt like I had chosen the least frightening of the three choices I saw the day I walked into the hospital.
That morning, I saw my choices as 1. Suicide, 2. Doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome, 3. Asking for professional medical help.
That morning, I could have chosen to end it, but I was way too scared of that. And while I have suicidal ideation, I just observe it and let it go. I don’t entertain these thoughts but apply mindfulness meditation techniques. I don’t fight them, but I don’t engage them either. This lets them float on downstream, in my version of meditation, and they disappear around the corner.
Doing the same thing and expecting different results was the crazy choice.
43+ years of doing that had not changed my relationship with depression. And doing my best to sweep this current version of my depression under the rug was beyond my thinking. I just couldn’t conceal it any longer.
So that left me with choice #3, seek professional medical attention.
This led me to 4 days in 5 North, where I learned that there are tools available to treat depression. Even in the hospital, I learned about unhelpful thinking styles. This was an eye-opener. I had no idea how depression worked or what it was capable of.
And I was completely unaware that there were organizations devoted to helping people with depression lead a balanced life.
Searching out resources, I stumbled onto a local non-profit providing resources for mental health issues. The first day I walked through the door of On Our Own, I felt safe. And there was no judgment. From there I learned about SMART RECOVERY and WRAP techniques.
Working with a LSCW a month later, I learned about the Change Triangle.
These three have given me the ability to learn about depression and craft a plan for living with it. On top of that, these tools are helping me thrive again. And I can see how things will continue to improve as I apply and reapply what I am learning.
And, if I feel myself slipping back toward depression, I have a written wellness recovery action plan in place.
Heck, I even have a support team of friends and professionals that are working to keep me on track. This is huge. 15 months ago, I only saw the wall I was up against. And I felt nothing. I could see no plan forward, no way out. But I kept going because not living was too frightening for me to consider.
So, I am going to post my worksheets in upcoming posts. I want to share my experience with all the tools these three organizations have provided me.
I want you to see how I use these so that, if you need them, you can see what the outcome may be. I am also extremely interested in feedback about any other programs or tools that may be helpful to lead a balanced life with depression.