I feel like I’ve been here before.
It’s the same impulsive “this time it will be different” kind of thoughts. Am I fooling myself that I have magically changed. That somehow, I can think like I have in the past. And at the same time expect a different outcome? What the heck am I thinking?
Is it my depression that is doing this, or am I just naïve?
When you look at my life from a historical perspective, I can see clearly that my actions are sometimes counter to what a normal person would see and think. I know that my actions were counter to my best interests in the past. And this theme continues into the present.
Just because I said I was not going to hide from my depression anymore, it doesn’t mean that I will follow through.
I’d like to think that I can be that strong, but that is not always the case. And I have gotten away from the day-to-day interactions with my depression. For the first couple of years since my stay in 5 East, my depression was not fooling me.
Any time my depression started to act up, I was there to shut it down.
I was saying daily, “I have depression, depression doesn’t have me.” But since early December, I have been off my feed. I’ve been blaming my negative feelings on my medication. And the fact that I am not sleeping I am also pinning entirely on my current medication. Or that I drink too much water before bedtime.
“I will face my depression and not sweep incidents under the rug.”
That had been my mantra. It still is my mantra, at least in my head. Looking at the past couple of months, I see myself going straight back into a life of secrecy. Now I am beginning to see that my depression has been at work. It has created doubts in my head about others.
I am beginning to only feel safe when I am keeping secrets.
Now in all fairness to me, I have been leaving breadcrumbs behind me. I have never done that before. I have left little tidbits out about what I am thinking. Yet, thinking back, I have done that before. By saying once that I am thinking about something, I can justify my actions.
I can say to myself, “I did tell them.”
But this time, that doesn’t make me feel good. The truth is it never made me feel good. in the past, I have hidden behind this justification of my actions by thinking I had clearly said what I was doing. But it always starts so positively.
I’m back to thinking that I will save the world, while ridding it of joblessness.
It struck me a few days ago, that I have been repeating this pattern time after time. And I still don’t see what’s going to happen. I am oblivious to the consequences of my actions. Right now, all I see is the positive, rainbows and unicorns’ parts of my plan.
The, “boy I should have seen that coming” part of my project hasn’t made an appearance yet.
But if I take a step back, I can see the writing on the wall. It’s saying beware, you are about to do the same thing, again. The same type of things you have done in the past. I retired just when things were about to come together. When I had the vending business, I hired an extra driver at the end of the busy season.
Things were beginning to get good, and I just couldn’t have that.
Heck, I have even claimed the prize once or twice. But this was way too good. I talked myself into stepping down from running an entire warehouse with over two hundred employees and 20 managers that reported to me. I just said to myself, “I will finish what I start next time.
That time, I said, “I will just step down from the position I worked so hard to achieve.”
In my first management position, I had a chance to move to the corporate offices. I was on my way to effect policy at a hirer level. But that seemed too easy and too safe? I don’t like safety. Being on the edge, cutting the line between making it and crashing seems to be where I live.
Safe is not a place I am comfortable in.
The more I think about it, the more I do not feel that my actions promote safety. And I don’t seem to care about the long-term consequences of not being safe. So, I keep writing hoping that I will see some words of wisdom in these lines. I’m hoping I can figure out my relationship with depression.
I don’t have a particularly good record of being in front of my depression.
Even the fact that I have had a couple of years where I spotted and challenged my depression at every turn is not comforting. Since my time in 5 East, I have collected books and strategies. As I think about this, my behavior is the same when I’m trying to get away from depression. I tell myself it is something different when I am fighting my depression. But my actions, as I now see them, are the same as any other time I begin a new project.
In going after my depression, I have collected books, articles, and set up Google alerts.
I even took a course on being a SMART Recovery meeting leader. I’m sure I would need a refresher before they would set me up with a session. And I am not interested in being a facilitator.
So, I am fu%&#$.
I know being open and saying what you are thinking, even if it is cursing, is in vogue. t seems,I must be too old-fashioned, as I cannot bring myself to do that. I do not curse at work or home. Occasionally, I will let a word slip, just to see if someone is listening. But these moments are so rare that people’s reactions are fun to watch.
Looks like I have written my way around what I have been thinking.
I’m working through whether this time it will be different. Sitting here, tonight, thinking about it, I cannot see how I will have a different ending. And this positive energy I feel towards the project will turn into turmoil when the end of this project rears its head.
It seems like I have answered my own question about whether I should proceed.
Without any assurance that this time would be different, I got in line and got on the roller coaster. Right now, we are just moving slowly, chugging up hill. Everything will feel fine until the car I am in goes over the edge. Then the free-fall, the loop-dee-loops, and the runaway train action starts.
And there’s no way to slow down (thank you Ian Anderson).
I do not want to go there again. And I do not want to take the ones that I love there, either. But I am sure that to continue would mean that we would arrive there at some point. I would once again have spent money and a ton of time on something that will never yield the ROI I so longingly hoped for as I began the adventure.
It might be that this time will be different.
I think that to block all the negative thoughts out of my mind. If only I could be left alone to work on this project, I am certain this time it will be different. All I need is….
Boy, just writing that out gives me chills.
I am telling myself a story that will make me justify my actions. By not really looking at the reality of the situation, I am making assumptions about how the future will turn out. Suddenly, I am fortune telling. I am divining the future without speaking (thinking) with anyone involved. Talking with people, even myself, could lead to a different outcome than what I and my depression have created in my head.
By using an unhelpful thinking style, I can justify what I am doing without having to think or face what I am doing.
And the consequences of what I am taking on are the furthest thing from my mind. I am not thinking about the future. All I am focused on is being secretive and going after the plan that my depression and I have concocted.
I’m the biggest part of this plan, so it must be good, correct, and true.
Because that is how I see myself. I know I am not perfect, but why would I take on a project that I know up front will be a bust? I cannot see myself doing that. Yet bust is most likely where I am headed. And as “Charlie stole the handle, and the train it won’t stop going,” I probably will be unable to stop this before it reaches its final destination.
But yesterday, I had a chance to talk about this idea with my significant other.
We spelled out the scenario under which I am working. We discussed the similarities with previous projects. And then I was face to face with a pattern. This pattern, in my case, was full of bad endings. And yet here I am, starting down the same path, blissful, and unaware.
Several days ago, on my own without any coaching from anyone, it hit me that I had done the same thing before.
While I didn’t stop and think about what that meant, I did have the thought. In my day-to-day encounters with my depression, I have been immensely proud of myself for catching myself dipping into an unhelpful thinking style.
I have written about how I did this, giving myself a pat on the back for catching something before, during, or soon after it happened.
But on the big stuff, I am still a work in progress. Yes, I am thinking about what I am doing before I get too far down the slippery slope. But I am already rolling that same rock up the same hill. It’s always true that the rock will be rolling back down at some point, yet here I am still pushing.
I have given myself permission to suspend my project for three days while I look at it from different angles.
I can still stop the investment in my time and money before it gets out of control. Of course, maybe I have thought this through and can see that I have been creating knowledge in a form that others will get. And I can be their mentor, showing them how to land their dream jobs sooner. As I collect information for the course I am working on, I have found years and years of writing, podcasting, and creating video content. I have to say that the body of work I have produced is amazing. Putting all this material together under one roof makes sense.
So why am I thinking that this project will end in disaster?
Well, my track record with this type of project is not all that impressive. Any time I get into a “this time will be different” mindset, I should know right away that the end will not live up to the hype I tell myself as I start the project.
Writing more today feels like I will just be repeating what I have already said.
But by doing this, I can avoid thinking about what the real issue is. And I am exceptionally good at side-stepping what I need to do, while thinking I am doing what I need to. I cannot even stop this writing, because I am feeling guilty that the reader will not find closure.
I must remind myself that I am writing for me, not for anyone else.
The fact that I am writing this as a public blog post is only to hold myself accountable. And to help someone else see that they are not alone, that there can be hope.