How do I know that the next page is a new chapter?
Mostly because I am writing this chapter. And I have written every chapter of my life so far. However, many, if not every, chapter has its share of ghostwriters. And for the awards ceremony, depression is nominated for a supporting role. Had I not been genetically pre-disposed to have MDD, I would pretty certain that I would not be writing this.
Because I have spent my life with major depressive disorder, I have become somewhat of an expert on the subject.
I am also an expert at hiding the truth about depression from myself and others. Well, I can for certain speak about my relationship with depression. I have had so many opportunities to peer beneath the covers and see what is really going on.
Sadly, until this last time, I was also an expert at repressing what I saw.
Until my stay at 5 East 4 years ago, I wanted no part of what I saw. In fact, I went out of my way to hide all the uncomfortable things from myself. I developed what is called concealed depression. And I sure could conceal things about my depression. This started with my not even wanting to call it by its name.
For almost all my adult life, I referred to 1977 as my lost year.
How crazy is that? The most significant episode of my depression in my young (at that time) life, and all I wanted to do was to hide it. I didn’t want anyone to know what I was going through. And I certainly did not want to face what was going on. There was no way I was going to admit that I had depression.
Depression was something my relatives had.
I was evergreen. There was no way that I could have depression. My lost year, in my mind, was just one of those things. And that was how I thought about it. Or that was how I would come to describe it if I was ever pressed about it. And I was never pressed about it. I was rescued a few times during it, but no one, including myself, would discuss what was really going on.
I know I tip-toed around the idea that what I was experiencing could be thought of as depression.
Admitting that I had depression was not in the cards back then. I had seen how people talked in hushed tones about relatives who exhibited symptoms of depression. None of this was situational depression. You know, the kind you might get after losing a job, a loved one, or any of many other life-altering events. These events might trigger a depressive episode, but then this would ease. Situational depression generally has an end date. And in most cases, it does not return.
The definition looks something like this:
Situational depression isn’t a formal diagnosis found in the DSM-5 (the latest tool for diagnosing mental disorders, also called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Fifth Edition). It’s a term that describes depression that occurs in response to a specific event. Another name for situational depression is adjustment disorder with depressed mood.
Read The Article: What Is Situational Depression? Why It’s Different (verywellhealth.com)
Depression that occurs in response to a specific event.
In my case, the specific event is being alive. I am certain that some of my depressive episodes have been triggered by some event. It is possible that all of them have some trigger along with the genetic component. But that doesn’t excuse them or make my depression any less difficult.
It has occurred to me that with my depression being such an integral part of my life, I may not even know the full extent of what depression has contributed to my life.
It would be easy at this point to blame my depression for everything in my life that did not go as planned. I could point to how depression did this, or my depression would not let me do that. But for me, that is far from the truth. Whatever happened, good or bad, I did it. How can I blame depression for, as an example, me tossing out over 30 years of planning to retire early?
I was the one who wrote the letter and said I was retiring.
Depression wasn’t the one who thought that I could survive without much human interaction. I said the words “I am retiring.” It was me that started out living the life that would end in my time at 5 East. I was the one who in the end, lived out my early retirement. And then, it was me who paid the price.
It wasn’t depression that was up against the wall.
And I noticed my depression was nowhere to be seen when the waiter came with the check. My depression was already on holiday. It accomplished its mission and was on an extended break. After all, I was the one left to clean up after it. It was me that sorted through the aftermath, searching for a way forward.
And it was me that finally decided to face what was happening, instead of once again sweeping things under the rug.
That’s why I know that the next page in my life is the beginning of a new chapter. I am making that call. It is my decision. After all, while it is true that I cannot change events that happened, I can always control my attitude toward them. And I am changing my attitude toward what comes next.
Since I have control over only that one thing, I am going to use it to my advantage.
History is full of examples of individuals who have stayed true to their attitude towards events, even as the events themselves created a crisis. I do not pretend to be working on that level and am only looking to get my attitude in line with the path I want to travel.
“No more monkeys jumping on the bed.”
This is where I could make excuses for events in my life. Excuses could easily become blame, blame directed at my depression. And then very quickly I am using unhelpful thinking to say I “could a, would a, should a.” How lame is that? I could easily push all the guilt and related shame onto my depression.
If not for depression, my life would have been different
So what? Everyone has things in their lives they wish had gone differently. And everyone has events in their lives that they are very proud of. Blaming my depression will not change the bad events or make the positive events any more impressive.