I want to say that I have figured it out and have all of the answers.
If I could say, “I understand what and why,” that would be amazing. And by saying that, I would be saying that my depression will never appear again. In the past, my trips to the abyss have been lengthy and very brutal. So I want to never, ever again, circle the drain. But I have not learned how to do that.
In fact, while I have learned so much about my depression, I now know more about what I do not know.
And I do not know a lot. The depths to which my depression will stoop to make me go along, are boundless. My depression will do whatever it thinks is necessary to keep control over me. This includes allowing me to think I am in control.
I am having a flashback to the phrase give them enough rope to hang themselves.
Depression has a way of using all 10 unhelpful thinking styles to keep my attention. When I become aware of what one is doing, it will switch to another and bring a new unhelpful style into the room. Often, this quick switch in the lineup will be enough to rein me in, at least for the short term.
Even better for it, my depression only needs to think about the here and now.
Once it has me second-guessing my thoughts, it can tighten the screws and exert more control over me and my thoughts. In the past, this has led me to stop talking to those I would trust to steer me in the right direction. And then I become secretive, as I once again begin to believe that only my depression can understand me.
In the past, once depression has me to itself, my plummeting into the abyss is only a matter of time.
And then I end up against the wall, with no signs of a way forward. How depression gets me there so effortlessly is still an unsolved mystery. Even knowing all of the steps my depression will take, never prepares me for the reality of the abyss. However, knowing now what I do about depression, some of what it does is predictable.
- Involves guilt and shame.
- Employs any or all of its 10 unhelpful thinking styles.
- Separates me from the herd.
- Makes secrecy the only way forward.
- Disappears when the check arrives and it’s time to pay the bill.
So yes, I know a bit about depression.
But this doesn’t help me stay out of its control. This very second, I can feel it looking over my shoulder. It is just waiting for me to ask it a question or just acknowledge that it’s there. My depression knows that patience is a virtue and over the past 60 years, it has waited for me many times.
In fact, after my lost year (1977), my depression waited in the wings for almost 15 years before it once again pulled me in and showed me who is really in control.
That kind of commitment in a person would be admirable. When depression exhibits that kind of focus, I need to watch out. Depression is in my DNA and can always wait it out. I have family members back through the generations who have had depression. It is truly in my genes and my biology.
But I am not going to use that as an excuse to give up or to give in.
Some families have diabetes running through their members. And the list of maladies that one’s ancestors can pass down is almost uncountable. Saying it’s not my fault I have depression can be comforting on some level. But it is not the long-term answer and is not how I want to live. And this seems like it is more complicated.
So, what I have learned about my depression is that I am still learning about my depression.
What I do know is that my depression and I are together as long as I am alive. The more I can understand its operations, the better I am at staying ahead of it. Or to be better at not letting it be in control of me and my circumstances. But depression will often attempt a soft close, tossing out an idea to see if I will bite.
Unlike the past 45+ years, now when depression lobs one in, I can often see what it is doing.
And if I do not recognize it the moment it occurs, I can usually identify the unhelpful idea before I spend too much time implementing it. And by just saying what depression is doing, I can stop engaging with it and just let it float away. I envision a stream. I place the thought on a leaf and then watch as it drifts away. By not accepting it, I do not have to give it more energy.