Thankfully, I am not talking about suicide.
During my last Psychiatrist visit, my Doctor asked me when the last time was, I had thoughts of suicide. I had to think, before answering. My doctor pointed out that this was an incredibly positive sign. Her patients who know exactly when they had their last suicidal thought are more at risk.
But not having those kinds of thoughts doesn’t mean I am cured.
In fact, cure is not in my daily vocabulary. “Balanced life” is. Every day when I get up, that rock is waiting to be pushed up the hill. As I have pointed out, somedays the rock is more of a pebble and the hill is just a slight incline. But there are days where the rock is a huge boulder, and the hill stretches upward with the ferocity of Everest in a blinding snowstorm.
The thoughts I have been having recently are blasts from the past.
Thorny, often sad, memories from my past. You know, all the things I could have done better, smarter, easier, friendlier. These thoughts often sneak in while I am commuting home from work. While certainly not an everyday occurrence, lately, I am noticing them more.
Some days, the radio cannot drown these thoughts out.
This points out that I have more work to do. In fact, I will always have work to do to live a balanced life with depression. This thought is not depressing, as I do not think about always having to think about depression. It is becoming a part of my daily routine, just as some people must check their blood sugar, or schedule ongoing dialysis treatments.
Yesterday, I am happy to say, I once again was able to get out of bed without negotiating with myself.
And I accomplished what I had on my list before getting ready to head to my day job. The day went well, and the rain held off until I was home. But in the middle of my commute, past experiences appeared in my head. Some of these could make a grown man cry. As I entertained these thoughts, a wave of sadness overtook me.
Worse, “why bother” entered the picture.
These thoughts persisted for a few minutes as I allowed myself to circle the drain. This led to me asking myself, “why am I allowing myself to dwell on these thoughts?” I cannot control whether I have these thoughts, but I can control my attitude towards them. Yet, being able too, and doing it, are often not the same thing.
So, I put on my big boy pants and announced out loud that I was not going to spend my ride home wallowing in woulda, shoulda, coulda.
I switched radio stations and heard a Greenday song that I could sing, loudly. I turned up the radio and put my all into each verse. Soon, I was nearing home and the thoughts had subsided. The evening from there was enjoyable.
I pulled up to the mailbox which is a quarter-mile from the house and picked up today’s mail and the newspaper.
It was sprinkling a bit. I drove across the dam and up the hill. Turning to the right, I drove along our shared gravel driveway, past three neighbor houses, spread apart by forest and some open acreage. Turning into our gravel parking area, the solar-powered motion activated light came on. We put this up so that we could see better at night or in the early morning.
Plus, the light makes it easier to see any black bears wandering nearby.
After a brief time of unwinding, I headed to bed. The storm that had sprinkled on me as I got the mail, was now a full-blown thunderstorm, with energetic thunder and lightning. Soon after turning the light off, a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning seemed to happen simultaneously.
The ferocity of both seemed to have happened right outside the bedroom window.
In fact, even with the blackout curtains drawn, the room was lit up for a moment. Arising, I checked out the back yard, expecting to see something on fire. The reality is the lighting probably hit Parker mountain a mile from us. The jolt defiantly got my total attention.
Unhelpful thinking for me is a lot like that.
When it happens, it gets my full and undivided attention. If I make a conscious effort to challenge it, I can quickly decide how I will respond. But sometimes that is easier to say. And there are times where I do not challenge unhelpful thinking as it happens. I know something is not right, but it may take me a day or two to figure out what is really going on.
Depression is happier when I have those thoughts and don’t quickly confront them.
The new day has begun, and I have a chance to do better. The rock is still there, but it seems more like a pebble today. The hill is just a hill. The day is shaping up nicely. If those thoughts cross my path, I will acknowledge them and then just let them go. I can do this. I have used mindfulness meditation in the past and have applied it to these thoughts.
So bring on the day, I am ready!
My concealed depression is written under the alias “Depression is not my boss.” I have certifications in SMART Recovery and am a Global Career Development Facilitator.
Diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder last year, I am sharing what I learn.
If you know someone who might benefit from reading this, please share.
I very much appreciate your comments.