The story of my life facing depression head-on; after only 62 years of ignoring it, never calling it by name, hiding it from everyone including myself, and sweeping the crumbs of each episode under the rug each time it was over, as I walked away never looking back.
I am putting my thoughts together in what may become a book.
But before I start:
This will not be a book about the depths of my depression, the suicidal thoughts, and all the sad, woe is me baggage that accompanies many books about depression. While there may be triggers for some, my goal is to talk about my personal experience with depression in a way that people will engage with it.
Scaring the heck out of people is not my goal.
Increasing awareness of the depths of mental illness and how these affect many of those close to us is where I am headed. There is also the fear of how stigma still plays a role in our communal attitudes towards depression specifically and all mental illnesses in general.
I am certain not addressing my depression for so long was me being afraid of what “they would say.”
There is the idea in my head that people will change their perceptions of me once they know I have depression. My relationship with stigma is dripping with examples of people being less than understanding about someone and what they are going through.
While you may find me pouring out my soul in certain instances, this is not going to be a sad book.
It is easy for me to say, I shoulda, woulda, coulda, and blame depression for where I am at today. I could and still do time travel. I waste hours in the past, wallowing in self-pity about what I did. And then there are the hours where I time-travel into the future, creating scenarios about my relationships with success and/or failure.
I am a master fortune teller, weaving together stories in my head about a situation, where I then create an outcome, without ever talking to the people involved.
The answer is clear to me, and I can move on, confident that I have the correct answer about what was going to happen. After all, my depression was (and still is) right there to tell me.
And let’s not even start on keeping secrets.
My depression is happiest when I tell no one. Depression knows better than anyone what is best for me and speaking about any action I want to take with someone other than depression, will make depression mad. I am sure depression is angry because I am writing this book about it and its relationship to me.
My story is just that, my story.
I have attempted to be completely honest about what I was feeling now, in my 500 blog posts since I was released for 5 East over three years ago, Yes, I was writing a public blog, but who was reading it? No one I knew personally. And I have taken steps to reduce the opportunities for people to identify my blog with me as a person.
It surprised me when a manager I had worked with years ago, contacted me via Facebook messaging. He had connected the dots and was sure it was me who was writing the blog. While I did take a while to think about having someone know, in the end, I acknowledged my authorship and learned about his life since I last saw him.
So, this book and my “coming out” about my depression is a logical next step.
Depression will be defensive about the changes in our relationship, but I am focused on that change being positive. I have discovered so many tools I can use to understand my depression better. There are resources that were there all the time, that I never knew about. And there are people in my corner, that I am sure will still be in my corner when I come clean and share my depression openly.
I have been inspired and in awe of those who have had the strength to share their mental health stories.
In today’s ongoing covid environment, isolated people need ways to see they are not alone. Alone is where my depression has tried its best to keep me. And at times, it has been successful. The cost of that has been a life filled with higher highs and lower lows. Depression is skilled at giving me ways to let success seem unfulfilling. And then it shows me a better idea, which soon becomes mine.
From there it’s just a matter of time until my depression has me circling the drain.
Then comes that wall I end up against. There’s a lot of no hope and sameness, where getting out of bed is a feat to be celebrated. Once I finally see the light, I also see that my depression is not around to pay the bill. In fact, it is nowhere to be seen.
Nowhere, that is, until the next time.
So here’s my outline of chapters as I see it today:
- A brief where am I am now
- How it all started
- 1977 – “the lost year”
- What depression? – the next 15 years
- What was that?
- I’m so close, but what the heck?
- Something’s not right about early retirement
- Beyond 5 East
- My future with depression
I am pleased I can think about writing a book without all the fear depression could inflict.
Please leave a comment and let me know if I am missing something that I should include.