Sometimes you have days when your positive outlook goes into hiding. It got the crap kicked out of it by life. It feels like nothing, not even a run or the most well-meaning friend can bring back.
I’ve wanted to do a post about depression for quite some time. This is a topic that I know a little too much about – both as some one that has experienced it personally and as one who has watched others struggle with it. Depression is a leach. It sucks the very will to live out of you. It is a lonely disease. It depletes your ambition and drive. It removes all faith in yourself. It causes you to look at life through a negative filter, one that blocks out all hope and positivity. It often hangs out with its friends anxiety and panic. They aren’t exactly the life of the party either.
My personal battle with the big “D” started 14 years ago. Newly married, it should have been a time of love and happiness. It wasn’t. At least, it wasn’t all that. Being married stirred up deeply buried issues that went back 15 years prior to that time. These issues, fueled by a bad reaction to my chosen birth control, sent me into a downward spiral that took me 3 years to claw my way out of. It was a very dark, lonely time, complete with recurrent panic attacks, countless tears and attempts to self-harm. My head was a nasty place back then. I would never even think about saying to anyone else the degrading, foul things I would say to myself. I wanted & needed help but lack of health insurance made therapy seem like an impossible dream. And since I prefer to get dirty and work on the cause of the problem and not just treat the symptoms, I didn’t consider medication as an option either. (Disclaimer: I’m not at all condemning the use of medication for depression treatment, it’s just not for me at this time…not as long as I can manage it on my own. I believe there are situations that warrant it, I just don’t feel like I’m one of them.)
Anyway, late one night after one of my freak out “episodes”, I was trying to find a distraction on tv and stumbled upon an interesting infomercial (yes, it was that cliche) about anxiety and depression. As I sat, exhausted from my recent hysterics and feeling as worthless as one can feel, I was listening intently to the testimonials and all I could think was, “That’s me!” I was amazed to find out that other people dealt with this too. A weight was lifted as I felt less alone and less crazy. I didn’t order that program but I did discover that the creator of it also has a book. I studied that book like my life depended on it. That book saved me when nothing else had been able to. It was the rope I used to pull myself out of that pit I had been living in.
The problem with depression coupled with panic and low self-esteem, is that it never really goes away. It may lay dormant for a while but it just sits there looking for the opportunity to wreck havoc on your life again. If you’ve had a depressive episode once, you’re more likely to have them a second and third time. It becomes easier to slip into the hole each time. It doesn’t matter if you’re a naturally optimistic person. It will find its way back. Especially, I’ve found, when surrounded by others that fight the same fight. Sometimes misery really does love company and it will do all it can to create that company. Without even realizing it, life can become a twisted game of see-saw – one person up, the other down, never enjoying life at the same time.
Lately, I’ve been on my way down the see-saw. The decent must stop now.
This certainly isn’t the first time it’s come back. I try to handcuff it to the chair in the basement, slap some duct tape over its mouth and padlock the door and that manages to keep it away for a while. But it’s a persistent little bugger. It is testing every coping mechanism that I’ve learned over the years. It is making this blog difficult. I feel like a hypocrite telling others that anything is possible. Decide to be better. Change your mind. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Like that really works.
Excuse my sarcasm. It does work. Just not for me. (or so the voice in my head tells me – I hate that guy! He’s such a downer.)
I’m working really hard at getting back on track. This weekend, I was cleaning my bedroom and stumbled upon “Put Your Dream to the Test”, the fantastically motivating John C. Maxwell book that made my top 5 reads of last year. I realized that I haven’t been reading at all lately. I have 2 books half-read, I haven’t even started the new Success Magazine and I usually devour that when it comes in. You see, depression doesn’t want to read – especially anything positive. It wants to fester in its own misery. It doesn’t want to be hopeful. It doesn’t want to have faith. It certainly doesn’t want to tell others how to be better. I need to stop acting like it has a choice. I’m in control here – it is not!
I’m not sharing this looking for encouragement. I’m not fishing for a pat on the back, “you can do it”, so don’t feel like you need to respond in that way. I’m simply sharing and trying to take control back. The support of friends who were willing to listen to me vent back then also helped my recovery. And rest assured, I’m nowhere near the wreckage that I was then. One thing I’ve learned over the years, is the sooner you get a handle on it, the better.
It is my hope that something positive can come out of this. Maybe talking about depression will give it less power. Maybe putting this out there will lift the weight off a little-for myself and anyone else out there who can relate. Maybe my story can give someone hope. Hope that you can come out of the darkest times and end up stronger. Even if you relapse a little, it doesn’t mean that it’s over. You haven’t lost the fight for good. Faith and hope and dreams can still exist on the other side of this.
I must say, this post is a big deal for me. It has been one of my hardest to write and even harder to actually hit “publish” on. I’m nervous that this will detract from the message and tone I try to keep here. But, this is real. More people deal with it than we realize. Even the most successful people can battle it. The point is you are not your depression. I do believe all the positive mumbo-jumbo I write here. Beyond Mediocre is about the journey to be better than you think you can be. Sometimes that journey is harder than we expected. We just need to keep fighting.
Here’s how I’m fighting. This morning I registered for a local 1/2 marathon due to the very persistant coaxing from a fantastic friend. It’s in 51 days. Given that my longest run has been 4 miles, I’d say that this is a bit crazy! But that’s what I need. I need a big accomplishment to silence the negative voice. This is a huge one.
I also ordered seeds for my garden this morning. I do not have a green thumb. Every year I try to start some plants from seeds and end up buying plants anyway because mine don’t look that great. Not this year. I’m doing my 1st raised bed-not in containers-garden and I’m starting from seeds. I’m not going to continue whining about feeling like I have nothing that I’m good at. That’s the big “D” talking. All I have to say to that is, *puts hands over ears* “I’m not listening! I’m not listening!”.