I'm fumbling with my gratitude. I've been dropping it in the dirt and stepping over it instead of picking it up. Feeling resentful that I feel guilty about not embracing it.
I'm realizing that Depression does that. I'm not talking little "d" depression...the kind you feel when you have a bad day or even a bad couple of days. I'm talking Big "D" Depression...the kind that rattles your foundation for weeks and months and sometimes years at a time, hinders your sleep, messes with your joy, destroys your clear self-perception, removes your perspective, screws up your appetite, and leaves you in the lightless sub-basement of your psyche feeling like there is no way out.
I'm talking about the kind that feeds you poison that you willingly drink because "why not....you're just a piece of nothing important anyway so why not drink in the cruel things you tell yourself?"
I'm talking about the kind that most people don't want to talk about in the first person because it is, even today, taboo to mention. There is shame associated with it. Embarrassment that one might have it. Shhh...I have Depression...Shhhh....
Well I'm here to talk about it tonight. I'm here to look at it and discuss it. I've got it, I've had it for years, I resent the fuck out it and while I'm pretty good at coping with it or masking it or hiding it a lot of the time, it quite often lives with me like a hairshirt that I cannot ever completely remove.
I inherited it from my dad, and I feel blessed that, unlike my father, I don't feel the need to drown it in a bottle like he did. I have compassion for him in part because I share this blight on my spirit. I'm just lucky because I have better resources available to me, and kinder coping tools.
I've found that the tipping point from "having a bad day or 3" into "I'm trapped in the dark recesses of my soul and I'll never get out" is often hard to detect until later...and by the time I'm in it, I may be able to see what got me here, but I'm at a complete loss for how to extract myself from it.
Also, it often takes me a while to recognize that I'm IN it. That Depression has me in its grips and isn't letting go. It is too close, and it often looks like circumstance. It takes me not wanting to go anywhere, do anything, or see anyone for me to start to recognize it. It takes me crying regularly and often uncontrollably, not feeling resilient, on the edge of brittle at all times, and feeling constantly like I'm going to implode before I can see that I'm neck deep in it. Before I have the A-Ha moment that shows me "oh crap...I'm having a bout of Depression...bleh."
I've done a lot of cognitive behavioral therapy over the years. It has been a tremendous tool for me and has helped me to grow as a person, as a friend, and to, at the core, love myself. I'm incredibly thankful for it.
I look at therapy as being a lot like finding a good spiritual teacher; you go once a week and sit with your teacher, your teacher gives you some good fodder for thought and maybe some homework to do, you spend the week working on those thoughts and that homework and you come back to your teacher having learned something more about yourself and about the process of growth, just in time for your teacher to give you the next lesson. It is fantastic. There should never be shame in it. There is no failing in going to a therapist/counselor...in fact, you should be proud of yourself because you are choosing to take care of yourself and to face the things that do not serve you any more.
The hard part is that you actually have to shop for a therapist. You have to find one that is a good fit for you. They have to feel right, to have the right balance for YOU of listening, giving feed back, asking questions and you have to feel that you can trust them. When you're in the middle of Big "D" Depression, it is hard sometimes to persevere through the interview process, but when you find someone that is a good match, it is really rewarding.
In addition, I believe that medication, when monitored can be helpful. I've been on and off Wellbutrin over the past several years and it is a useful tool when I need it. It has helped me to get to a place where I can at least see the light under the door in the sub-basement which eventually allows me to walk toward it, and then up the stairs into the basement, and then up more stairs into the light of day.
I find it disturbing that the current trend in Depression treatment is primary care doctors prescribing anti-depressants and then not monitoring how they affect you while simultaneously not suggesting therapy in conjunction with their use. And, that being said, sometimes something is better than nothing to get you out of that hole.
I know medication is a loaded topic. I'm not saying that it is for everyone. Hell, I did many years of therapy, with therapists suggesting that I try meds and me fighting them about it before I'd even try them myself. Ultimately though, I'm glad I did. And what I'm saying is that it has helped ME personally and that I believe there shouldn't be a stigma attached to taking it. I'm not here to debate the merits or demerits of it. Please don't start. I'm simply speaking from my own experience. I am thankful for medication when I need it and for therapy as well. Yep!
I guess I had a lot on my mind. If anyone is still reading then let me sing my gratitudes as follows;
1) I'm thankful that I don't feel shame about having Depression. Frustration? Yes. Resentment? Yes. But NO shame.
2) I'm thankful to Laura for writing her Good today. It reminded me that writing these is always good for me...even when I don't know what is going to come out.
3) I'm thankful to Katie for a hilarious conversation tonight that involved crazy hand gestures and the phrase "Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Katie...the Health Educator". Also...PIGEONS ...I swear...PIGEONS!
4) I'm deeply thankful to Nathan for his gifted acupuncture ability, for his patience when I go melty, and for his kindness.
5) I'm thankful to and for Whitney. For a wonderful healing massage, for happy listening, and for your continued friendship.
6) I'm INCREDIBLY thankful that I seem to be healing from this last bout of neck hell and that I fairly consistently turn my head almost normally and without pain or arm numbness after 2 1/2 weeks of pain and deep discomfort. (Again...thank you Nathan.) Next up, please the gods, dancing and yoga again...oh please oh please oh please.
7) Better living through chemistry.
8) Friends who trust me and share their hurts and fears along with their joys and triumphs with me. I am honored. Truly.
9) I love honey.
10) Fantastic, clever reminders to do breast exams. This is both of those things with some YUM thrown in for good measure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsyE2rCW71o&feature=share
11) Selling a print of one of my photos this week. It feels good.
12) Learning new words like bloviate and borborygmos and being able to share the delight of the word petrichor. :)
13) Being a word nerd.
Tassels and Stripes
20 hours ago