I have long term issues with depression. They are not disabling in that I can work, I have friends and a life but sometimes it all means nothing. This post is a warm up for mental health blog day which is coming up very soon. I have found it important to be honest about my depression and anxiety because I am at different points on the mental health spectrum throughout my life and have observed that others are as well. There is a lot of pretending going on and I suppose that is part of survival but it is not part of my recovery.
I slip and slide regularly between states of anxious tension and giving up. I have a reputation for intensity, for quick cutting remarks, a history of hurting other children. These could be seen as maladaptive personality traits but the difference is that I did not want to be like this. I sought help because I was miserable and have found several solutions to the irritability and stuckness which has given me hope if not a cure.
1. Patience. There may not be a cure to cancer, schizophrenia or depression and indeed your life is your own to take but there may be a good moment around the corner of existence. My life has been long, but not in terms of the length of human civilization. I can learn very little from 10 years of pain. I am not a patient person. I race my own shadow, eat Nutella out of a jar and interrupt conversations constantly. We aren’t all born to be Nelson Mandela but dealing with an illness involves choices around growing through the cracks. I don’t judge those who chose to end their lives. Resiliency, like grace, can’t be taught but it is something that appears without bidding and I don’t want to miss it.
2. Follow a program. Even though many people are not extroverts like I am, it’s unbelievably helpful to have a support group in which you can help others and others can help you. Go to meetings and keep up connections weekly if possible.When you or others get sick, this is a life insurance policy.
3. Use what you’ve got. I stare at all the blocked doors and sometimes miss the opportunities to be part of life. I have had a reputation for being negative, for being too falsely positive in reaction to that and one of disappearing into nothingness. I have challenged the internal message that I get easily emotionally overwhelmed by experimenting with my limits. I’ve learned that I frequently feel trapped but that doesn’t mean I never go places I have hesitations about. I try new things because I’m sure I’m going to fail and sometimes I prove myself wrong. I know it’s hard to do this when there’s not enough energy to move a pin but I have also learned that I have to weigh the benefits of staying in and going out and doing. Balance is good. Find your own.