The Return of My Old Friend Depression

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Depression has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was first treated for this debilitating condition when I was only five years old and it has almost cost my life several times. In fact, my first attempt to end my life was at the age of seven. I have successfully been in treatment for many years, but lately it has reared its ugly head once again.

It began last weekend with a family crisis that overwhelmed my normally very strong defenses. I won’t go into specifics because it is private, but it was very discouraging and frightening. I have a great lack of ability to handle very high stress, and well, I lost perspective. What I mean is, I lost my usual “it is going to be alright” position. I suddenly found myself feeling hopeless, helpless and very angry. I know better, but I allowed those emotions to remain inside, not telling anyone how I was feeling. A week later, they are still seething, although not as viciously as they had been.

I hate feeling like this. The spinning thoughts of gloom and doom, the voices in my mind saying over and over that we are too old now to be anyone, etc. etc. I’ve thought suicidal thoughts, something I haven’t experienced for many years. This surprised me, as I have a very strong yearning to live to be very old and am normally very optimistic. I had thought my days of wanting to end it all were long over. Surprise!

I have spent several days not talking to anyone. Even in our very small apartment where I live with three family members, I have spent my time with my headphones on ignoring everyone. I’ve been to the public library twice, spending hours away from everyone sitting by myself with my headphones on. In other words, I’ve been isolating more than usual, unable to handle speaking or being around others.

What am I doing about this bout of depression?

I have taken steps to make sure that my family knows I have had some suicidal thoughts so they can watch me for any sign I may be losing control and might act on those thoughts. Anyone who has been in this situation knows that it is difficult to be honest about secret thoughts such as these. Breaking this secrecy is vital to surviving to be old when you have a history as I do of suicide attempts. I have no intention right now of harming myself, but I know from experience just how quickly those thoughts can take over and become actions. I am using techniques such as listing all the positive things in my life and making lists of the things I am grateful for, it is difficult to kill yourself when you are feeling positive and grateful.

I am fighting my tendencies to remain alone. I’ve begun forcing myself to speak to my family and leaving my bedroom door open as much as I can tolerate. I’ve made my family aware I am in a battle and they are helping me to draw out of my emotional prison. I am attending meals in our kitchen instead of eating alone in my room and trying to engage in conversations. It is hard when you are depressed, but it must be done.

One tool I’ve been trying to use is to use my talent as a writer and blog about my experience. Perhaps someone will read this today and realize they too can beat this enemy called depression.

My brain keeps telling me that life is a never-ending series of problems and that I can’t win so why try. My answer to my brain is, I will not give up the fight! I am worth fighting for and through my struggle I will not only become a better and stronger human being, I will also be able to help others because I have been in the trenches where they are in their lives.

Life is a precious gift. I plan on using it well. How about you?

“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”

Anne Lamott

 

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