Wow. Who… What was that? Hmmm.
OK. Let’s talk turkey shall we? It’s not really as bad as all that… Most days.
Most of my readers already know that I’ve struggled throughout my life with clinical depression. It runs in the family. It wasn’t formally diagnosed until about seven years ago when I went to the Employee Assistance Program office of my company for advice on how to deal with a co-worker with whom I was in conflict. I never did get the answer to my question. The EAP person asked me why I was there, I told her, she proceeded to ask me a litany of questions about things that had nothing to do with the problem and then finished the session by saying, “Sounds to me like you’re depressed. You should get some help with that. Have a nice day.” OK, she wasn’t quite that cavalier about it, but pretty close.
I was irritated by this, but not really surprised by what she had told me and with great trepidation, I did seek help, first from the Adult Psychiatry department of my health care provider, which was a joke and then from medication which was a stop-gap measure at best. Even more to my dismay, I sought out and found a therapist who operated on a “sliding scale” fee, meaning the fee was based on my income and often, as in my case, discounted from her regular fee. My health insurance doesn’t cover this and I am paying out of pocket for her services. Its money well spent, but it’s a lot of money that could be well spent in many other ways.
About a year and half ago, I hit a slump and on the advice of my therapist I took a leave of absence from work and took part in an “Intensive Outpatient Program” for depression. I was in this program, three days a week, for three weeks and I felt like it was a complete waste of time with the simple exception that it kept me from having to go to work. Three weeks away from work and I was feeling a whole hell of a lot better.
Then I decided that five years on anti-depressants was more than enough and it was time to stop taking them. I weaned myself from the pills very slowly to ensure there were no side effects or withdrawal type symptoms. When it was done, I felt even better. Actually, that’s not quite true. Or it is true but entirely too simplistic. In a lot of ways I felt exactly the same. I felt the same level of depression, same amount of fear about what happens next. But at the same time, I felt good about having taken control of the situation, taking it upon myself to manage my life and my symptoms.
For almost ten months, I’ve been “drug free” and it’s been going fairly well. My job is still a trigger for me and often times I feel like crap while I’m at work and then snap out of it when I leave. (My job, in a very real way, is killing me and I have to do something about it.)
This past week has been a real struggle for me. Money is tight. I’ve taken on additional responsibilities. I’ve made some positive steps, but I’ve also had to make some difficult decisions. And yes, for a couple of days, I felt as if the darkness might win out. The interesting thing is I immediately started to feel better after I wrote my last post.
Through all this, I have learned something new. It seems likely that the depression may never fully subside, though I pray with every fiber of my being that it will. What I’ve learned is that “happiness” is sometimes a conscious decision, one that I’m sometimes not strong enough to make. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about being artificial or dishonest. I’m not talking about pretending to be, and to feel, something that I’m not. I know people like that – I work with people like that – and I hate them. No, I’m talking about making conscious choices about how I’m going to allow what I feel to affect me.
I wish, with all my being that the darkness would turn to light, that the beast would take his last breath. I wish that I had the strength to take that plunge into the “molten thoughts” below my narrow path. There’s a lot there. I know there is. I suspect if I could just find a way to tread those waters, I’d find a lot of healing.
I stared at that last sentence for a long time trying to figure out exactly what I was trying to say, how to phrase it. And the thing that kept coming to mind was, “If I could just find a way to safely tread those waters…” I think that’s really the point, though. There is no safe way. The only real answer is to dive in head first, to take the risk. It will hurt. I will get burned. But hopefully, when it’s all over, I’ll be whole.
This process of healing is work. It’s hard work! I don’t mean to imply that I have all the answers or that I know what to do, because I don’t. I’m still too scared to take the leap. And there’s a lot that gets in the way of it, but I suppose knowing what’s needed is a big step in the process.
Anyway, I just wanted to say that I’m OK. Things are moving along. Some days are worse then others and I have some big decisions to make and steps to take, but I’ll survive.
I will live to post another day!