Slaying The Beast

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!

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6 thoughts on “Slaying The Beast

  1. I’m so glad you’re feeling better. OK, so something I don’t talk about on my blog and have never admitted in writing, but maybe just hinted at, is that I have struggled with depression too. A blog friend who noticed something was up,encouraged me to “count my blessings” in writing on a regular basis. I thought it was stupid and too simplistic, but I humored her, just writing them in a message to her now and then. She made a habit of doing this on her blog every Friday. Then she posted a challenge asking her readers to post their blessings every Friday for six weeks, and I participated. And I’ve kept it going for over a year now in the form of my “Life is Good” posts. It’s not a cure and some weeks when I should be writing my Friday post, I get stubborn and decide to wallow in self-pity instead and don’t bother. But most weeks I try to make a list of the good things in my life. All in all, it helps, a little, just to put those positive thoughts in writing. Putting them in writing helps me to believe them, maybe only a little bit some weeks; other times, I fully believe them. It’s just a little something I do that helps. Maybe you’ll think about it and give it a try now and then too. Like I said, it’s not a magic trick to make you feel better all the time, but sometimes it can steer your thoughts in a better direction.

  2. I clicked over here after reading your comment on my post about how the “work” of becoming sucks! This post says more eloquently than I did what I was feeling about how hard it is to rise above whatever I am “feeling”… Why is the work so hard? Well, then I am reading a Wayne Dyer book that talks about the fact that in essence change is difficult, but staying the same is difficult too.

  3. Funny how posting how you feel makes you feel better. I posted that I made a decision and as soon as I hit post I felt better.
    Depression sucks but you deal with it. It doesn’t own you. It doesn’t define you either. I figure it is just part of lifes ebs and flows.
    You can’t appreciate the good if you don’t have the bad too.
    Wow I sound like a damn cliche.
    Anywhoo…. I am looking forward to your first “date” story.

  4. Terri-
    I have seen one or two instances where you have eluded to depression and I always read your “Life is Good” posts. I don’t guess I’ve commented on many of them but I’ve read everyone and always find them encouraging and uplifting. It’s a good idea and I’ll have to give that some thought. Thanks for the suggestion.
    Wendy-
    “Change is difficult, but staying the same is difficult too.” That’s so true, and most of the time the Change is worth the effort. Somedays change is more difficult than staying the same, but most days it’s not!
    Thanks for stopping by, it’s good to have you hear!
    Jody-
    It’s so true that the posting can really help. I get so wrapped up in the melee in my brain sometimes and it overwhelms me. It really helps sometimes to put it in writing and have it sorted out!

  5. Terri-
    I think I have seen once or twice where you eluded to depression and I’ve definitely read your “Life is Good” posts. I don’t guess I’ve commented on many of them but they’re always encouraging and uplifting. It is a good idea. I’ll have to give it some thought.
    Wendy-
    “Change is difficult, but staying the same is difficult too.” That’s so true. Some days change seems more difficult than the pay-off is worth, but most days it’s not!
    Glad to have you here!
    Jody-
    It really is amazing how much the posts help. Sometimes the melee in my mind becomes overwhelming and it helps a lot to get it written down and sorted out.

  6. Pingback: And They All Lived… « Riggledo

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