Saturday, June 11, 2016

Depression 'Round and 'Round

2003. I was mom to three un-understandable children under the age of 3. (Poor family planning there.)

It wasn't my first experience with depression.  But, it was my first experience when I finally understood it for what it was. I owned it.

I was depressed.

So, I did everything you were supposed to do. I sought out counselling. I leaned on my friends and family. I went on anti-depressants.

I liked the first two. I hated the third.

I felt icky. I felt foggy. It helped with the unhappy emotions... but it numbed the good ones, too. I just didn't like them. I stayed on anti-depressants only long enough until I felt like I was out of the pit. Then, I learned everything I could about self-care and how it could help me stay off meds in my future.

Self care became my religion. I learned that I needed a night each week, just one night, that I could reclaim myself from the Land of Toddlers, and I guarded that night with reverence. Over the years, what looked like self-care changed. As my children went into school, the need for One Night lessened, but I replaced it with weight loss, healthy eating, and exercise. Self Care always looked different -- but it always had the same purpose.

Depression has returned more than once since 2003... but I have always been able to head it off with Self Care.  If I felt the darkness returning, I'd put myself a little higher up on the Priority List and I could hold the status quo until the dark receded again.

I started a new anti-depressant yesterday.

Self Care wasn't working anymore. Actually, it's not that it wasn't working. It's that I wasn't doing it. Every time I felt like I started to get my feet under me on the Self Care Train, I'd have to throw it out the window to deal with family crisis. I couldn't take care of myself AND everyone else at the same time, and I never chose myself.

To be honest, it's hard to not feel like I've failed. Like if I had just done a better job at all the other stuff that I know helps me to feel better, I wouldn't have to resort to medication.

Cognitively, I know it isn't a cop-out. Cognitively, I know it's needed and that there is no shame in it. Heartfully, I don't.

Perhaps it was a point of pride. "I don't need medication. Depression is a shitstorm, but I've got this. All. By. My. Freakin'. Self."  And now I don't.

Now, I really don't.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

An Old Story and A New Perspective

I went "home" for the weekend over Memorial Day, and thus had a couple of very long drives to fill. I don't know what normal people do during long drives -- but I always turn on the music and just let my mind wander.

For hours.

Sometimes this is awesome. Sometimes this is dangerous. Your mind can go in strange places with nothing else to occupy it! This time, my mind wandered to something that happened a few years ago.

I'd been at a party of sorts, and a friend that I hadn't seen in awhile invited me to join his group at their table. I was quite a lot hesitant as I wasn't on great terms with everyone there -- but after a little prodding, I finally relented and agreed to come.

It wasn't awful... I met a few people. I caught up a very little with my friend. Conversations split up around the table, as they do... one of the people there spoke to me and said, "Look... I don't mean to be rude, but..."

An aside in retrospect, anyone who opens a conversation with that statement is about to be. 

".... we'd like to be alone -- could you leave?"

I swear that's true.  If you told me this story today, I'd ask you if you were sure it happened a few years ago and not... in high school.

I don't really know what you're supposed to do in that situation. I hadn't butted in, I'd been invited. In the end, I just felt incredibly embarrassed -- and angry.  Though I've never really known if I was angry at the person who said it because it was rude and hurtful... or if I was angry with myself for being embarrassed.

I went home.

I've thought of that night from time to time, but always stopped at the embarrassment. But, as I turned it over in my head the other day, I realized something I'd never really thought about before.

I'd been embarrassed.. .and I'd been hurt...  but I think I also felt relieved. I'd enjoyed catching up with my friend and meeting some new people -- but I'd also felt terribly uncomfortable in such close quarters with the people I wasn't okay with at the time. And while it was embarrassing, it was almost relieving to have an "out" and to not have to suffer through it.

Sometimes time and distance give you a little perspective.
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