Wednesday, June 22, 2011
A Greater Understanding- Depression
I began my "Greater Understanding" series as a way of addressing life's heavier subjects through the words of those who have lived them. I think it's important to talk about these issues, getting them out in the open will hopefully help dissolve some of the mystery and stigma surrounding them. Acknowledgement and understanding are I believe the first steps towards healing.
Today's post on depression was written by Heather H. from Gypsy Bitsy. Heather and I have recently become friends and she's challenged my thinking on things I thought I had all the answers to. It's been interesting to say the least.
In her words...
"When a person is born with a physical disability—a shortened leg, or only one lung—the world would never expect that person to ‘just get over it’. When a person has a disability, they learn how to use their bodies—make the most of their physical experience—they learn to navigate the world differently and perhaps more preciously because of their disability.
In many ways Depression is a disability. One popular drug company’s commercial asks: Where does Depression hurt?
The answer is: Everywhere.
When I was seventeen I was diagnosed with Chronic Depression.
And unfortunately, I wasn’t prescribed ‘chronic’ for my Depression. The doctor put me on Zoloft. A drug that—five years later—was prescribed to my friend Carly and is likely to have caused the volatile moodswing that resulted in her suicide.
When I was on Zoloft my brain was only working at half-speed. And for someone like me, whose personality is largely based on mental prowess, it was HIGHLY disturbing. My usual bright banter and sarcastic quips slowed down to a crawl. I felt like a tennis player standing around at the Wimbledon, no longer sure what the racket is for.
FUCK THIS SHIT.
I wrote it in all caps across the spine of my binder. Threw away the Zoloft. & woke up my brain, let’s get out of here.
If people can run marathons with metal legs, and swim with no arms, surely—I thought—Depression shouldn’t be that hard to deal with.
But the thing about Depression is that it’s a Tricky, GREEDY, Bastard. Those who are affected by Depression understand that statement.
Depression wants it all.
Depression can make us fat, or emaciate us. It can make us crazy. It can break the spirit, break the heart.
Depression makes us selfish, because when anyone is in an excruciating amount of pain they are not willing or able to help anyone else.
But mostly, Depression makes us liars.
We buy into the propaganda in our heads. We start believing we’re worthless, or that the world is an ugly place, we believe that other people will never love or understand us because of our disability. We believe those things so much, that we might even share those lies with other people.
So how do you ‘get over it’?
If you’re like me, with Chronic Depression, or Major Depression, or have a Mood Disorder, here’s step one: Go find a mirror, look at yourself, and tell yourself that it’s okay.
Telling yourself that it’s okay is the first step, because no healing can take place without acceptance.
Whenever your Depression crops up acknowledge it straight away. Remember, it’s a tricky greedy bastard, it will only get louder if it’s ignored. So look at that M-Eff-er, and say: Hey, Asshole, I’ve got a life to lead, and goals to make, and I don’t need to carry around your sixty pounds of bullshit and lies everywhere I go because I know better than what you’re telling me.
Take back control from the voices in your head.
Tell yourself whatever you need to hear. Tell yourself the Truth.
Get past your pride and start asking for what you need from other people in your life. If you need to be told you’re loved more often, ask more often. If you need a hug, ask for one. Don’t stare at your phone waiting for people to call you, call them. The more you put yourself out there, the more people will reciprocate.
Stop crouching your spirit under your Depression label. Say ‘I experience Depression’, rather than, ‘I am Depressed’. ‘Depressed’ is not my name. I am Heather. You are you. Make that distinction clear to yourself.
Staving off Depression is a constant battle.
Do not be seduced by the Enemy. Don’t dress it up in fancy black clothes and feed it comfort food, or play its favorite sad music, NEVER let it get you alone. It won’t hesitate. As soon as you’re weak enough, comfortable enough with this lethargy, Depression will take you to the darkest corner of your mind and convince you end your own life.
It’s a lie.
Write the truth: I [Name Here] am loved. I am capable of living a meaningful, successful, life. I matter. My life matters. There are things I enjoy: [make list]. People I love: [make list] And things I still want to experience: [make list].
Keep these lists close to you. In your wallet is a great place. Especially if Depression comes hunting you at the mall or at a party in a room full of people.
Lastly, there are many good Anti-Depressant medications that have been very helpful tools in fighting Depression. However, because Depression is a tricky greedy bastard, it’s not always satisfied by having the chemical balance restored in the body, it’s already shaped the way the thought process in the brain works—and so it’s important to also have a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist to talk to if you’re on medication.
Suicide risk increases with many Anti-Depressants.
1. Tell yourself that it’s okay. Depression is a type of disability, but you are not Abnormal.
2. Recognize that Depression is a tricky greedy bastard. Catch that guy at the door, block his entrance. Throw down like in Macaulay Culkin in HomeAlone.
3. Retrain the ‘Voice in Your Head’ to sound more like your best friend. Your inner voice should be kind, supportive, inquisitive, patient, like your best friend would be. (If your best friend is as much of an asshole to you as the Voice of Depression, get rid of him/her immediately)
4. Start asking for what you need. Don’t assume that people know your needs and are withholding. Like John Mayer said, “if you want more love, why don’t you say so?” It’s a rhetorical question.
5. Understand the difference between who you are, and what Depression is.
6. Depression is the enemy. Address its body of lies. Make it real. Then, kick it in the groin.
7. Write your Truths, to dismantle Depression’s lies. “Actually, I am pretty.” “People do love me, here are their names”
8. TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL, especially if you’re on medication. Friends are wonderful resources, so is family, but they are not mental health professionals, and even if they are it’s good to have someone who is an unbiased safe-zone.
Good luck, Warriors. & remember, I’m on the battlefield with you everyday. & so are millions of others. You are not alone.You are loved."
Heather, thanks for taking the time to contribute. I'm thankful you were able to fight back and not let this consume you. It would be a shame if we never met.