Depression does not come in a ‘one size fits all’ version. In fact its manifestations are probably as varied as the number of people who suffer from it. After 15 years of living with depression, my depression radar is probably as highly tuned as anyone’s.
The first type of people are easy to pick and everyone knows one. They are the depressive souls who can see the negative in any situation. They can turn any situation around to be about them, their issues, their hangups, their negativity. Some time ago I made a conscious effort to remove these people from my life. At the time I was newly diagnosed with breast cancer and did not want any negativity in my life.
The second type are closed and private people, certainly more challenging to identify and unlikely to have shared their story. I don’t pretend to understand depression in this form. I have always been open about my journey with depression. I am aware of a few people who I have helped along the way, I am aware of others who cannot comprehend my approach or my acceptance of my depression.
The third type are the people who outwardly are very positive, in my case, sometimes over the top with positivity and take great delight in making others happy. I think for me that I always thought that if I could contribute to somebody else’s happiness that it might rub off on me. As I look back on the last 15 years, I know that there are many thought processes that should have been questioned, some that are at best quirky and some, I don’t know how any sensible person could have come to the conclusions I did. I’ll explore that more later.
As a depressive person my moods went almost in a sine wave. I would be lulled into a sense of security by a period when things seemed to be OK, and then I would plummet again. I did a lot of work with my mental health professional, S1, and attribute the knowledge and understanding I took from her and a few very close friends with my recovery. And I guess I say recovery tongue in cheek (my glass is always half full) as it will be a long time before I will consider myself forever cured.
I have to mention one other person, my husband G, who has never understood my depression. He does not need to understand it. He is my rock, my ballast and without him counter-balancing my sine waves, I would certainly not be where I am today and may not even still be alive.
I have never been suicidal with depression but certainly have gone to bed hoping not to wake up the next morning. That fact now is very confronting and one of the 501 reasons why I don’t want to go back there. Between being obese, abusing alcohol a dose of breast cancer and high blood pressure, there were a number of reasons why waking up in the morning may not have happened. In addition to the above, I was in constant pain. Every joint and muscle in my body ached. I blamed arthritis (my mum had it), tiredness, working too hard, anything but the choices that I was making for myself. I have a lot more to write about blame and responsibility, but that will come later as my story unfolds.
I have so many thoughts about what I need to share. I am primarily doing this for myself. Questioning my own thought processes is the way I have healed myself. Replacing my self-depreciating beliefs with belief in myself, an acceptance and love of myself and my circumstances has turned my life around. When I talk about how I felt, what I believed then and what I believe now, it sounds ridiculous that I was ever where I was in my mind before. By writing about it, it sounds even more ridiculous. I say ridiculous but that is the tip of the iceberg of emotions. Certainly confronting, sometimes frightening and sometimes just very, very sad that I could ever have thought that way.
I think that’s enough for one day. There will be a few more background posts ( a very brief history of my life, my relationship with alcohol and obesity and my experiences with breast cancer) and then I will move onto some more specifics and personal perspectives of my journey through depression.