For many of the last 15 years I have looked for reasons within my life, my family or my upbringing to attribute blame for my depression, addiction and obesity. It was not until I convinced myself that attempting to apportion blame was not only futile but also highly, highly destructive. That last statement is I consider, the pivotal point in turning around my relationship with myself.
For a number of years I had known that there were ‘secrets’ lurking in the closets of my family history. I did not know enough details to be able to make an informed decision about those secrets and tried desperately to unravel them enough so that I would find something to blame for how I felt. I don’t really remember my young childhood and I was quite sure that I would unearth something cataclysmic and be able to categorically state that I had found the root of my evil. I found nothing and have now left that search behind me.
Hello?? Whether it is genetic or chemical or none of the above, you have to be pre-disposed to depression (and probably addiction). There are clearly life events that can precipitate overwhelming sadness, even short term depression but I have to say that I just shake my head when I read that this sportsman or celebrity has fallen into a deep depression and clawed their way out, all within a period of weeks. I don’t dispute that what people experience under those circumstances is very real and can be momentarily debilitating, I just sometimes wish it carried a different label. It leaves people like me thinking that they beat it, why can’t I?
My diagnosis was major depression. I have spent 15 years on anti-depressants and although I have quartered my dose and feel incredible clarity for that decrease, I am not ready to stop all together. Depression has been described as a black dog and several other metaphors. I think of mine as a fog and look at my internal weather forecast to determine whether I will need wet weather gear on a particular day. At times my fog was pea soup with an intense feeling of being weighed down, of having to physically push the fog aside to move through the day. These days were exhausting.
I used to wonder why it was that people I knew could breeze (or struggle) through life without the visible ups and downs that I experienced. As our children went through adolescence, my friend J was amazing, her life was unimaginably stressful, the experiences with one of her children was beyond anything imaginable and I marvelled at how she managed. I am guessing now that she used no energy on asking why and instead spent her time and energy getting through. She is truly one of the most inspiring and strong people I have ever met.
I am responsible for my own happiness and gladly accept that responsibility!
Next to blame, perfectionism or believing that if something could not be done to perfection, it should not be done at all was probably my most destructive belief. But now, I am on my way out to challenge my resolve again by joining a group celebration. I am looking forward to it!