Normal demands on a depressed person

On the wake of a couple of women I admire owing up to suffering depression for years, I have to more fully acknowledged my struggle with the illness.  Here is an article that involves both those people.

I have, for years, been telling a number of folks that I am clinically depressed. But never, not even for one minute, it occurred to me that I had a disability, and that life hit me differently than it did other folks. I always said it, but more as an excuse than anything else, “Everyone is different. It bothers me, even if it doesn’t bother you.” Or, “The problem is that you guys can’t see my wheelchair.”

I knew it. I knew it at a gut level. I said it. But It didn’t stop me from feeling guilty. I thought I should perform like others did. With my education and experience, I should have a great job. I should earn lots of money. I should be happy. I should enjoy life. I should. I should.

If somebody would’ve told me that in my vulnerable state it was “normal” that small issues would bother me hugely, and that stuff that others don’t sweat I would blow out of proportion, at least I would’ve given myself a break. But no. I kept pushing myself. I kept thinking that I needed to get over my pitiful sorrows and be normal.  Not only did small stuff bothered me and hurt me deeply. I felt guilty for being bothered. The chains were thick and heavy. No wonder I never wanted to get out of bed in the morning.

Sadly enough, It has been my life partner who has pushed me harder, in his quest to help me. It has taken him years to come to understand the dept of my sorrows, though he is getting there. I’m not even sure the psychologist I’ve been seeing for a long time actually grasps the depth of my despair. And these are two very nice people. They’re not nasty or anything. They just don’t live inside me, and if I don’t tell them, how are they to know?  I have to speak up. I have to own up my suffering.

I truly don’t know where to go from here, other than giving myself a huge pat on the back for making it this far in one piece.

I need to find a way to come out of denial but, at the same time, keep up the battle to feel better. Maybe the goal should be to feel better and not perform better, and let the performance be the result. Maybe I’ve had it wrong all these years. I have been trying to perform so I can be happy. Maybe I need to be happy so I can perform.  But it is an egg-chicken conundrum. Because feeling like a failure, how can I achieve happiness?  By telling myself that it is alright to be a failure?  That people who fail aren’t bad or lazy, just different?

Yes, it sounds bad and it is bad. But for some reason I refuse to take medication.  I think I will gain weight, lose my sexual drive, and become dependent.  And that would just make me feel worse.

Anyway, that’s what the battle looks like today. Thank you for reading!

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Surviving

Today, a tennis player quit tennis because of depression. A beautiful, apparently well-loved athlete with a lot of potential threw the towel because, she said, there are days when she can’t get out of bed.

I am a person who struggles with depression day in and day out. My normal mood is taciturn and serious. I rarely smile, let alone laugh. To get out of bed and be busy all day is a successful day, a day in which I didn’t spend any time staring at the TV set or the wall or the ceiling. It is not that I was happy or optimistic. It’s just that I didn’t give myself the chance to feel the pain. What pain?

The tennis player’s retirement made me think, once again, of the reasons why I have hard time living.

I have come to understand that words kill. With my words, I have killed a lot of people. But before that happened we, my siblings and I, were killed first. By our mother.

Yes, I know she had good reasons to be that way. Yes, I know she was hurting. Yes, I know she did her best.

But that doesn’t change the effect her harshness had in me. She thought that being a good mother was to always demand more of you, to never be satisfied, to always say that you could  have done more or better. That was her job, to be the devil on your shoulder.

And as if making us feel inadequate, useless, and inferior wasn’t enough, she did it with slaps, punches, insults, and even tears of manipulation when nothing else worked. Her job was to make us miserable. And she accomplished it.

Here are some of  her “loving” choice words for us: disgraceful, idiot, lazy, sinner, dirty, disgusting, disrespectful, useless. On top of that, we were a heavy load and the reason of all her problems. We also owed her everything as well. It was as if she was doing charity, as if we weren’t her responsibility.

Every time she beat us, every time she insulted us, she killed us a little. And every time we see her, she kills us again. She is a murderer of souls, of innocent souls.

Today, we all walk around depressed to death, almost convinced that we are upsetting the ground by stepping on it, that we are worthless of of being out there in the world pretending to be somebody.  Sometimes I think that that’s why I walk with my head down. Maybe I don’t want to look up and see all those people whom I seem to believe deserve better than me at all levels.

I don’t hate my mother. I just wish I wasn’t so dead. I wish I could spring out bed in the morning loving everyone and thinking everyone loves me. I just wish I could see the purpose of my life. I wish the suffering would end. I wish I could say that the shackles have been broken for good, but that isn’t the case just yet. Right now, I just go on day-parole once in a while. I don’t live. I survive.

How do I survive?

In the morning I read spiritual books. Right now, for instance, I am reading Defy Gravity by Caroline Myss.  The books help, because they inspire good thoughts that help me get out of bed. I read for a while, then I try to meditate, by clearing my mind from thoughts and trying to stay that way for a few minutes. Then I pray. I actually pray. I do not pray to a god in the sky, no. I don’t think I pray to anyone. I just talk to myself. I tell myself nice things. Like today is going to be good, you can do it.  It isn’t so bad.

Then I get out of bed with enough strength to live another day. And that’s how I survive.

Update

I think it’s incredible how my life turned around ever since I decided to start practicing spirituality again.  The good news is that even though I haven’t been writing for a while, at least the beginning was recorded on this blog. So I know exactly where to look back and compare.

I continue to do my spiritual rituals. I read a lot less, just because I don’t need so much anymore, and I don’t have the time. But I still read every morning and meditate. It helps enormously.

The place where I started volunteering decided to pay me because, well, I am so darned good they think.  So for now, I am being paid until the end of September. That’s good. It’s a  chunk of money I wasn’t expecting that will give me peace of mind for a while until I find another job.

Friends have come back into my life out of the blue. Just last Friday I went for dinner with a  friend I hadn’t seen in 8 years, because she now lives in another city. I was telling her how I thought that my former co-workers hated me. It turns out she thought I’d been nice, cheerful, and friendly. This is news to me. But I believe what happened was that my negative mindset filtered out the many good experiences and kept the focus on the few bad ones.

So, anyway, I am back in “business.”  My life isn’t perfect but it is more normal that it had been for a  few years.  But I’m focusing on being me 100%, on not beating myself up for my mistakes, and on letting life flow as it will.  I am actually determined to do away with guilt. That’s the detestable gift I received from my mother that I am throwing out the window for good.

And speaking of my mother, I continue to hear stories of her talking trash about me. And I think enough is enough. There is no reason why I should pursue any kind of relationship with someone who hates me that much. So, again, goodbye mother. I just can’t let anything make me unhappy. I am tired of feeling unhappy.

So, even though I am aware that hardly anyone reads this blog, here is my status, for record keeping purposes.

Using the G word differently

I read the Daily Word, every day, a Silent Unity publication. It is the equivalent of the Fundy Christian Daily Word.

Today’s portion was interesting, in that it used the G (god) word more than usual. When I read this line:

I am protected at all times, safe and secure in the all-encompassing presence of God.

My reaction was, “Yeah, right. As if god will keep me safe if I get hit by a car.”

Then I realized that I could interpret that as inner strength. As in, “I am strong inside, and I remain cool and collected no matter what happens. I protect myself.  If anyone insults, patronize me, racially discriminate me, I protect myself by not taking it personally.”
I can draw that interpretation because I know that by “god” they mean ME–the perfect person I was before life ran all over me and shred me to pieces. I’ve read so in their literature (they actually mean the universe, of which I’m part). Then I went through the entire passage with that in mind, and what do you know? In the psychological realm, it all made sense. The portion contains positive words to live by, even if includes the G word that the majority uses so differently.
I guess the trick is to understand that all inspiration is strictly spiritual. And it is just that inspiration for inner strength. Once we’re pumped up, we go out there and “break” a leg.
PROTECTED
I am safely centered in God.

Spirit within guides my steps and lights my way. I am protected at all times, safe and secure in the all-encompassing presence of God.

Circumstances in the outer world cause me no fear, because my heart is full of God’s love, full of God’s presence. I acknowledge this powerful Presence, give thanks and center myself in its peace.

Where love, peace and confidence prevail, no harm can enter. God within me is a fortress of power and protection. My thoughts are positive and my words affirmative as I recognize my security in God within. I am calm and self-assured, helping others to feel safe and secure as well.

Things going well

I’m quite busy these days, with summer, volunteer work and all. But I continue reading and practicing my spiritual disciplines. I love meditating. Which is, you know, sitting there for a while trying to think about nothing. It is so relaxing. I do it at the tune of Nature Music on cable TV.

The reading is what keeps me going, though. Yesterday, I was getting upset because I have a “user” who wants to micromanage my team. I say “my” because I’m the team leader. Then, I read in some book that most things that bother us or that we get upset about don’t matter at all. I immediately remembered many incidents in which I was agitated, offended, or whatever. Looking back, the stuff I was taking so seriously didn’t matter one little bit. That realization stopped the negativity, and allowed me to enjoy a few hours of worry free bliss, which is so rare for me.

I don’t know if there is a supernatural force behind all there is–or if it is all natural. But I know that ever since I started talking to the Universe, or to the source of all life, acknowledging that I’m part of it, my life has changed tremendously. I needed that connection with my inner self. I needed a place to figure things out on my own, a way to find psychological release.

One thing that really helps is to count one’s blessing. I’ve been doing that. An incredible number of good things have happened to me in a short period of 3 weeks or so.  Of course, all that could’ve happened even if I hadn’t been keeping my spiritual practice. However, I now notice. And keeping my mind on good things is half the battle, because it makes me feel special. It helps me walk with my chin up expecting more good stuff.

There are folks who are naturally optimistic and expect good things of life. Those folks probably don’t need to practice rituals. But I do. And I have nothing against anyone who can do without said rituals. I figure we all need to do whatever it takes to live another day, and reading and meditating is what I have chosen to do.

But, what has been so good? I got out of the house to meet others. I have met all kinds of cool people from all walks of life, and I love it. I have gained a new trust in the human race. I’m no so afraid of people anymore… just a little bit.

I got a volunteer job that I love and gets me out of the house daily. I’m working with former classmates and friends whom I love and love me. That is extremely important to me.

All kinds of good deals have come my way. I find money on sidewalks. People give me things. I discover incredible deals. Today, for example, we happened to be downtown and decided to go to Sears. We discovered they were having a sale. We went in and spent $300.00. He bought 10 pairs of pants, 3 sweaters, and other stuff. I bought 8 blouses, 4 pants, and a purse. We basically have new wardrobes, for $300.00.

Out of the blue, I got a job interview. My instructor sent the resume. I don’t know what will come of it. But at least I’ll practice my interview skills.

So basically, in 4 weeks, I’ve gotten myself a whole new life, and I like it. I still feel wobbly. I feel like I just stood up and somebody can put a finger on my shoulder and push me backwards. I feel like a toddler trying to walk and feeling afraid to fall any second. But at least I’m finally walking, after 6 years of isolation and depression.

I don’t know what the future has for me. I’m going to have to take it one day at a time. Because I’m darned scared of thinking longer than that.

Continue doing my spiritual practice

I’m quite busy these days, with summer, volunteer work and all. But I continue reading and practicing my spiritual disciplines. I love meditating. Which is, you know, sitting there for a while trying to think about nothing. It is so relaxing. I do it at the tune of Nature Music on cable TV.

The reading is what keeps me going, though. Yesterday, I was getting upset because I have a “user” who wants to micromanage my team. I say “my” because I’m the team leader. Then, I read in some book that most things that bother us or that we get upset about don’t matter at all. I immediately remembered many incidents in which I was agitated, offended, or whatever. Looking back, the stuff I was taking so seriously didn’t matter one little bit. That realization stopped the negativity, and allowed me to enjoy a few hours of worry free bliss, which is so rare for me.

I don’t know if there is a supernatural force behind all there is–or if it is all natural. But I know that ever since I started talking to the Universe, or to the source of all life, acknowledging that I’m part of it, my life has changed tremendously. I needed that connection with my inner self. I needed a place to figure things out on my own, a way to find psychological release.

One thing that really helps is to count one’s blessing. I’ve been doing that. An incredible number of good things have happened to me in a short period of 3 weeks or so.  Of course, all that could’ve happened even if I hadn’t been keeping my spiritual practice. However, I now notice. And keeping my mind on good things is half the battle, because it makes me feel special. It helps me walk with my chin up expecting more good stuff.

There are folks who are naturally optimistic and expect good things of life. Those folks probably don’t need to practice rituals. But I do. And I have nothing against anyone who can do without said rituals. I figure we all need to do whatever it takes to live another day, and reading and meditating is what I have chosen to do.

But, what has been so good? I got out of the house to meet others. I have met all kinds of cool people from all walks of life, and I love it. I have gained a new trust in the human race. I’m no so afraid of people anymore… just a little bit.

I got a volunteer job that I love and gets me out of the house daily. I’m working with former classmates and friends whom I love and love me. That is extremely important to me.

All kinds of good deals have come my way. I find money on sidewalks. People give me things. I discover incredible deals. Today, for example, we happened to be downtown and decided to go to Sears. We discovered they were having a sale. We went in and spent $300.00. He bought 10 pairs of pants, 3 sweaters, and other stuff. I bought 8 blouses, 4 pants, and a purse. We basically have new wardrobes, for $300.00.

Out of the blue, I got a job interview. My instructor sent the resume. I don’t know what will come of it. But at least I’ll practice my interview skills.

So basically, in 4 weeks, I’ve gotten myself a whole new life, and I like it. I still feel wobbly. I feel like I just stood up and somebody can put a finger on my shoulder and push me backwards. I feel like a toddler trying to walk and feeling afraid to fall any second. But at least I’m finally walking, after 6 years of isolation and depression.

I don’t know what the future has for me. I’m going to have to take it one day at a time. Because I’m darned scared of thinking longer than that.

Volunteer Work

To be honest, I haven’t been looking for work. I was too depressed to do it. I had been having trouble with my self-esteem. That’s why I decided to start my beloved spiritual practices again. It was that or jumping off the bridge.

My spiritual practice consists of meditating quietly, reading inspirational books, and saying affirmations that affirm situations opposite to the negativity I’m feeling. If I think I will never find employment, I say, “I find a great job.”

Anyway, thankfully, I found volunteer work. It’s like a practicum. I’ll work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, during July and August. I’m very excited about that, because it will give me hands on experience on the stuff I learned at school. That will sky rocket my self-esteem.

So, I feel good today.

Dealing with others

Even back in times of Plato and Aristotle, philosophers and mystics believed that we are all one. And that all there is constitutes what many call god. From that point of view, hurting another person is hurting myself, and loving another person is loving myself. This is one of the metaphysical teachings that I like. Is it true? I don’t know. Does it have the potential to help me deal with others effectively? Yes.

The popular word Namaste originates from that belief of the union of all things. So that when I say namaste to you, I mean that I salute the divinity in you. That is, I acknowledge that you’re divine, as divine as I am. Because, “We are all god(s).”

Those who know me realize that dealing with others is one of my issues. I wasn’t respected as a child and, therefore, in the past I didn’t have any qualms disrespecting others when I felt attacked.

But the issue is not so much the disrespect as it is the feeling of being attacked–which is usually untrue.

This past winter I had a very interesting experience dealing with a young man (decades my junior) at school. I sat next to him for about 5 hours a day, and we worked together in groups, a lot. He is painfully shy and off-the-charts smart. For some reason, I developed a fascination for him. I just loved his beautiful mind. He could sit there and finish in two hours what would take me 25 hours and other classmates up to 40.  I had never met a genius quite like him.

But he is rough around the edges. You talk to him and he ignores you, because he is deep in the zone. You offer him something, anything–candy, gum, an apple, a pencial–and 100% of the times he says, “No.”

He never says, “No, thanks.”  Or “maybe some other time.”  He says “No.”  He loves to help, but if he is busy, he brushes you off pretty quickly.

But I forgave everyone of his misdeeds. Because I liked him, and because I understood he was different.  Instead of being hurt or angry, I would tease him to no end  (tickle him, hide his food). At first he was scared like a little puppy. But he grew to like me as much as I liked him. The last two months, we sat there all morning doing homework, teasing each other, and laughing almost non stop. Like I said to him, it was a miracle that we ever got anything done, but we did. Our group projects got the best marks in the class. As a team, we were an A+ team.

I’ve been wondering what would happen if I gave others the benefited of the doubt like I did with my young friend. Perhaps what I need to do is tell myself that one way or another everyone is “divine, ” or worthy.

I’m pretty sure that I won’t always develop an awesome friendship with everyone I meet, but I can respect them and give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps, at least sometimes,  I will find out that there is a beautiful mind behind the grumpy face and the rude responses. And I love beautiful minds.

Learning about Myths

I have to admit that I’ve been hearing for a long time about the importance of sacred myths, but honestly, it never did tickle my fancy.  My explanation to that is that having been a left-brained person all my life, I always wanted accuracy, exact results, formulas.

I was born with an ability to do calculus, physics, computer programming, and the like. In addition, I grew up a fundamentalist Christian. What the latter did to me was create the illusion that there were perfect explanations for everything. The Bible was truth and inerrant. If something seemed untrue or illogical, an explanation was found, because the Bible was perfect.

Then, when for years I leaned toward atheism, I attacked the literal interpretation of the Bible. I still do. And because I’d been hurt so much by the said literal interpretation, I was adamantly against using the Bible any other way.

Yesterday, I was sitting at a metaphysics class, when I had a revelation of sorts. I realized that myths don’t have to be perfect to be helpful. Shakespeare’s plays are neither perfect nor literally true. But there is wisdom to be gained by reading his plays. If we were to examine all the myths and fiction ever created, we will find inconsistencies, errors, and even less than praiseworthy lessons.

The beauty of myths is that we can use them to help  ourselves. Because we are not claiming that they’re divinely inspired, or literally true, or that if we don’t believe them we’ll go to hell, we can learn from the good and throw away the rest.

When it comes to the divine or the unexplained, we really don’t know. At least I don’t know. I have the feeling that there is something out there bigger than me–the universe. But I have no idea what it looks like, where it came from, or where it’s going. I have no concrete explanations.

I know, however, that I can feel something when I experience nature. I know that certain music stirs feelings in me. I know that miraculous healing does happen (much less often than some claim). I know that psychic phenomena is real (some accounts are anyway).

But more than anything, I know that I feel good when I get in touch with my inner self. I know that I love to be on my own feeling the reality of me, of the awesome human being I am. And  myths help me get in touch with that mystic part of me that I love to experience.

So, sitting at that class yesterday– prompted by nothing the speaker said–I made a realization and a decision: myths like the Bible have glimpses of truth. The book is highly imperfect. It was written by people, and it represents ancient thought. But some parts of it point to that mysticism that being human is all about.

Am I going to read the Bible everyday from now on and make it “My Daily Bread?” Unlikely. There is way too much good material out there. I wouldn’t want to focus on one book and miss out on the rest. All I’m saying is that I will no longer wince and reach out for the closest exit when someone cites a Bible verse. Instead, I will learn whatever is worth and will go on with my life.

Recycling biblical knowledge

I am reading a book called Discover the Power Within You, by Eric Butterworth. I will probably have more to say about it in coming days.

This is a book that once Operah said changed her life, and I can see why. The book comes from the Unity tradition which teaches that we’are all part of god.  God is the ocean, we are a wave. God is the ground, we are the flowers.

Unity, of course, isn’t the only movement that teaches pantheism. Buddha. Lao Tse, Plato, the Dalai Lama, and many others teach the same concept. What’s different about Unity is that they use the Bible.

It’s pretty neat for a former Bible freak like me, for a I know all the verses and the traditional interpretation. In my opinion, the Unity people are just using the Bible to teach their philosophy. It’s a tool, much in the same way as you would use the Little Red Riding Hood story to teach a kid a lesson.

But I find that knowing so much about the Bible and Jesus is helping me get the point much easier. Yes, I’ve read a lot about positive thinking from a lot of people, but it never did hit home.  It’s also fun and at times even funny. For example, the book says that when Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life,” he meant that we should all think that way about ourselves. It was an affirmation, basically, that Jesus used, and that we can use as well.

I think it would be funny if I went around saying to people, “I am the way, the  truth, and the life.”

On the other hand, if I believe that, it will stop me from trying to find answers in all the wrong places. I know that when it comes to my life, I have all the answers.