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!

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.

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.