There are so many different reasons that people finally take responsibility for their health. The motivations are as varied as the simplicity of being raised that way by conscientious parents to the harsh wake up call that a scary diagnosis brings. In my own journey, there were a few things that have always made me want to be healthier, but only one thing that actually shifted the responsibility from external sources to myself.
I have dealt with depression for as far back as I can remember. I know my particular brain is a loaded gun because of its genetic wiring and so many things in my childhood pulled the trigger. It took years (YEARS!) of struggle in all the conventional ways before I stopped handing over the responsibility for my depression to therapists and medication. There were days when I really didn’t think I’d make it to the following sunrise. The worst days found me saturated with a fatigue for life so dense that I had no desire to make it to the next sunrise. (Sunrise? There’s a sun? And it rises? How ridiculous!) I’ve scared myself and my friends and my family several times with the depths to which I’m capable of diving.
Depression is one of the most pernicious forms of mental illness. It’s the murky swampland to me between sanity and insanity. Most of the reasons that I feel depressed are completely sensical. They aren’t irrational. Some are completely irrational. (I’m really not a horrible, unloveable creature.) The greatest obstacle for me (as I believe it is to others that have the tendency for melancholy), is that we really are seeing things that are depressing or have experienced things whose possible consequences to which depression is but a piece of birthday cake in comparison or are THINKERS, brooder, ruminators. Often, we are the people that see the logical consequences of cutting down all the trees to put in a fancy new mall. Not the new-place-to-go-shopping consequences, but, there-goes-fresh-air-and-water-and-birdsong-and-life consequences. The well meaning around us just want us to feel better. “Think about the beauty of rainbows.”, they’ll say. (Yeah, with no trees there’ll be no rain and then no rainbows, is all I can think about to that.) Or…”Cheer up.” (Thanks, I hadn’t thought of that.!)
The most conventional treatment for depression has been talk therapy and medication. I’ve done both, with varying results. Every time I’d begin a new bout of therapy or a new type of medication, I’d hope (okay, hope is a strong word for what I’d actually feel…more like…curiosity?) that this was the one. Now, I’d be cured. This therapist seems to have all the answers. This drug will fix my brain!
Spoiler alert. Not so much.
Therapy and drugs would often get me through the very darkest moments. But, eventually, I’d be back in the same place.
Until, one day (wow, that sounds like a magical epiphany. It wasn’t…it took T I M E.), I stopped pretending that the depression was fixable. I stopped blaming it for my life. I stopped hating it. I started listening to it. I starting to make it my ally. I accepted myself as a special needs child. I had special needs (that really aren’t all that unique). I finally accepted that I was more sensitive than most to life, that I was more like the canary in the mine than anything else.
I assumed the responsibility TO my depression. (To be clear, I am not, nor is anyone else, responsible FOR their depression.) It was just part of who I was. It is part of who I am.
In Part 2, I will talk about the ways in which I dance with depression while maintaining the lead.
*This is my story and not a prescription of any kind.