Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Depression (My Story) / Journey Towards Restoring Peace

I know some people doubt the validity of depression. They think all you need to do is “think happy thoughts” and the depression magically disappears.

If depression isn’t valid, why is so much money spent on anti-depressants and therapy? Somebody must think that it exists…a whole lot of people, as a matter of fact.

This is my story.

My first glimpse of feeling “the blues” occurred around the age of nine. I found out the real story behind my mom moving to California. I was raised by my grandparents, and although my mom took my younger sister to California, she left me behind. I was three when she left, but around the time I was eight, I started questioning why my family dynamic look different than other kids. Grandma decided it was time to tell me some of the truth as to what took place. It changed my perception of things, not because my grandma said anything negative about my mom, but because what my mom told me and what Grandma had told me about that time didn’t add up. I started finding out discrepancies in my mom’s telling of things, which led me to believe Grandma more so than her.

It wouldn't be the last time my mom was less than honest with me.

I started to see that although she spoke of love, her actions towards Grandma, Grandpa, and me didn’t reflect it. I had to try to comfort Grandma and Grandpa when they were upset. I had to be strong for them; it put me in a particularly hard place—to be there for my mom’s parents, who raised me without any type of assistance from my mom whatsoever, and to fight becoming jaded towards my mom because of her actions.

I stopped smiling as much.

Then, on top of that, I was bullied. Bullied because of my weight, because of the glasses I wore, and when I turned twelve, because of my braces. I would put up a good face because I didn’t want them to see me crumbled but when I was alone, I would cry lots of tears.

Around age eleven, I started writing.

At first, the writings weren’t anything in depth…they were elementary, but the more negative things I was going through, the more they bled upon the page. I was able to feel ten times better after they were on paper. It started from just writing every once in a while to writing all the time.

I felt like if I said anything about the bullying to the principal, it would just get worse because the bullies would be mad because I got them in trouble.

I felt bad about saying anything to my grandparents because of how volatile things were between them and my mom. You see, my mom was convinced (and I still believe to this day) that my grandparents (particularly my grandma) had turned me against her because of what my grandma had told me. So I didn’t want to add to their strife.

As much as I enjoyed writing, back then, I used it as an outlet. I rarely spoke unless I was addressed, but as far as normal conversation, I didn’t engage in it much.

After a while, the writing sessions didn’t help as much but intensified how dark my thoughts and emotions were getting. The first time they came to a head was around twelve or thirteen. I had this tremendous headache and was taking some medication for the pain, and although I didn’t take a whole lot in excess, I had a little more than I was supposed to have.

All I knew was that I didn't want to feel the continuous cloud of sadness anymore.

It was a while before I had another extreme incident, but I continued to write, and it helped me to cope.

The next extreme incident happened in 1997. I have covered what triggered it in some of my past blogs so I won’t recant it. However, it still went undiagnosed and untreated. I was treated as if I had a really bad patch of sorts and given time I would fully heal and it wouldn’t happen as much.

For a long time, I didn’t, and I started to think they were right.

Then, things went sour again in 2002, and that’s when I finally got diagnosed with depression and prescribed medication. Not much was really talked about as it pertained to therapy of any sort. There was more focus on medication—to address a chemical balance, to bring those things in alignment.

Years later, there was an emphasis in therapy.

I didn’t know where to start as far as talking about things.

Some of the therapists were more interested in putting me in a category which really bothered me. Others were listening but weren’t giving me any guidance in how to resolve some of the things that triggered my depression. There were a lot of hits and misses.

I’ve been on five different medications for depression. Some worked better than others; one actually had the adverse effect on my moods and temperament. Medication can get a bit pricey.

And so can therapy.

After a while, things got so rough financially, I ultimately had to stop both therapy and medication.

You never really know how intense the dark cloud can be until you’ve been on medication for a while and then you stop.

I am handling things the best I can. It has been a few years since I’ve been on medication. With a lot of the stuff I have gone through, at times, I feel like I could have used some.

However, the depression periods do not last nearly as long as they used to. I’m learning, through my own research and paying attention to my own behaviors, when I’m getting to that point, and what to do differently.

Some things are either hit or miss.

I learned that talking to other people helps, but I learned who I can talk to and who I can’t.

There are some people in my life I recognized can deal with me only when I’m at my optimum. So I don’t talk to those people when I’m crashing, only when I’ve reemerged.

You can’t talk to the people who make you feel even worse for being depressed.

I’m not talking about people who are trying to be positive and uplifting because that tone is what is needed; I’m talking about people that say “snap out of it”, “get a grip”, stuff like that, those that think “tough talk” will snap someone out of it. It just doesn’t work that way.

I’m learning to continue the things I enjoy, like writing and reading.

I’m revitalizing things I enjoyed but stopped, like drawing and sketching.

I’m learning new things and adopting new coping mechanisms. I am recognizing when I get to the point where I have had my fill of people.

Like certain situations I don’t have much control over, such as both of my work situations. I can put on the professional front in both of those situations, go into auto pilot mode.

When the auto pilot is shut off, and I’m dealing with the core, I have reached the point where I need a mini vacation from ignorant people.

The apex of it was the situation I dealt with at the side job—where one of the customers didn’t want me to ring up his purchases and he referred to me as a “filthy coon.” It wasn’t as much what the customer said as management’s handling of the entire situation—how much the entire thing upset me.

Not that I wasn’t justified in my anger but that it was extremely difficult for me to curb the urge to just say screw it and just walk off the job, which is highly unlike me.

Even if I am unhappy with a job, I would at least tell someone, “This isn’t working for me.” I would give notice.

In that situation I just mentioned, I didn’t feel up to even giving that. I just felt like walking off, line or no line, not caring whether I turned in the cash or not. I was just that fed up.

So I need a break; I need to start doing my Pilgrimages. Even if it’s just me being locked in my room and left alone for a few hours.

I can no longer wait until I have plenty of money, although plenty of money allows for a more elaborate adventure.

Getting back to my peace is priceless; I have to take opportunity where I can get it.


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