I have depression.
And no, it didn't start when my mom got sick. And no, it didn't start when cancer took her from me. I don't know when I first realized I had something foreign in my head that I didn't have total control over. My guess is that I was in high school when I became aware. I did not like high school. It was not fun. (sort of ironic I'm going to the all-class 50th reunion next weekend) I wasn't bullied or ostracized, but I didn't have the best of times and never felt comfortable. Besides the typical teenage angst, I woke up spiritually. I started questioning the church and religion I was born and raised in. This made life extra confusing. But that's another post I may or may not get to in this series (it can always end up being a single chapter series).
It has finally dawned on me that for the past two years my depression has gotten worse. From high school to two years ago (even during my mothers journey to death) I was always able to take control of that thing in my head and beat it down. Punch it in the gut. And climb out of the hole it would put me in. I developed over time, techniques to cope. Some times it was getting outside and soaking up vitamin D in the form of sunlight and nature. Music- listening to, playing, and creating. Writing. Being social- spending time with friends or playing sports.
That all changed two years ago. I, of coarse didn't realize what was happening while it was slowly taking over control of my mind. It has a way of being sneaky. A few things have happened that jolted me into waking up, but I wasn't able to climb out of the hole this time. It was too deep. Chester's death by suicide was one of those times where I woke up and said, "shit, I'm really in a dark place. I need to get out of this". And for a bit I thought I got out. I thought I escaped and took control back. And maybe I did succeed in climbing out. But that hand reached out and caught my ankle and pulled me back down. That bastard. And without fully realizing it, I was back down in that hole in my mind and not in control. My thoughts were dark.
*now listen. I will preface what I write next with this. I am not suicidal. I will not take my own life. This is not a cry for help*
My thoughts were dark. I thought about suicide. How would I do it if I chose to finally end the war. Would I drive off the road? Would I take the entire bottle of pills and just go to sleep... forever? These questions would also lead to other questions about religion, faith, and the questions about an afterlife. Again thoughts on that will hopefully come in another post in this fictional series. I would spend my days sleeping and the nights awake. I gained 30 pounds. I stopped running. I slowly stopped hiking. I started eating crap. Drank soda again. I became anti-social. I would hole up in my room for days on end. Couldn't even shower. Working was difficult. I'm writing this like it is in the past, but I'm still in the hole, not in control. But I am aware. I'm awake. I'm woke.
Two things changed two years ago. 1: I quit my job at the coffee house and went to work at my current employer *full time. This is important in that one of those key coping mechanisms that would help me take control was gone. Socializing. I hate socializing. I'm an introvert that thrives on quiet alone time. The friends I choose are few, but they know. The coffee house job forced me to communicate with the outside world. I love my current job and my co-workers and friends are precious to me. They are a life blood. But I work from home. Alone. I don't have to put on adult clothes, get in my car, and go into an office. I work alone. No outside world stimuli. 2: Because I quit my coffee house job, I lost my medical insurance which meant I no longer took birth control pills. An interesting side effect of the pill (depending on the person and the type of pill) is that it can either cause depression or it can act as an anti-depressant. For me, it acted as an anti-depressant. So unbeknownst to me, I was medicated for 15 years! And two years ago, I went off my meds.
Thank the trees I live in California and make enough money to qualify for the ACA, I have medical insurance again. I'm seeing my doctor this week. Specifically for this. I'm woke and aware but I need help. I can't climb out of this hole on my own. Perhaps I never could, I just thought I could.
Depression is someone that never dies. It adapts. It builds immunity's. It runs around in an infinite loop. It can take control of my mind. I've had this writers block or not wanting to take the time to write any of the things in my head. So it was preventing another of my outlets or coping mechanisms.
I'm dealing. I go for walks 3-4 times a week. I take showers (perhaps not frequently enough, but again, I don't have to go out in public much). I get my work done. I meet my deadlines. I see friends when I need to. I get out in nature when I need to. There's light when I look out of my hole. I can feel the breeze on my face. I will be okay. Know that I will be okay. Yes, I have depression. And it and I live together. We battle for control. It may have won the current battle, but for me life is a war. And I'm not done yet. I'm not done fighting. I'm just needing some new weapons.
I got out today. I listened to the quiet one. Not the loud one that tells me bad things. Just listen...