This is the story of my personal journey through Depression and Anxiety. I’m writing for my own therapy as well as to maybe help others who have had or are experiencing similar issues. These are my opinions and feelings. To those of you who have sent positive thoughts, I can’t thank you enough. To read more, here are Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 – Losing a Pet.
It took me a long, long time to admit that depression is an illness. My therapist, Angela, gave me this perspective. (Which I didn’t accept at first.) If you had any other kind of illness, you might not expect as much out of yourself as you would with depression. You’d wait until you were healed. So knowing that depression is an illness somehow makes healing better. At least for me. I now look at depression as temporary. It’s not who I am, it’s not forever or a label, just an illness that gets better. Or worse.
I’ve learned the hard way that others, family and friends, won’t have the same acceptance of depression as an illness. Many times I’m told to “snap out of it” and “you’re all right” etc., etc. It gets frustrating, annoying, even. I’m trying to remember “What other people think of me is none of my business. What they think has more to do with themselves than with me.
So. Where was I before I wrote about losing Sadie? Ah yes, moving in with Penny, in her beautiful home. I truly believed this would be the answer to all of my woes. Wrong. Again.
Here’s the deal – you take yourself (Self) with you wherever you go. By that I mean you aren’t really changing anything other than outside circumstances. You might get some relief in some areas but you still have the illness as well as all of your habits of thinking. I’m not saying, ‘change your thinking and depression magically disappears.’ If only it was so easy. Changing your thoughts is no easy task, I’m learning.
Look at it this way: if you have a broken leg and can’t walk in your grandson’s duplex, you’ll still be unable to walk in a spacious beautiful home. If you have the flu in one spot . . . you get what I’m saying. You take yourself with you, until you change YOU! If you’ve lacked self-confidence when living by yourself, you’ll still struggle when you move to a new home. And having depression – for me – seems to make those thought patterns even louder in my head. Whoo boy!
There was a time when I thought I could just say positive affirmations and my habits would change. I probably even had some moderate success doing this. But I wasn’t depressed with anxiety then. If you’ve suffered with depression and/or anxiety, you know full well that it isn’t easy to think positively.
Honestly, I don’t think I even realized I was depressed in 2015. Mom died in the fall of 2014 so I was living by myself in a lovely home and, yes, struggling to make ends meet. Feeling depressed and anxious about money seemed perfectly natural to me. But there’s a difference between ‘situational depression’ and ‘clinical’ or ‘chronic’ depression. My doctor realized I was chronically depressed and started me on a mild antidepressant. Eventually it helped.
Side note: Can someone explain to me why pain meds, antibiotics, etc., work quickly but antidepressants take 4-6 weeks or longer to kick in?
Don’t get me wrong, moving in with Penny has definitely helped. She’s a wonderful companion who’s positive and determined to help me get better. Plus, she knows the line between helping and enabling. A line that often gets blurred with our friends and family. She knew how to help me focus on the present and future when I wanted to stay put in the past. She persisted in getting me into counseling, which took months! Her home is beautiful and spacious. (It has two bathrooms lol.)
But most of all, we’re best friends. We were 40 some years ago and we picked up right were we left off, giggling and laughing like teenagers a lot of the time. Nowadays. The first year was really, really bad, but Penny knew that somewhere deep inside there was a happy Coco (her nickname for me) who desperately wanted to get out.
I can’t imagine where I’d be if it weren’t for Penny, Angela and, of course, Santino’s mother who brought me back down to Sacramento in the first place.
Next time we’ll talk about therapy and the common misconception about psychiatrists. (I promise it won’t take another four months.) Believe it or not, I still have lots to say!
During this time of year, holidays in particular, many people are depressed to one degree or another. If you know someone who is depressed, please reach out to them just to let them know you’re thinking of them. If you’re depressed yourself, please, please, do the same and reach out to someone. I’m always available by email at email@example.com and welcome your thoughts.