Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Dark Side - part 2





This second segment is going to be short (I hope) because going on and on about depression can be...well, depressing. The picture I chose above has personal significance. When in a depressive episode, the filter with which I view the world has only shades of black and white. The red of the flower signifies the world/the environment; the girl...me.

I've made several attempts to describe how depression feels. Years ago I used to see myself floating down in a very dark pool, the edge nowhere in sight. Down, down, down. Sometimes it took days, sometimes weeks to reach the bottom. After finally getting there, I could feel the cloak of heaviness begin to lift and I could slowly start the trek back.


Think of jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool and making your way down to the bottom, but in slow motion. Once your feet touch, you're ready to push up, back to the top of the water. Also, picture this happening in slo-mo. I won't ask you to imagine yourself in a totally dark pool with no lights and absolutely no idea where the bottom is because that would be just dang...creepy.


I've also seen depression as a black hole, a vortex of sorts that pulls me into a place where my thoughts and actions become paralyzed. My smile is nowhere to be found...I call this my "I hate" mood. I hate the time it takes to turn on the TV. I have commercials. I hate the sunlight. I wish it would rain. I hate the thought of having to get out of bed. I hate seeing people (there is a distorted envy that convinces me everyone/everything in the world is in order and just fine...except me). I feel I'm on the outside looking in. This is a good example of the irrational thinking of depression I mentioned in part 1.


Almost a year ago, coincidentally peaking around the time of the Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention, I used the voice memo on my phone to try to express how I felt on my drive out to The Woodlands. Trapped. Trapped inside a bubble. No one could get in and I couldn't get out. The air in the bubble seemed to be seeping out somehow, the life and air being sucked from my body. Looking back now, I can joke and say I might have ended up as a shrink-wrapped old lady. The thought today is funny. A year ago...agony. Lucky for me I'd had the training as a counselor, knew the signs, and recognized I was in trouble.

Back in August after Robin Williams' untimely death, Cathy Chester, blogger for the Huffington Post and creator of An Empowered Spirit, said the following about her own depression.

"There are days of horrible, unreasonable thoughts, and times when you believe your life is not worth it. The world has a dark filter on it, and everything seems difficult. It's pure hell.

Listening to reporters talk about Robin Williams for the last few days, asking ridiculous questions such as why didn't he just snap out of it, is why we need more education and awareness about depression in our country. If you've never walked in the shoes of depression you have no idea what it feels like. Robin Williams had severe depression, and only his family and close friends know what he endured. Who are we to guess?"


Now that I've painted this sordid-scum-sucking-depressing-as-hell post...let me end by saying the following: there can be light brought to this serious matter. Drop the stigma around reaching out for help with mental issues. Personally, I believe everyone should have an annual mental checkup. Why not? We certainly do for our body. Why not our mind and emotions?
 
I ran across this phrase yesterday morning. Her words may not work in times of darkest depression, but it may be worth posting around somewhere as a reminder...

"Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another's pain, life is not in vain." - Helen Keller

Guess my post wasn't as short as I thought...

1-800-273-8255 - National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
http://www.nami.org/ - National Alliance on Mental Illness