Today is my birthday. I celebrated by getting up early this morning and going to therapy. The specialist I see is about 45 minutes from our house heading into Nashville. Depending on the amount of traffic it can take twice as long on a bad day. My gas gauge was sitting on about a quarter of a tank when I pulled out of the driveway and, running a little late, I didn’t stop to get gas. I figured it was enough to at least get me there. Then about half way through my trip on a stretch of interstate, I spied brake lights and all of a sudden I was at a full stop and stuck in traffic. That’s when the panic set in. “How long will I sit here? Will I have enough gas to make it when moving slowly or not at all?” It ended up fine and I made it to my appointment on time and put some gas in the truck before heading home.
Driving home I reflected on my therapy session and some of the issues addressed. Being my birthday I also thought about another year gone. As a person with a Major Depressive Disorder and a Severe Anxiety Disorder birthdays is a mixed bag. There is the blessing of getting through another year with the realization you have another year to get through. I am thankful for specialists and therapists, friends who encourage and understand, a family who does their best to stay beside me as I battle a disease that is incredibly difficult to understand and a wife who loves me, unconditionally and without whom I’d be lost deep in the darkest of places.
One more year on the path and enough fuel to keep going. On this birthday, I couldn’t ask for more.
Holding On –
The grass crunched underneath my feet as I opened the workshop doors to back the riding mower out. The weeds, bent over and wilted in the yard, were sparse but tall enough to need mowing. I turned on the blades and dust arose. This has been a long, hot, dry summer. What began in April and early May with plenty or rain and fast growing grass, beautiful blooms quickly retreated as the rain quit falling and the temperatures steadily climbed. The leaves are already dropping to the ground as trees can’t get enough of water to keep them healthy. There likely won’t be a colorful fall because the leaves will be dying or dead before the changing of the seasons.
I listened to someone talk today about depression. They described it as; “The want of nothing, the will to do nothing.” An apt description of my own struggle with chronic, severe depression. The speaker has dealt with this disease most of his life and accepts it may be a part of the journey until his death.
Depression’s impact is like the drought’s upon the trees. The life giving sources of joy, purpose and the will to live, is lacking. What was once beautiful and growing is now dull and lifeless. Like the trees which cannot draw enough water to it’s leaves, to give them the strength to hang on, helplessly watches them let go and blow away.
The speaker commented; “the key to holding on is to possess a sliver of hope.” It can be hope in a myriad of things but hope reminds us that it gets better. Friends, family members, work, treatment, medication, therapy, community, relationships, hobbies, prayer, all can give us hope that who we are, what we do, matters. “As long as we see hope, we see a reason to keep going.”
Come Out & Play –
Ever feel life is similar to this poor Giant Panda Bear (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_panda) staff member? You’re doing everything you can to keep your life neat and orderly, to do what you need to do, and forces beyond your control are conspiring against you to keep it from happening.
Watching this video I couldn’t help but feel sorry and empathize with the zoo keeper. I’ve been there. On good days, when my Clinical Depression and Severe Anxiety are kept at bay, I’m able to accomplish what I set my mind to do. However, on those days when my D&A decide to run wild it takes everything I’ve got to get the simplest project done or task completed.
Those days when Depression and Anxiety; “come out to play” and wreak havoc I do my best to remember tomorrow, or some day soon, they’ll stay away long enough for life to regain a semblance of order and serenity.
#EndtheStigma of #MentalHealth
I’ve never been an optimist. I’m not sure what, in my childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood happened to make me look on the dark side of things but I do. Psychiatrists say that people with depression and anxiety have different way of seeing and thinking. One of the ways we differ is expecting the worst out of most situations. This feeds anxiety which also leaves us open for a depressive episode. Black and white thinking, feeling guilty for everything that goes wrong, all or nothing thinking are other ways our minds try to make sense of the world around us.
It is difficult but learning not to automatically accept my view of reality is a lesson I am learning and trying to put into practice. Examining our way of thinking and seeing the world is also a wisdom discipline. We each have biases, paradigms, views of life that have been shaped by where, when and how we were raised and what we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. Our environments, cultures, religious preferences, and more result in a worldview which few people seldom question. We assume the way we see the world, life, is how it should be and when it fails to meet our expectations and preferences we tend to judge the people, institutions, whoever and whatever refuses to submit to our viewpoints.
No longer being prisoners to our way of thinking can be one of the hardest places to escape from but it can lead us to a freedom few will ever know.
This morning I read about a Dad who had a tattoo of his daughter’s cochlear implant imprinted upon his head. Now whether you’re a tat person or not that’s pretty cool.
I was talking with my neighbor last night about a schizophrenic man in Nashville who was killed this week by police after he tried to shoot with a gun and maim with a hatchet a group of people in a movie theater. Fortunately no one else was seriously injured.
“It’s hard to understand why a person would do such a thing!” He said to me. I knew this wasn’t the time to go into mental illness and it’s effect on individuals and families but I did tell him that often it’s the people who inflict the greatest amount of pain on others who are suffering the most themselves.
We may not comprehend the hurt and actions of others. We aren’t able to climb inside their minds and spirits to sort out motivations and intentions. However, what we can do is not judge, not dismiss, not shake our heads with condemnation and contempt.
Too often the struggles and difficulties of another separate us, especially when we can’t identify with the particular hell they’re going through. However, using our ignorance as an excuse eliminates our ability to hear their cry, help with their need, bring healing to their wounds.