Everything is Deteriorating

The hardest part of depression is to find the motivation for self-care. I simply don’t care about myself, and so I don’t care about anything. And I can see it all around me.

I am definintely on a downslope. Everything around me is deteriorating. My place is a mess… my kitchen full of mold and garbage. Laundry not done. Food is low, and I’m reduced to take-out rather than grocery shopping. I took a shower today for the first time in 5 days and brush my teeth maybe once every two or three days. I don’t want to live like this, but I also don’t want anyone to see it. So I guess I’m forcing myself to write it down here to get myself out of it.

I wonder what people are thinking to themselves when they take care of the little tasks of self-care. Where do they find the self-respect and self-dignity that makes them want to get themselves presentable?

Tomorrow, I MUST get out of the house. I have not stepped out for several days now. It has to stop. Even if i don’t care, I have to do it.

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What is Happening To Me?

I feel myself slipping away again. I don’t know why or how this happened, but I’m slipping back into the depressive habits that reflect that I am not getting better. Paddy warned me that there are ups and downs, but the general forward motion should still go up. I have felt dips and valleys in my recovery, having some days I get up and “know” it’s going to be a bad, bad day for me. But this is a huge dip. I crave isolation again, crave being home, and no longer am interested in what is going on in the world. My TV has once again lie dormant for a month now.

I think I may have pushed myself too fast to start seeing people again outside of family. But I will continue and try to make it work. My first meeting with the “Lee’s” was nice. A bit of information overload with catch-up time, but they are such an understanding family. However, I drove home with tears streaming down my cheeks, and that night was a completely sleepless night. I went to bed at 11am the next day, having tried many times to get my body to rest.

I wonder, if the news of my boss resigning is anchored in this chain of events. I certainly felt more positive before he told me the news. As soon as he did tell me, I felt my whole being go numb, and my thinking disappear. I didn’t feel anything at this significant change in my life.

Oh how I wish I could understand what is happening to me. So many questions to ask Paddy at our next meeting. So afraid of friendship, and yet craving it at the same time. For the time being, my Skype friends will have to do the trick.

Lord, help me.

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The Guilty Feeling of Being Happy

I can’t seem to shake this feeling. When I’m happy, it’s almost like I have to shut it down because it’s wrong. Or if I indulge, which is what my psychologist is telling me to do, I eventually get an overwhelming sense of guilt like I shouldn’t be so self-absorbed and self-focused. I don’t know why I won’t allow myself to just be happy and enjoy.

I think I have figured out a few things in the last month. My whole approach to life is work. When I am in a team, I struggle with people who use that time to also just have fun instead of doing their task. It’s not that I get mad. I am just not that kind of person, and it amazes me that others can be so playful even while working. For me, even in my play, I am working. I can’t “play” unless it is productive play. When I watch a favorite movie and feel moved to tears, I condemn myself for being foolish. I force myself to try and enjoy things that I think are good for me, and condemn myself for liking things that are not good for me. I go out with friends and focus completely on making the encounter a pleasant one, even if it means that I have to take the punch that gets me hurt, or have to keep my comments to myself.

I do think I’m getting better. But the truth is, I’m all work and no play. And that’s the seminal problem. My whole life is about work. And without play, there’s no break, no stress relief, no self care. And when something monumentally stressful happens, like the death of my Dad, the absence of any coping mechanism in my life to deal with the sadness meant that my whole being had to fall apart. Well, at least in falling completely apart, I get to see the pieces of my insides and see why it happened.

I am learning to have fun. I’m learning to be  happy. And I’m learning that it’s okay. If I spend an hour doing something that I love just because I love it, I shouldn’t be condemning myself that my co-workers at work are working hard while I’m at home. I’m in recovery dammit and I have to remember that. I can’t condemn myself for “wasting time” because I need to set a new standard for living. Take care of yourself. Enjoy being loved and don’t turn away kindness.

I would love to know who I am. With a lifetime of doing what I’m told to do. I now have to figure out what I “want” to do. Yes, I want to express, create, and share. And I want to do it with freedom and joy. That is my prayer. That is my homework — no, that’s my home”play”.

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Beginning to See…

We are nearing the close of Mental Illness Awareness month. I suppose it is ironic that it is also the month of my birthday. For sure, there has been enough reminders in the media to cause me to consider long and hard about what it is to be a person who suffers from major depression, in fact, most of my life.

I am learning to be a student of my condition, analyzing carefully my own actions and reactions, and carefully considering the root cause in my times of sorrow and sadness. I can say for sure, that the recognition and acknowledgement of my depressive condition has given me great insight into behaviours that I did not realize existed.

The greatest revelation for me is just how hidden depression can be. I don’t look like the kind of person that would suffer from chronic depression when you first meet me. I have the ability to communicate in a confident manner. I’m well educated with a Master’s degree. I have a very successful career and have been promoted to great responsibility because of the recognition of my work. I have an incredibly wide range of talents that often surprise people who first get to know me. It just doesn’t register to anyone that I might be suffering inside. And in fact, the outward successes have kept me from seeing the depression in my own self. For this reason, I understand how someone like Rick Rypien could be so plagued by this condition despite the success he experiences in his life.

Those who know me a lot deeper can see that there’s something “off” in the way I behave, and particularly how I relate to other people.

1. Now at the age of 43 (44 tomorrow), I have never had a romantic relationship. In fact, none of the three kids in my family are married, and only one of us had a girlfriend for a short time a long, long time ago. The thought of being romantic is a wonderful idea in my head. But when the opportunity comes, I freeze and panic. And even if I am interested, I pretend that I am not out of some paralyzing fear.

2. I allow friends around me to enjoy ridiculing me, but in fact, it is often because I have many manners that are socially awkward and tend to behave oddly in public. The majority of the time, I laugh, and pretend it’s funny despite how much it hurts inside. In fact, there are many times that I laugh along with my friends, but I’m not even always sure what’s so funny.

3. I am highly obssessive in how I approach tasks. Depression causes the inability to concentrate. I thought that my troubles with concentration these days was enhanced because of this depressive state, but I realize now that it’s always been there. I’m just recognizing it now. For me, the only way to follow through on anything is to get fully obsessed about a task. And my approach is to remove all fun, and focus on the work. Served me well these many years — but at a cost. Regular burn-out is the most common symptom.

4. I have suffered with insomnia for over two decades at least now… perhaps three. Perhaps maybe more. I hate night time because I know I will fight for hours and hours to try to fall asleep. In the quiet, my mind races with emotion and anxiety, and refuses to rest. I was told once by a friend that most people who cannot sleep usually have a lot of life problems. Yes, that’s definitely me.

5. I think of death regularly. I mean, a lot, a lot. I don’t like gore or violence. I simply imagine how easy it would be if I could just die and not have to deal with the sadness and anxiety that seems to plague me on a regular basis. I don’t feel suicidal, but I always consider it as a possible solution. My common sense tends to force me out of any desire to try anything. But the thought often comes, and usually without warning.

This month, I finally was able to articulate the source of the depression in my childhood. And while I don’t feel this is the forum to spill out the details of my journey that lead to this present state, I can say that knowing it also presents me with a very precious gift — a choice to break free. Now that I know what is holding me down, I know from what I need to escape.

I ordered a book from Amazon and just received it this week – Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. It has been recommended to me on several occasions, but didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t know how that had any relation to my stunted emotional development. Recognizing it now, I have begun to read it. I made it through the first three pages before my mind constantly started drifting. I suppose that means I’ll be going really slow. So far, it looks very promising.

The focus (and my homework) these days is to intentionally feel happy. I’m trying to not force anything, and being kind to myself — whatever that means.

Thank you to those who attempt to contact me, and lift prayers for me behind the scene. I am working my way out of this hole.

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Looking for My Love

There’s a great many things I’ve learned these numerous months on leave from work. These discoveries are paving my road of recovery, and I can feel that I’m on the mend. But my greatest test is still to come — the great hurdle of overcoming my life-long pain of social anxiety. Unpacking it is a great burden, but at the same time, liberating.

I have rarely felt comfortable around people, even those who feel closest to me. I’m easily disappointed in social situations, and force myself to be interested in someone else when in reality I’m focusing so much on trying the make the encounter a pleasant one. It’s as if my whole being has been made up by what I have been told to do and be. Now it’s made up of what I imagine people are telling me to do and be. When I’m not being told, I don’t know what to do with myself. I function alone. It has always been my modi operandi for as long as I can remember. Come to think of it, it pretty much sums up how my family interacts.

I was watched Sesame Street last week, and they posed a social problem for children — where each child insisted that their game was the best and started arguing about it. And my immediate reaction was panic. I didn’t know the answer to that simple social dilemma. Another lesson came on in the next episode, kids wanting to play two different games and arguing about it. And again I paniced. I didn’t know the answer. Actually, I did have an answer, but it was a poor one — play my game alone without them. That’s pretty much sums up my answer to every social dilemma that I face. If you don’t what to do it with me, I’m on my own.

Countering it, when it’s the only life I’ve known, feels impossible most of the time. Paddy, my psychologist, told me at the end of my last session, “Do what you want to do.” It’s a phrase that mystifies me. What is that? I really don’t know. And yet, that phrase puts peace in my soul. Do what I want to do? Is that really allowed? And exactly what is that anyway? I know why he said it. It’s the right thing to do at this point of my recovery. But I only know what it means, not what it is.

I’ve discovered now for a couple of years that I sincerely have no idea what I love. After some painstaking search, playing the piano is the only answer I have so far. My true voice, and my release. And with that one discovery, I have learned discipline and decisiveness. I discovered that there are people that I do not want to associate with, and that I don’t need to be afraid to actively seek out friendships that would be life-giving.

I am on a road of recovery. I am thankful that my feet have finally found that path. I can handle a long journey, as long as I am allowed to go slow and look around. I am looking for my loves. Let’s start with a new blog “What I Love” and see where this takes me. And hopefully, eventually, I will find the courage to see a friend.

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