Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What's With All This Depression.

Who are all these voices telling me how I should be? Telling me that being "happy" in my unalienable right. That depression can be cured. That meds, or therapy, or a solid 12 step program could, individually or combined, alleviate this heaviness that I am "burdened" with. This is a difficult area to explore, for there are many opinions about depression, many that want to offer advice, many that don't want to see others suffering.  There is lots of spin because there are profits to be made. In reality, it is a life and death issue, nonchalant advice is dangerous. I write this so I can gain clarity, to review the path I am following at this time.

So, for me, I have chosen to simply  live with depression. After, last year, coming to the point where I had unpacked my suicide plan, fantasying about it each day to help me make it though the day, I needed to change something. And what I chose was not to consider it a problem that needs to solved. Not hoping that the demon of depression is exorcized.

I took some idea's I had read and brought them to the councilor who was instrumental in my recovery.  I shared with him these ideas. In 'Care of the Soul' Thomas Moore asks the question, "What if 'depression' were simply a state of being, neither good nor bad, something the soul does in its own good time and for its own good reasons?" He then goes on to state, "we might see melancholy more as a valid way of being rather than as a problem that needs to be eradicated."  James Hillman, from "A Blue Fire," writes:

"It's only that you needn't take all those moods and all those weaknesses and helplessnesses and so on as literal. One thing you do learn in therapy is how, when you have a depression, it belongs to you but you don't identify with the mood. You live your life in the depression. You work with the depression. It doesn't completely stop you. Depression is worst when we try to climb out of it, get on top of it."

I have been hoping to be free of depression for the past forty years. Alcohol was my first pitch at being free, then pot, religion, confronting relatives, work, exercise, schooling, running, porn, internet chat, and finally returning to alcohol. I could do nothing in moderation, trying anything that would relieve the darkness, the sadness. I wanted to be anything but me. After all, it is my right! That hope that I would be depression free, happy and fearless, was slowly killing me.

And I came into recovery, was shown the tools of A.A. and the 12 Steps. Discovered the important of recovery, of unity, and of service. Of letting others into my life, of keeping no secrets. When I shared with my home group that I was fixating on my suicide plan, the plan lost it's power. Honesty, opening and willingness. To keep going forward, one step at a time. And when I fall, to get up and return to the journey. And when I finally came to the point where I was willing to accept my depression as it was, there was a turning point.  Not a freedom from the sadness but a discovery about what it had to offer and teach.

More from James Hillman:

Yet through depression we enter depths and in depth find soul. Depression is essential to the tragic sense of life. It moistens the dry soul, and dries the wet. It brings refuge, limitation, focus, gravity, weight, and humble powerlessness. It reminds of death. The true revolution begins in the individual who can be true to his or her depression. Neither jerking oneself out of it, caught in cycles of hope and despair, nor suffering through it till it turns, nor theologizing it -- but discovering the consciousness and depths it wants. So begins the revolution on behalf of soul.

So I chase my shadow, the Jungian archetype shadow that is. I explore this shadow through the resentments I feel towards others, through looking at my fears, by writing poetry that explores my beginnings, by meeting with my councilor, by continuing to work the steps, by dreaming, imagining and more poems. By opening myself up to deeply buried feelings. By being patient.

And just like in early recovery, the process is the same.  A breaking down of old foundational beliefs and a reconstruction of those beliefs into a new structure. A structure I cannot foresee, a process I have to trust. Just for today.

Nietzsche is quoted as saying "Be careful, lest in casing out your demon you exorcise the best thing in you."  Hmmmm, self acceptance?


Paul Mc said...

***short rant will have to do for now*** I wish you well! It's not an easy life path and I've seen many people give up and do great harm to themselves and others - Never give up on what might happen if you dont give up! OK well, my drug (history of experimental polysubstance use/abuse from age 11 yrs on; drug of choice was MORE) free recovery story of 24 yrs so far goes something like this ~ drug (mostly meth during my graduate school while wife was working on Medical degree - been married 3 times now - 2 in #xa)induced schiz breakdown, followed by anxiety disorders and OCD followed by cyclical mood disorder and then over the last 3-4 yrs pretty much baseline "normal" healthy neurotic? Always feel like I'm moving becoming! never have felt stagnate or stuck - so just figured my neural spiritual physical bodies were in transition from chemical insanity to healthier- never planned on sanity! Just keep riding waves of change and trying to optimize my health without getting crazy about it ~ no pun intended! Maintenance supports today: daily meditation guided or breathing, naps and plenty of rest 8+ sleep hours if possible, irregular gym attendance BUT light weights/elliptical cardio 120-150 minutes weekly at best, 2 meetings with other ppl per week at least one of which is #xa. vitamins (multi, b-complex) 5htp at night, L-tyrosine and thyroid support in morning, plus resveratrol saw palmetto etc. Only tried prescription meds for 2 daze in year 5.
Fondly remember so many books and guides... (Search for Serenity Lewis F. Presnal) that were right on time at the time! Each plateau or layer always seemed like it was IT and then would fall apart AND I would have to revamp my prog and life to adjust to the new conditions - IT HAS NEVER BEEN BORING! I have no idea what to tell you that might help you! except that I respect and applaud all who tread this road with us.... and that I have absolutely no regrets today - it all has proven to be grist for the mill and I'm a better person for it. Look forward to more tweets and shares as the adventure continues - be honest, brave, open minded, willing JFT ;->

Annette said...

So glad to hear from you and this post is excellent. Accepting ourselves as we are....learning to live in our "normal."
I recently read a book by Elyn Sachs called The Center Cannot Hold. It's about her creating a life in the midst of her schizophrenia. It was a great book and spoke to what you are speaking of here.
Thanks for sharing this....if its ok, I'm linking to it from my blog. Good to hear from you.

indistinct said...

Thanks, Paul, for sharing a bit of your story. I agree with you, the people who share this road with us deserve respect and applause. There is never a free ride when it comes to our recovery.

I have gratitude and amazement for all the right people and the right literature that God brings into my life at just the right time. Otherwise, I would not have made it.

What would help me? For me to keep on being responsible for my own well being, not making others responsible but of being of use to others.

I appreciate running into you in the twitterverse. You were part of the inspiration for the post. Thank you. Just keep on trudging! :)

indistinct said...

Thanks, Annette, for dropping by. Glad to see your still busy blogging, helping others, growing and changing. So cool.

Sounds like an interesting book. I'll look it up. Being linked to your blog is an honour, thank you.

Kelly said...

I like the last quote you shared. I often wonder if fighting against my depression is giving my soul the feeling that I am fighting against myself. And, if so, that cannot be good.

Syd said...

I had not thought of depression as being something that one could just live with for years. I saw my mother suffer terribly and lose interest in life to the point that she didn't even know who I was. She was diagnosed with clinical depression and the only thing that brought her around was ECT. Perhaps there are depressive states in which people can still function. But for her, she was not functioning at all. It was a terrible thing.
It sounds as if you have a good approach to keep going and to accept what is part of your life.

indistinct said...

Hi Kelly,

I don't walk this path alone. Always checking in with others, such as my wife, my sponsor, my councilor, friends. (my brain sometimes takes me astray!)We need not walk alone.

I agree with you in that I was and am fighting with myself. Acceptance of me, just as I am, hard thing for me to do. :)

indistinct said...

Hi Syd,

You shared a difficult story about your mother. Thank you.

The label "depression" covers a lot of ground. It seems to be different for many people. Some have much more difficult times (as your mother did) than others. There is no one right answer for this.

As for me, it's the path I am on. Seems good, so far. Yet, I need always be opened minded. Who knows what the future will bring.

Mary LA said...

I'm sorry to hear about the ongoing depression Henk -- I have found Thomas Moore's work to be insightful.

Kali said...

I have dealt with depression since I can remember, since before I was even ten years old. I suppose it was brought on by the dysfunctional family I was growing up in... well, it followed me into my adult years and I, too, tried drugs to numb the pain and they did, for awhile. But it was always temporary. Not til I accepted God's love was I truly able to become free.... now, I'm free of drugs AND depression for the first time in twenty years.... you can be free too! I will pray for you!

indistinct said...

Thank you, Kali, for the prayers, always appreciated.

Maybe depression is not something that we need to be free of. Perhaps it's something I can accept and adapt to. And in doing so it looses it's power over us. It is a long term process and so far, so good!

I have a ton of gratitude for the changes in my life. The twelve steps of A.A. have given me my life back. The members of A.A. have taught me how to love and pray.

I try to "let go and let God" each and every day.

Birdie said...

This post brought tears to my eyes. I am sitting here depressed. The most I have ever been in my entire life. I had a suicide attempt in December. I just don't feel better despite doing the million things people have told me to do. The only time I feel any lightness is in Al Anon meetings. If only I could just have meetings 3 to 4 times a day I think I might make it. When I am at a meeting everything makes sense and I accept all the things I cannot change but after I walk out the door, depression comes over me like a wave. It holds me under and I can't breathe from the weight of it.
I so want to believe your words. I do. But I just don't see how any good is ever going to come of this. My kids are deeply affected by all this. I don't want to be this mom. I hate her. She is failing her children.
Anyway, I am rambling. Thanks for your words. I will think on them.

indistinct said...

Thank you, Birdie, for sharing your thoughts and emotions with us.

I'm with you, I don't know what good is going to come out of this journey either. But for today, and just for today, I am well enough to live on and face the painful episodes and the joyful experiences that life brings my way.

I have connected with same amazing people in my life and have had some unexpected experiences. Some that hurt, some the revealed depth.

I could not walk this journey alone. I continue to see a councilor,running my experiences by him, exploring my shadows. I also find that I am much more creative when I remain open to the depth of life.

Am I any happier? Not much. But the depression is no longer front and center, it's off to the side a bit, and I am becoming comfortable with it. Hard to explain.

Please don't walk alone. Stay connected with people who care. Stay close and find your path through the brambles we trudge through.