bearthinking

About recovering from depression and suicide.

ARG!!!

I started this blog with high hopes.  I would recover, I would get better, a year from now (August 2009), I would be in better shape and functioning in society again.  HA!!!

Now, I just feel like a lamp that keeps blowing out the light bulbs.  We try new meds, we try new combos, I get a glimmer of light then pfffffft, burnt out bulb time.  I’ve had 20 watts, 40 watts, 40-60-100 watts, green, natural, black light, Compact fluorescents, you name it.  pffft, burn out.

If I was a lamp, we’d fix the wiring.  But I’m not a lamp, and our neuro-surgery is not that good or precise yet.  And we’re not allowed to just chuck the lamp out for spare parts, we have to keep it plugged in and turned on.  Soooo, I wonder what wattage and colour this time?  Maybe a halogen?

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May 9, 2011 Posted by | autobio, depression, recovery | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Note about Suicides

I am so sick and tired of hearing that suicide is the ultimate act of selfishness, or ingratitude, or cowardice.  Maybe that is true of some suicides; the ones who blow their brains out because they have suffered one major defeat and think the world is ending.  Maybe; heck, in a case by case examination I would probably grant the assertion’s validity.  But I argue that this is not the case in the majority of suicides and suicide attempts.

The majority of suicides and suicide attempts are carried out by people with a history of on-going severe clinical depression, Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome, Bi-Polar Disorder, schizophrenia, and paranoia, as well as other mental disorders.  The initial cause can be genetic, environmental, or both.  Over time, the disorder is a combination as the brain adjusts neurochemically to environmental stress, or the personality adapts to altered perceptions of reality brought on by neurochemical imbalances until the mind is caught between the two and unable to cope any longer.  The altered perceptions and imbalanced neurochemistry that are now the ‘baseline’ state of the mind become less and less effective at shielding the mind from the stresses of everyday life and indeed exacerbate them.

It is a catch-22 bringing on a situation strongly reminiscent of alcoholism.   Behaviours and neurochemistry intended to cope with stress become counter-productive.  To cope with the increased stress, the behaviours and neurochemical imbalance intensify; then the stress gets greater because the coping techniques are no longer as effective, so they are intensified.  A feedback occurs that lock the mind into a ‘tail-chasing’ cycle until it can no  longer take the strain of stresses.

The mind, the person, is cornered, trapped and seeking a way out of this unbearable situation, any way out that can be achieved.  This is where mental illness takes its most terrible form.  The person wants help, but perceptions are so altered that nothing promises a way out, they don’t know how to reach out anymore, nothing will work, shame is felt because they have gotten so far down this road, the situation is too much to solve, but the stress is no longer bearable and there is no way out, but the stress is worse, and there is no solution, nothing, nothing…

except…

death.

I’ve attempted suicide.  I’ve faced the moments just before the act; moments where you try to think of another way out that is not worse than death, moments trying to find another way out of the pain that has become too unbearable.  Moments recounting the course of your life, seeing if there is something that might work, that might offer hope, that might be a way out, a way through.  Then the moment before death.

Then comes another moment, one that should not be: the moment after death.  The moment you realise you failed, for whatever reason.  An sickly amusing failure, you could just die… oh, wait, no, you tried that.

What the suicide lacks is not courage, nor gratitude, nor selflessness.  What the suicide lacks is hope.  We live each day in unbearable pain, grateful for those small moments of oblivion that pain cannot reach, trying to help others like us find a way through the pain.  But hope does not ‘spring eternal’ with us.

We hopelessly hope that somehow, some way, one of us will make it out without dying.  That they can reach back and hold out a hand to help us out, so we can turn and reach out a hand.  That we can help each other out of the desert pit of suicide.

Then someone does make it out…  by dying.  Their meds failed, or therapy no longer could reach them, or worst… both failed.  It is not hope we feel but loss and even more despair, but we fight in our own ways to overcome it still.  Sometimes, though, it overwhelms us and we try to die.  We feel then that life has no options anymore aside from death.  So we face it, knowing we may not succeed even at this.

Try sometime waking up in your own vomit, or with an exploded garbage bag on your head, thinking “great, yet another thing I failed at”, knowing you have to face people again.  It is worse when you leave a note, or are discovered before completion.

Loved ones are hurt that you would try to leave to leave them behind not understanding that you weren’t trying to leave them, but trying to leave the pain you could no longer take.  Not understanding that you did not like what you were being forced to become by staying and enduring unendurable pain.  Not understanding that  you now live with the ultimate failure while still in pain.

But we go through the motions again, try new therapy and new meds, wake up each morning wondering if we will ever make it through, make it out, be able to live without constant pain again.  What many fail to understand is that we endure this for months, years, even decades.  I’m 49 and have dealt (or not) with severe, suicidal depression ever since I can remember, since at least the age of 4.

Tell you what, you try living with our problems for even half the time we do, then tell me we are cowardly, or ungrateful, or selfish.

May 8, 2011 Posted by | autobio, depression, recovery, suicide | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rant – Treatment

Ok, it has been awhile… a long while since I last posted here.  Why?  Meds.  It is that simple.

Celexa and Trazadone made me edgy, irritable, and isolating as well as messing up my sleep.  Gave me nightmares.   Pristiq made me scared, edgy, irritable, and suicidal as well as messing with my sleep and the nightmares.  Celexa and Geodon… legal LSD as far as I’m concerned, and yes, it messed with my sleep.  I isolated during these months because I was afraid of how I would behave… and had some evidence I was right.

Now, however, I’m on Celexa and Abilify.   It makes me capable of dealing with everything except the fact that I have Restless Leg Syndrome, and feel like I have ADD and mild Autism… can not concentrate for extended oh, look, a chicken.  And, again, it messes with my sleep, but at least the dreams are odd, not nightmarish.

I feel at times like I am defusing bombs.  I do things and report how it makes me feel and side effects (did I mention the nasty flatulence on the Celexa + Abilify?) that hit me.  I’m not writing these to scare you away from these meds because some do work for some people.  Also, the can work fine for awhile then lose effectiveness or produce new, bad side-effects.  Case in point, I did fine for a few years on Zoloft, then pffft, it crapped out on me when I needed it really bad.

The point is, be part of your treatment.  Watch your reactions to the meds, have others help if possible.  Make your doctor(s) respond positively to your concerns, or change doctors if need be.  I know that somehow I will get a med or combination that will work; it may take time, but it will happen.  I work with my pshrink, and we are working to get me on track neurochemically.

But meds alone won’t do the trick for long.  A problem with most mental illnesses is that while medication can help restore normal brain function, it does not change the habits of thought, the built up experiences and filters by which we gauge and respond to our environment.

I have an excellent therapist.  Here, as with the meds, what makes my therapist best for me may not make her best for you.  Again, participate in your treatment.

All certified therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists are bound to confidentiality – professional trust as it were.  But that does not cover personal trust or levels of comfort.  Choose your therapist if possible.  If not, and you are assigned one that you feel uncomfortable with, tell them out right and don’t back down.  If you can’t say whatever you wish to your therapist, you need a new one, one you can trust.

Make your treatment as effective as possible.  Take as much charge of it as you can and expand upon it.  No one knows better than you what is working and what isn’t.  Obviously sometimes you need outside input to determine that, but in the end it is your treatment, your mental health, your chance at a fulfilling life, your freedom from The Pit that is at stake.  Own it and no one can ever again take it from you.

May 6, 2011 Posted by | autobio, depression, recovery | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Things not to say…

I got this from a friend on a global support group site. I’ve had these said to me soooooo many freakin’ times. They used to annoy me, now they just make me sad for the ignorant people who think they have actually done something meaningful by saying one or more of them. They don’t realise that they may actually making things worse. Anyway, here they are…

‎Things not to say to someone who has depression:

“Snap out of it!”
Snap out of what? You think I’m sulking or something? I’m just in a rut?

“You’re just feeling sorry for yourself.”
Maybe, but if I am, it’s probably the disease making …me feel that way instead of me choosing to indulge in a pity party.

“I know just how you feel.”
Unless you’ve suffered from clinical depression – uh, no you really, really don’t. Maybe you had a glimpse of it if you had a significantly “down” mood at some point, but other than that, you really don’t know how I feel.

“You have so much to be thankful for – why are you depressed?”
Don’t you think that the depressed person has asked themselves that a thousand times?

“Try prayer.
Leaving aside the possibility that the person you’re talking to is not religious, I can assure you that anyone who is spiritual has been asking their deity for help all along, and received what comfort they can from prayer.

“Have you tried just not being depressed?”
Oh my gosh, why didn’t I think of that? I’m cured! (Groan) I mean, honestly.

“It’s a beautiful day!”
Not helping. One of the things that is the most upsetting when you’re depressed is that a beautiful sunny day can’t touch the darkness you’re feeling.

“It’s all in your mind.”
Ummm, yeah. And that helps me how?

“Everyone gets depressed sometimes.”
No, what you’re talking about isn’t depression, but a funk or a rut or a blue day. That’s like comparing the flu to pneumonia.

“Come on, just cheer up!”
Um, that’s the problem, I CAN’T. Don’t you think I want to? Do you think I actually enjoy feeling like killing myself?

Sometimes, I’d like to be around when they desperately need help, say when they are hanging on to a 200 foot cliff ledge.

“Come on, just pull yourself up!”

“It’s a nice view from there, isn’t it?”

“You have so much to be thankful for – why are you screaming?”

“Try prayer.”

“Everyone falls over a cliff at sometime.”

“Snap out of it!”

“You’re just feeling sorry for yourself.”

“I know just how you feel.”

“It’s all in your mind.”

“Have you ever tried not being pushed off a cliff?”

If depressives, especially suicidal ones, follow these pieces of “advice” it would be like the person hanging on letting go, and with the same end result. Well folks, I think I’ll talk to someone who actually knows about this and can help, thank you very much.

October 15, 2010 Posted by | depression, recovery, suicide | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Intimacy Pt. 1

This post has been edited and revised from its original form.  It seems that I was not clear that these posts, aside from where I quote, are nothing more or less than the expression of one person’s perceptions and experiences.  Also, it seems this is nothing more than an attention seeking device.  um, ok, whatever.  – andartos

A thought struck me just now. I was emailing back and forth with my sister, explaining why yesterday I did not emerge from my room. It was not the isolating with the onset of a down-spiral, but because I was very irritable and likely to react poorly to things.
Anyway, as part of it I mentioned that I missed emotional intimacy. It is all very well to talk to friends and family or a therapist or pshrink, but it is not the same as sitting, cuddling with a lover/partner/spouse and sharing.
I followed that thought, thinking about the sharing I had lost when my ex suddenly decided to divorce. It dawned on me then that I could feel the true loss starting when I began to actually get help with my depression; when I was becoming less vulnerable, less malleable. My ex seemed to like it better when I was depressed – and therefor more tractable, and was unable to handle the idea that she was not the only one with health issues.
The fact that I was now formally diagnosed as having depression seemed like it was a threat to her.  She had frequently mentioned over the years that she hated it when people, even jokingly, alluded to her being crazy.  I think my depression was a threat she was not strong enough to handle it; but I could, of course, be wrong
I know this indicates we were not truly intimate, at least in the last years of the marriage. I still miss even the illusion of intimacy, though. Knowing that there was one person who I could say anything, literally anything, to.

I do not blame her. I honestly think she did what she felt she needed to in order to protect herself psychologically and she was smart to do so. I think she no longer loved me as she had and could not remain in what she saw as a dead and potentially damaging relationship. Our spiritual vows did not include ‘for better or worse’ or ‘until death do us part’, so there was no violation of them. There was nothing more for her, and so she moved on.

I think she did the right thing. I only wish that when I had thought of it, I had done it.  A lot of grief would have been avoided for all concerned.

I think we need emotional intimacy. We need someone we can be vulnerable to, who can be vulnerable to us; someone who can be strong for us, and who we can be strong for. When I lost that, my world ceased to exist.
I am fumbling my way to getting that intimacy back. It has not been easy. I might have had it sooner, but I became afraid of my instability and so, pushed the developing relationship back into friendship. I did something unforgivable in that; I decided for her that she was not strong enough to withstand my illness. I removed the option from her, because I was afraid that she would abandon me (as I felt that my ex had done) when she would be exposed to the full extent of my depression. And worse, I used my ex as a measure for someone else.

July 8, 2010 Posted by | autobio, depression, intimacy, love, recovery, trust | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Choice of judgment.

It was a hard night, last night.  The moon was out, the stars shone bright, the heat of day gave way to a not unpleasant muggy coolness.  But I came up against the “very firmly held belief” of one I had counted as a friend.

Very firmly held beliefs are wonderful things.  They allow you to make up your mind without ever needing to deal with facts.  They allow you stop feeling, stop attempting to understand those around you, allow you to blame them when they give up and walk away.  In a sad way, it is their fault; they now have the very firmly held belief that you do not care, and are they wrong?

But there s something else very firmly held beliefs do.  They allow you to not face yourself.  They allow you to live in denial.  They allow you to ignore the consequences of your own behaviour.

I came up against it last night.  My roller-coaster ride of dealing with depression has actually been going fairly well of late.  There have been a few set-backs here and there, but over-all I have been making progress.

As part of this, I have been reaching out to people that have fallen away from my life.  In a few instances, some have reached out to me.  I have been upfront about having depression.  It is a central fact of my psychology, one that influences my perceptions and reactions.  I have said and done self-destructive things without being aware of it; I figure if my friends know this about me, they can help me before I spiral down too far to reach again.

The major part of how they help is simply by being there; knowing that I can get help when I need it.  This actually makes it easier to NOT call them at 3:47 AM because I don’t think I can make it through the night without putting a bullet through my head.

So when a friend reached out, I reached back.  Then she said her husband would like to hear from me as well.  I took me a few days to email him.   I was nervous, dealing with other issues (aftermath of ‘Sailing’ {cf.} among them), and had already sent a message via her.

Now, I’m glad I waited.  If I had read his reply earlier, it would have been much harder to dig myself out of a down-spiral I had hit.  “I think it is stupid and selfish for a person to choose to wallow in a masochistic funk that feeds on itself when all that is necessary is for that person to CHOOSE to not follow that path.”  Seems OK on the face of it.

But what about those of us who are not aware of depression or the effect it has on our thinking and perception? This is especially bad with teens whose symptoms are usually masked or explained away by changing hormones.  There are those of us who spend years not knowing why things are always bad around us.  Or why it is so hard to get out of bed, to have an interest in anything at all.

Even after we are aware of the situation, it is hard to get help – for so many reasons.  Not all of us can hang tough through it, either; hell, not even Ernest Hemingway managed it.  And for some of us, the help has to be fairly radical even after we have committed ourselves to it.

There are two main forms of Depression proper: Situational Depression, a temporary downturn as a result of things such as job loss or ‘holiday blues’; and Clinical Depression, a permanent but treatable condition.  The basis of Clinical Depression is not choice, but hard neuro-chemical fact.  For a varied combination of reasons, there is a flaw in the neuro-chemical cycles that regulate mood.  Sometimes, things go wrong in our lives and overwhelm us; for most people, that can be dealt with as the neuro-chemical cycles kick in to help keep us positive.  For others, that does not happen.

Our perceptions are that things will not get better, that we have no real positive effect on our circumstances, that there is no point in trying even.  The world sucks, and we get to have the shitty end of the stick.  There is no choice, that’s just the way it is and it can never change.  We have a ‘very firmly held belief’ in that.

Then there are those of us who really are beyond help, who are so firmly held by the grip of a vicious neuro-chemical imbalance that we cannot get out of even with radical help.  Well, they are stupid and selfish for choosing to wallow in that, aren’t they?

Given a choice we can actually see, given an opportunity to stop feeling this way – helpless, isolated, and worthless – we try to abandon our very firmly held beliefs and come out of The Pit.  I will not go back into The Pit because of his very firmly held belief, but it seems to me that he has made a choice, built his place of judgment.  As have I.

June 20, 2010 Posted by | autobio, depression, recovery, suicide | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

remembering to create: day zero

day zero

For years I lied.  Everyday, to everyone, I told a lie.  A deep, pervasive, insidious lie that tainted all my life, my hopes, my plans.  It blighted and consumed every aspect of my life.

I told one lie for seventeen and a half years.  I lived it, in spite of so much evidence that it was false.  I was married for just over 19 years; do you count the time you are separated, if not then it was almost 19 years.

I told myself that in spite of the problems we had, that it was a happy marriage.  People who did not know us well assumed it was too.  Apparently the divorce did not come as much of a surprise to people who knew us.  It seems that what came as a surprise was that I was not the one who initiated it and that we had lasted as long as we did.  This is the power of a lie.

This lie was just one of many I was living.  (I can just hear my ex now… and she is neither wrong nor right, such are people)  Some of the lies, I’m still living.  A list?  Well, here’s a partial of the more socially acceptable ones…
1) I am basically a happy person; 2) I’m a horrible writer; 3) I’m a horrible artist; 4) I have a good opinion of myself; 5) I am solely responsible for the ruin of my marriage; 6) I had a happy childhood.
I know my ex would never believe that I think #5, but it is true.  I do blame myself, completely.  I ‘know’ it to be true, and try to compensate.  I also know it is not true as nothing is ever that simple; we both lied to ourselves and each other.

These lies, these self-delusions are just part of what led to my suiciding.  Several times.  Why?

Why?  Why did, and do, I buy into them?  Part of it is neuro-chemical, part is habit, part is believing what others have told me, and, oh my, how many other factors can I list?  In the end, though, I must bear the ultimate responsibility.

I am fully aware, and have been, of my depression.  I was fully aware, on one level, of the falsity of my marriage after that first year and a half.  I know I am a talented artist and writer.  I know I have low self-esteem (see depression).  I know my childhood was not happy.  But being oblivious is so easy.

I lived in that warm, comfortable oblivion.  I let myself allow depression to take hold of me.  I did not seek help before, during, or after my suicides.  And, actually, after one suicidal ideation episode, it was my ex who encouraged me to get help.  Well, threatened me more than encouraged me, but I did get help, so that is forgivable, I think.

But (it is always there, isn’t it?), nothing like that can last long.  Reality crashed the party, put cigarette butts in the fish tank, smeared cake on the ceiling, and set fire to the couch.

See, when she told me she was divorcing me, I went into an auto-pilot mode.  I agreed to things that are going to end up damaging my life further, I made poor decisions for my future, forgot to trust my instincts, and went into a numbed emotional state.  I don’t think anybody noticed because of the worst decision I made; I isolated from my family and friends.  No-one I was around for the next year actually knew me.

I could not afford either good insurance coverage, a therapist, nor my meds.  That last did not seem to be a real problem, because long before I ran out they stopped working.  And the only therapists I would have been able to go to, well, it would have been public assistance therapists, and they are way overworked.

The house of cards started falling apart.  First the meds stopped working, then a person I thought was a friend turned out not to be with a vengeance.  I hit a creative wall at a million miles per hour and now had no expressive outlet.  I lost my job and could not get another one.  My plans for Father’s Day a year ago got nuked with no warning, no negotiation.  I stayed alone in my apartment for days on end, money was running out, my lease was ending.  I had nothing to live for anymore.

I had no desire to live of my own and it seemed to me that no-one else had any constructive use for me either.  Everything was gone.  I had nothing, not even emptiness.  Not even oblivion.

and the evening and the morning were before…

June 16, 2010 Posted by | autobio, depression, suicide | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day Seven, soon

I seem to have a couple or so people who check back at this site. I’m assuming you want the rest of “remembering to create: Day (x)”. I am working on days Seven and Zero even as we squeak. Really I am in spite (ha) of my ex’s recent “piss on you and all your works” attempt to blow my healing out of the water. I’m thinking of moving those to a separate page that would be more appropriately titled. Why? because there are more things to say then I had originally thought. it may beneficial for people to read some of the things that happen to a person who is not under treatment for depression. To read some of the things that they do. I did some things that were not so good, that I am not proud of. I am going to tell about them with both the outward, visible events/actions and the internal, subjective views; I will tell why I did what I did.

Some people would advise against this. And for understandable reasons. This culture has a messed up, an insane, attitude towards mental illness. You may want to skip the next paragraph or so, because here comes the socio-political “liberal” (if you really need a silly label) rant.

As a species, we need to grow up. Seriously, we need to get mature and get over ourselves. I have yet to know, meet, interact with a number of humans over the amount of zero who do not box people away to some degree; who do not label away individuality, who do not marginalize someone. This includes me, I know I am as guilty of this as most people. Most of us know it is wrong. And we hate it when it is done to us.

At various times and places around the world, human cultures have decided that various people were the acme and others the nadir of all that is human. In the United States of America, for the longest time there was an overt prejudice in favor of the melanistically deprived, Y-chromosome carrying, Protestant who spoke a particular language. Anyone who did not conform to this socio-physical template, or defer properly to those who did, was persecuted, and even prosecuted. It was so pervasive, so insidiously embedded in the culture that it is still attempting to undo the effects of it.

Part of virtually every culture’s acceptable social template ostracizes the mentally ill. Before the discovery of the neuro-chemical basis of mental illness and the attempts by pioneers in psychiatry and psychology to unravel the causes, this ostracism was to some extent understandable. Severe and untreated mental illness does present a risk to the sufferer, their immediate associates, and, in some cases, society at large.

But this particular ostracism is no longer needed, nor has it ever been desirable, in the majority. Comprehension of the neuro-chemical processes that form the basis of mood regulation has led to the development of a range of medications effective at treating depression, schizophrenia, paranoia, bi-polar disorders, and their kith and kin.

Medication is not a cure; I will repeat this, and beat it into the ground as it has to remembered.  It modifies the neuro-chemical cycles, but only for as long as the medication is in the body; when the dosage is discontinued or drops below a threshold, it is no longer effective.  Some medications are effecitve in some people but not others.  Also, medications can for some reasons loose effectiveness and the cycles return to the undesired state.

For seasonal or episodic depressions, this is not so much an issue.  The neuro-chemistry fluctuates away from a beneficial cycle, needs bolstering during the episode, then returns to it.  Please note, the medication does not cure the imbalance, any more than Nyquil cures a sinus infection.  The medication treats the symptoms while the body re-sets to its prior state.  Once the episode is over, the medication can be safely withdrawn.

But clinical depression is not a temporary imbalance, it is permanent.  The cycle is not functioning properly, and never will.  Proper and effective medication then becomes essential to the mental well-being of the sufferer.  Medication, however, is not enough.  It is conceivable that if caught early enough and with a proper medication regimen applied immediately, that would be all that was needed.

But life, as we all know, is not perfect.  Because it is not, because the education and compassion are lacking, depression etal., may go unrecognized or unacknowedged for years, and hence untreated. By the time it may be diagnosed and medically treated, the habits of depressive thinking are already formed.  The cause is moderated, but the symptoms remain.

This is where therapy comes in.  I know from personal experience, research, and interaction with other depressives, that therapy is essential to recovering and maintaining healthy personal and social functioning.  In some cases it is the only way we can find our way to it for the first time in our lives.

This two-fold approach to treating depression is highly effective, but only when applied diligently and as an on-going effort.  It loses its efficacy when either side is allowed to lapse.  A downspiral back into The Pit becomes virtually inevitable.  For those of us who have experienced joy again, or for the first time, this return is devastating; many of us cannot, will not, bear it again, we suicide.

This is where the most important third factor in recovery and continued mental well-being comes in.  The other people in our lives, loved ones, friends, co-workers.  The people who see us everyday, or most days.  The ones who can help us distinguish between everyday unordinary sadness, anger, excitement and the insidious creeping in of Depression and Depressive thinking.

We need these people.  We need to have those who are not looking at us for their own agenda, who want us depressed – and they do exist.  They may not realize that is what they want from us; then again, some consciously want us that way, their own compliant and dependant emotional, and sometimes physical, punching bag.  I have frequently noted that these people seem to be closet depressives themselves.  As psycho-pathologists can confirm, the most abusive people have been victims of abuse as well.

We need to make sure we have loving, personal support.  We need each other and we need those who do not suffer from clincal depression.  And society needs us.  We are artists, factory workers, lawyers, inventors, police officers, caregivers, friends, lovers, relatives, siblings, and parents.  We have valuable insights and shoulders to cry on, we have laughter, we have passion, we have righteous anger and merciful compassion, we are you and you are us, we need each other.  I don’t want you to take care of me, I want you to help me take care of myself, as I will help you.  If your hand has arthritis, you don’t cut it off, you treat the arthritis and continue with your life.

December 18, 2009 Posted by | autobio, depression, recovery, suicide | , , , | Leave a comment

The Pit

In every clincal depressive’s life there are many people who don’t ‘get it’. In fact most people don’t ‘get it’. They don’t get that clinical depression in not something you get over, that is cured. They don’t get that we don’t really like to stay in bed all day, that we don’t want to be uninterested in life, unable to be happy.

It has taken me a long time to understand that the person I adored, that I was constantly sacrificing my own ambitions and needs for, was the person who did not ‘get it’ most. This was my ex-wife, who suffering from anxiety and panic disorder had me on call 24/7/365(6 in leap years) to the point where three employers threatened to write me up for excessive personal phone time. I did it then, and would still do it (well, I would if I knew I would not get abuse), because I know what it is to be afraid.

She was, and still is, the one who denigrated every aspiration I have ever had or have. She is the one who puts me down saying that all I ever do is play the blame game and tell the poor, poor me tale. Even after I had been diagnosed with depression and started treatment for it while we were married, she kept that up. She still does it to this day.

I’m telling this now, for admittedly two reasons. One is that On 12/14/09, she felt the need to denigrate my attempts at healing, and at reaching out to others to heal. The other reason is infinitely more important and salient to this blog.

Her recent denigration has prompted me to write about those who don’t ‘get it’, who refuse to ‘get it’, and those who do but want to keep us down to bolster their own egos, the ones who are afraid of facing the reality of depression or of their own feelings of inferiority and vulnerability.

We have those people, for some of us it seems that is all we have. That those are the only people in our lives. I know of one depressive woman whose husband has cut her off from virtually every source of support she had, and who has told relatives, friends, and neighbors that the reason she does not leave the house is that she is sick, physically. The one person she turned to who ‘got it’ she is forbidden to contact. After her suicide attempt, he forced her into a group program (where I met her) but still keeps her cut off.

My ex does not know, and will probably deny, that I attempted suicide several times during our marriage. Until recently, I had blocked memory of some of those attempts. It was only a remark made in depression derived anger that prompted us to get me to a therapist, and even then, she was not part of therapy except in a negative sense. In truth, I think she was more concerned about me behaving in a manner detrimental to her career more than concerned for me that prompted her meagre support.

And this is all part of The Pit. The worst part, for me at least. To be committed to a person who not only does not ‘get it’, but uses our depression against us or who assigns our depression the role of a burden they have to carry.

And to pile on top of that, our culture places a severe stigma on depressives, especially those who have attempted suicide. This makes it even easier for the oh-so burdened people in our lives to put themselves in a martyr’s position, as my ex-wife has done.

You know what I have to say to that? Bollocks! If this supposed loved one willfully does not ‘get it’, then they are showing a lack of love, compassion, and empathy; they are showing their own weakness and refusal to face that weakness.

Please do not confuse this with an honest non-comprehension of your situation. Some people really just don’t get it, even after they have been given all the information. This is not their fault, and the two of you can find a way for them to be supportive. Having them talk to your psychiatrist or therapist may help. They may still not ‘get it’, but at least they will be able to help you, or at least not do something to hold you back.

The one thing we depressives really need from those we love is patience. Getting to a stable point, getting to the place where no longer need to hide in our beds, where we can have fun and be interested in life, where we no longer want to die takes time. Sometimes a lot of time.

It is not an overnight recovery, and – I’ll say it again and keep repeating it – there is no cure. We may relapse, or start spiralling down again. Something small, seemingly inconsequential may trigger it. It may just be that that small thing is what breaks the camel’s back and we are actually overwhelmed by a bunch of things that we seemed to be handling well. The camel keeps moving until its back is broken, friends.

Patience is something those who willfully don’t ‘get it’ lack. Because of their denial of the reality of the situation, they want us to be cured right now with a miracle cure. Many think that because we are taking our celexa, sertraline, effexor, or whatever SSRI or MAOI we are taking that we are now cured. They don’t understand why we haven’t just jumped out of bed and are doing their bidding again overnight. Patience. We want to, we really do. We want to want to take walks, to go out and eat, to visit friends, family, museums, to laugh and cry with everyone else.

But we still need time. We still need for the meds to take affect, to make sure they are the right meds. We need to talk to our therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. We need to look at how we think, the downward cyclic habits of thought that our neuro-chemical imbalance have induced and how to break out of those patterns. Sometimes we need to identify the negative influences on us and find ways of turning them positive; failing that we need to know how to neutralize them.
So I end this portion of the blog with some heartfelt gratitude. I want to sincerely thank my ex-wife for divorcing me, finally. I am grateful that one of us was able to own up to our marriage being a grave mistake. I am, in a sense, grateful that she has seen fit to try and keep re-opening old wounds since the divorce. And I would be “forever” grateful for her to stay divorced from me and my life, if only she can find the strength to do so. Goodbye to someone who does not ‘get it’.

December 16, 2009 Posted by | autobio, depression, recovery, suicide | , , | Leave a comment

thoughts, not a day

Today marks a new phase for me on writing this blog, this test draft. I received feedback from someone who has been touched by the effects of suicide. It was very validating feedback even though the events were mixed. One completed suicide, one mercifully uncompleted.
Please note, there are no successful or unsuccessful suicides, only dead people and survivors. There are the people who kill themselves There are the people who do not, for whatever reason, complete the act of killing themselves and end up having to live with that. There are the people who have to live with loss or near loss of a loved one.
If you read the rest of this blog, this draft, you will find that I consider myself to be in all three categories. I have lost people dear to me to suicide, I have survived a number of suicide attempts, and in some senses I have actually killed myself. At some point, I may talk about that last further.
I am not expecting anything from life anymore except to have opportunities. To have the chance to do what I must, need, and desire to do. As an artist the opportunity that means the most to me is to touch another life, soul, person. I am hoping, as it did with the feedback that prompted this posting, that my efforts will be beneficial in some way. That I will leave the world at least a little better for my efforts.
These posts bare my soul, my thoughts, my vulnerabilities, my strengths. I am a phoenix now, re-birthing my self from the ashes of a dead life. I have clinical depression, and always will. I am always on guard, vigilant that depression does not consume me again. But I am still the phoenix.
My days are not always good. My days are not always bad. I have stretches when things go well emotionally, and I have stretches when just getting out of bed seems not worth the effort. I have a woman I am building a relationship with; she is fully aware of my situation, as I am of hers. Her situation is not for airing here though.

December 14, 2009 Posted by | autobio, depression, recovery, suicide | , , , | Leave a comment