A few weeks ago I was battling another bout of depression where I had been contemplating suicide. I really saw no reason to come back this time and I see now part of me was hoping to find a way to live in that shadowy space with no hope so that I could spare myself the pain of disappointment.
However, essentially for the sake of two friends, I yet again made a decision to come back from that place.
For me this was a difficult decisions because I knew it meant at least two things.
First, it meant facing and working through a lot of present (and undoubtedly future) frustration, pain, failure, discouragement, disappointment, hopelessness, guilt and shame.
Second, it meant attempting to integrate all of my life experiences into a coherent framework that does not reek of false hopes and denial. While I do not expect such a framework to be perfect or never change, I do need something to provide some meaning and stability to my life.
This decision was made on a Saturday and as soon as Monday rolled around I was faced with a more basic and pressing question.
However I wrestled with the challenges I faced and however I attempted to make sense of life, I knew that sitting in my room alone ruminating on everything would not be helpful. I do not like wasting time so that day I set up a plan that I have been following since then.
Every morning I have been applying for any jobs I am reasonably qualified for. I have been pursuing any leads I can find through contacts and have been setting up fall-backs in Hawaii and Washington should I fail to find work in the area that can pay my bills by September.
After that I head to the gym. I essentially stop eating when I am depressed and I had lost a lot of weight, mostly in my upper body. While I am not trying to be Mr. Universe, I also do not like looking and feeling like Skeletor, so I figured it was time to eat and get back to the gym. I also know that moderate exercise is good for people struggling with depression and at the very least it would get me out of the apartment and around other human beings for a while. So I took an hour, set up a workout routine, and have been going to the gym four days a week.
In the afternoons and evenings I have been writing. Sometimes I see no purpose in it. I fear writing and posting my thoughts changes nothing and only serves to open up my thoughts and belief to external critique. However, my self-imposed goal is one worthwhile post or article a week. At the very least this forces me to write, an activity in which I lose track of time and experience what currently passes for happiness.
I have also continued counseling. While things are not good, they have been getting better. This is usually the time where I feel it is okay to stop seeking help because things are looking up. I now better know.
I also started antidepressants. I did promise friends to get on them and I followed up with doctors about them. I see now that I avoided them for so long not because of some moral stance but because I did not want to admit I am someone who struggles with depression. I absolutely hate this about myself. I am aware that I cannot handle frustration and disappointment like other people do. I am aware that I sometimes I cannot be happy, even though I have many amazing things in my life. I am aware that when I go into a bout of depression I often am self-destructive and am my own worst enemy. I do not expect the antidepressants to heal me or give meaning to my life, but I do hope they help.
I have joined Co-dependents Anonymous. I have realized co-dependency is a much bigger issue for me than anything else. So I now attend weekly meetings to be around people who I can actually identify with. This is also the only place that I have been comfortable connecting with my Higher Power. I’ll probably drop by Pihop eventually and see how that goes, but anything else seems like an incredible stretch.
In short, this is essentially a plan of mental, spiritual and physical self-care. Sometimes I stick to it for no other reason than the fact that I made a decision to come back and this is the best I know how. At times, when tempted to slip back into apathy or despair, I literally tell myself “It’s a good plan. Stick to the plan” and go do my next scheduled activity.
While there has been no magical redemption of all the crap that I have had to deal with and continue to wade through, right now this is my life, and I’m showing up for it.