Sunday, October 18, 2015

One Way. Or Another...

I tend to re-read my own blogs in the day or two after I write them, as people send me comments, and I have to admit, last week's I kept wincing at the last couple sentences.  Because I sound flippant, like ALL you need to CURE depression is a pill and a plan.  I should have spent a little more time on the ending before I clicked 'submit'.

Yes. Sometimes, when I have a difficult week, and the Prozac isn't enough, having something to look forward to is what makes the difference between living life and giving in to symptoms.  But I do realize there are dozens of levels of depression.  I know many people try five or six meds without any of them making a dent.  I know some people kill themselves, and some people think crying at sad commercials is depression. My goal was to share about my own experience, so that I can contribute to it being less of a taboo subject in general.  The more people talk and share their own experiences, the less square-peg-in-a-round-hole I feel, and hopefully you feel.  Admitting my imperfections, failings, human-ness is not so much scary, or bad at all, but stabilizing.  

I don't know the cause or cure for depression, just coping mechanisms I've learned.  But I do know a huge contributing factor in my case, is my brain not shutting up for one second.  You must all be like this right? Where one minute you are writing a swim team event on the calendar and then suddenly ten minutes has passed and you realize your blood pressure is high because your brain went from swim meet to coach to lack of communication, to that time last fall when you volunteered and no one showed up, to those other parents....  You get the idea.  My brain left to its own resources heads down a darker, more prickly corridor than it needs to.  I imagine some people just write 'Swim Meet 5:00 pm home' and then they move on to the next thing they need to do.  Do they?  Well I'd like to try going 24 hours without letting my brain take the reins.  Every single time I look at the pile of mail, I don't start thinking of insurance bills, and then taxes and then my checking account balance and then...  When I see a pile of dirty dishes I don't think 'Should have, could have, why didn't I?'  but just 'Dirty dishes, let me wash them.'  I can't imagine being successful at this for even an hour.  Also part of me thinks, well this is my creative mind at work.  If I stop being creative will I still be a writer?  If I stop being creative will I turn into a boring robot? 

Things at work are at a stress level of 9 out of 10 right now, and yet someone told me this week 'Yes, but you are always happy.' and it caught me off-guard.  That is how I appear?  I was surprised.  It reminded me of more than once taking one of those surveys that says 'If you have five or more of these symptoms of depression, seek medical help.'  And I would have 17 of 20.  Yet my co-workers think I'm happy. All the time.

Which leads me to the conclusion that happiness and depression are not mutually exclusive in the same person, or for me, even in the same day.  Or another conclusion might be that I'm good at acting happy even when I don't feel it.  Certainly you hear many comedians are depressed in real life, and I do spend an unusual amount of time trying to make people (and myself) laugh. 

But then, my supersonic brain can be a pleasure. Sometimes I look back at my 20s and think 'Oh I wish I could live that over again.' but mostly I appreciate the perspective another 30 years gives a person.  It is clich├ęd but true to say my life is much richer now.  I try to look at things and really see them.  In my 20s I was distracted by having enough quarters to do the 7 loads of laundry I had, how to get the cat to the vet, or being late to catch the train.  I rushed from one thing to another, never fast enough, always wanting more, more of everything.  Now I can sit and marvel at the sunlight hitting our leaded glass window, making rainbows on the old carpet.  I can sit at the high school and instead of wishing she would hurry up and get out here so I can _____, I'm thinking 'take your time, the radio is on, the window is down so I'm breathing fresh air, I can sit and think for a while.'  When I look at a child, I see her pigtails, and her mis-matched socks, and the marker on her hand.  I don't just look at them, I see them, and I think about what she was doing earlier, and wonder if she likes getting her hair put into pigtails, or if she cries. 

These two ideas, are at cross purposes.  On the one hand my loose-cannon thinking contributes towards my depression, but on the other hand my color-palette thinking makes life so much more flavorful, interesting, more of an adventure in the every day.  Over-thinking is like a thorn in your shoe, it never feels good, but not thinking at all?  That is like never going outside, so you don't need shoes.  I'm not willing to sacrifice that much.  I guess my experiment should not be to spend 24 hours not thinking, but to spend 24 hours asking myself every five minutes 'dark path or light path' and trying to go back and take the other fork in my road of thoughts.  Maybe there's a Fitbit for that?

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