On depression, Anxiety and the spectre of Suicide
I wake up most mornings with a start. Feels like a million butterflies all launch themselves at once and start flying around in my stomach. And then my head starts spinning and the thinking begins. Ugh!!
I get outta bed pretty quick. If I lay there too long the thinking gets dangerous. It's like swimming around in shark infested water. This leads to an insidious paralyses. Once I get moving it's not so bad. When I say, "moving" I don't just mean walk to the coffee pot and turn it on. I need to walk, run, swim or ride my bike. Lately, I've been experimenting with Yoga. It can get my heart rate up, but these days it's really all about the cycling.
"Why I ride". Simply put, it's because I can.
In the Spanish language "can" as in "can do" is expressed as a verb. The infinitive of the verb "can" as in "can do" is "poder". It's the same word for "power".
Cycling directs all that free floating energy. Cycling and movement in general is part of my solution to the paralyses I experience.
But the real pain in the ass is the depression. Many people who don't experience it have no idea what it feels like. Here is an example: Put a large, heavy wool blanket in warm water. Leave it there, let it get good and soaked. Take it out of the water, don't wring it out, it just let some of the water run-off. Put it over your head and go to work, drive your car, eat toast, or just get up from where you're sitting. Yeah, it's like that.
Who. The. Fuck. Would. Choose. To. Live. Like. That????
Lots of people. Every day thousands of people are experiencing this. And do you know what happens after wearing that blanket for a few hours? Pain. Pain in the neck (literally), pain between the shoulders, headaches and finally, exhaustion. And if that is not bad enough, there is thinking that follows. OH, THE THINKING!!! Ever heard of KFUK Radio? That's the station. There is an evil DJ in there who spins doom and gloom. Said DJ also berates listeners for... well... listening. Eventually, the DJ says, "Go ahead... Quit. Why bother? It is never going to get better".
It took me the better part of ten years to shut that DJ down. It took another ten to change the station.
I want people to know that a high quality of life is possible. I didn't know this for a long, long time. I self-medicated myself with lots of booze and illicit drugs. Some of it was fun and it allayed the anxiety. Eventually, it stopped working and things just got worse. I tried to stop but I couldn’t. Not on my own. I’m not really sure how it happened, but it did. I chalk it up to divine intervention. I believe that a benevolent Creator of all things showed me grace and compassion. And I'm trying to pay that forward. I've been clean and sober for twenty four years. Those twenty four years have been extremely difficult at times and incredibly joy filled!
But my work didn’t stop there. Once the never ending party got old I was left with the same factors that got me into it in the first place. I worked very hard at getting my head and my heart screwed on straight. And more importantly I had a lot of help. A LOT! I don’t need to get into the “why” of it. As in, “Why am I so fucked up?” It doesn’t matter now. My good friend Annie says that “why” is just an excuse to relinquish responsibility. That’s not to say that all folks who suffer will find the same relief. I had to learn to advocate for myself. And this is a key point! When things really began to unravel, I took a risk, became vulnerable and got help. LOTS. It has taken an army of friends, family, professionals and my beloved recovery community. I love you guys! We are just one big happy, dysfunctional family.
After years of talk therapy, EMDR and lots of other adjunct therapies, I still felt like shit. We tried drugs. It’s been about seven years and they really help. Not just any drugs, specific drugs, prescribed by a doctor. They work fairly well. I can function (sort of). I still feel like I don’t really fit into the mainstream and probably never will. But I’m learning to be OK with that.
IT IS NOT A MORAL FAILING!!!
WE ARE NOT A BURDEN!
There is a myth floating around out there that sufferers are responsible for their circumstance. That they are somehow at fault and have failed in life somewhere. NOT TRUE!!! I do believe we ARE responsible for how we respond to our circumstances. Whatever they may be. Shit does happen that we have no control over. And people all over the world deal with violence, corruption and live in deplorable conditions. Neither is this their fault. But that discussion is for another time.
I can only begin to imagine what it must have been like for Kate in those final months, weeks, days and hours. Did she believe it was hopeless, that she was a burden to everyone else? How come she’s dead am I’m not? Why do people NOT seek help? It’s out there.
I’m not one to prescribe solutions for anyone else. Folks need to find their own way. This is what works for me. And anyone who wants to engage in dialogue and arguments about pharmaceuticals, I invite you to step into my world. Or better yet, soak that blanket; wear it for an hour, a week, a decade.
I don't take any day free from this misery for granted. I worked pretty damn hard to get here. And I HAD A LOT OF HELP.... I want to stress that point. "I HAD A LOT OF HELP"!
There was no way I was ever going to get out alive on my own. None of us will. Open up Facebook or a newspaper. Someone a month ago committed suicide. Someone next month will commit suicide.
We cannot be healed in isolation. I’m hoping that I can spread the love, healing and wisdom I’ve gained. A high quality of life is possible. I’m riding my bicycle because I can…
In memory of Kate (Saturday) Robinson Brown
In memory of Kate (Saturday) Robinson Brown
Thanks for reading…