Monday, April 27, 2015

How to overcome depression

Like I know all the answers.

Like I haven't been down that road and back a million times.

Maybe while I'm in the throes of another episode of depression is not the best time to write about depression. On the other hand, it could help, so I try. I keep writing this blog and talking about the same things over and over.

I overshare like it's my job, according to some. It's never been in me to do anything differently. Once you get me going, I will tell you just about anything.

The most important thing I've come to understand about living with depression over the past 13 or so years is


Depression is an illness. It would like you to think that you are worthless, that you should give up, that no one loves you. Depression is lying to you so it can thrive. Don't let it thrive. Don't stop fighting. Don't stop telling people how you are feeling. You may think that you are being annoying and hell, maybe you are, but you're more important than that.

Your life is more important than any minor inconvenience you may cause.

Talk to doctors. Talk to strangers. Talk to friends or anyone you maybe thought loved you, even if depression is telling you that right now, nobody does. It's lying, take the risk and tell them anyway.

You are always worth fighting for.

I put a lot of value on the life of every individual. I am not a supporter of the death penalty for any crime. I do believe that those with terminal illness have the right to die with dignity, but depression is not a terminal illness. It doesn't have to be.

Mental illness is devious and deceptive. Anxiety will let you think that someone holds a grudge for some tiny mistake you make seven years ago. It may lead you to stop talking to people out of irrational fear that something has gone wrong in your relationship. Depression will keep you from pretty much doing anything and it's so, so hard to get moving again. Add in suicidal thoughts and it gets bad really quickly.

On the worst days, which are thankfully not that often anymore, I think about the people I'd leave behind. I think about how sad they would be, how I would not wish how depression makes me feel on anyone else. I can't take the risk that I'd leave anyone else to that fate due to my abrupt absence.

I choose to stay and fight and sometimes it's the hardest choice I've ever made.

(Sidenote: I'm not that bad right now, please don't worry, I just felt motivated to write.)

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

I did a difficult thing this evening and threw out what may have been over ten years of handwritten journals.

Since I discovered The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (affiliate link), I have been undertaking a project of decluttering my life from unneeded or unwanted items. Some of this has been clothing, such as things that don't fit, will never fit again, or I wasn't wearing because I really didn't like it or who knows why. Some of it was books. Actually, a lot of it was books. Most were my husbands, but we have about 130 ready in boxes, waiting to be donated. I tidied up my jewelry, getting rid of pieces that I stopped wearing a long time ago. The basic principal of the method is: keep what sparks joy. Unless the object doesn't "spark joy", but is functional to you, then you find joy in its purpose. You may not love your blender, but you can't afford a new one and it's damn helpful in the mornings.

I've mostly finished with my belongings at the new apartment. It was difficult to go by category, according to the method, because so much of my life was in boxes and bags. I ended up addressing things as I came across them and as I found homes for everything. We're still figuring out storage options and could really use some shelving. I decided to move on to a completely different category of "things I left at my parents house when I moved out several years ago". That was for my first apartment with Hulky.

A couple of weeks ago, I dragged some boxes out of the attic eaves and discovered schoolwork from middle school through college. Straight to the trash! I found a lot of knick-knacks that I had cherished during those times, but didn't hold much memory for me now. Only sentiment, and to be honest, I'm finding that somewhat detrimental for my well-being. I can't keep living my life dragging around memories that I don't need. So I threw a lot out and recycled what I could. Most of it was easy to part with.

This week's task was peeking into my old bedroom's closet, now my brother's closet. On the top shelf, I'd left several shoeboxes full of journals, shown above, and notes from high school friends. I also found two tutus, a pair of tap shoes, and the 35mm analog camera I used in my college photography courses. The camera stayed, but everything else went out. Yes, even the tap shoes. I am making a lot of swift decisions in this process, like weighing the effort of trying to sell something over the ease of simply throwing it in the trash barrel.

The journals were not so easy for me. I was tempted to read them, but I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would never re-read my journals. I peeked at the dates on the first page of a few of them. I know that the black ones with the spiral spines were from middle school. I know that there are many memories recorded in those books, things that I have mostly forgotten, and I know that it's time to leave them behind.

Picking them up to throw them away, I nearly cried. I'm not sure if I can really articulate why this was such a difficult and necessary task for me. I have let my past and my depression hold me back for a very long time and most of those journals were a symbol of that. Many of those journals hold the record of my darkest times. I need them to be gone so I can know it's okay to move on. Depression may still be a struggle for me, but I am not the same person I was ten years ago, or eight years ago, or six years ago.

Here's to the future.