Depression is Not a Choice

This idiot.  This Egotistical Moronic Attention Whore wrote a whole pop psychology thread about how – depressed people just need to be happy and change.  Just do it.

Mr. I don’t have a degree in any field related to this but I kick box and have a large following so I MUST KNOW  SOMETHING, RIGHT?

You know what?  It’s not just him.  Tumblr had a whole month where they put non professionals into their Q & A to answer questions about mental health.

Because our culture views mental health as a thing anyone can advise anyone on.

Do you know why I don’t talk about my ongoing nightmare of mental illness in real life?  Because of this shit.  Because my illness would then be subject to everyone’s foolish and uneducated thoughts.  I would be branded as just too lazy to change.  Enjoying my sadness.  And just to blame for all of the nightmare that has been happening in my life for 10 years.

And you know what?  I DON’T NEED THAT SHIT.

And fuckwit up there, with his kickboxing degree is telling me that it’s all just fake.  That my life’s nightmare is all a big self inflicted hoax.

FUCK HIM.

He will go though life feeling like he is MR. FUCKING INSPIRATION. When in fact he is a like a hideous cancer of insidious doubt and self hatred inflicted on people with depression.

Do you know why he did this?  FOR ATTENTION.  LOOK AT ME.  GIVE ME HEARTS AND RETWEETS.  LOOK AT ME.  He is an attention whore entirely oblivious to the attack he just launched inside minds of thousands of humans.

DEPRESSION IS NOT AN ILLNESS ABOUT SITUATION.  It’s a mental state that continues no matter how fucking good things are. The best that can be said is that you manage better in different situations.

But believe me, for no particular reasons, I will feel better one day than another.  I will plunge into an abyss for no particular reason.  No doubt my life can aggravate it, like a germ will infect a wound.  But the germ would have been harmless without the wound.

But no matter the situation, the depression remains.  It ebbs and flows but it’s still there. Always.  And probably forever.

Fuckwit Andrew is the pus from the crusty boil on the worlds asshole.  Others wished him some terrible karma for his wrongheadedness.  But I wouldn’t wish this mental state on Trump. But I do wish he would shut the fuck up.

I don’t mind if people are attention whores, but don’t destroy other people for attention.

Advertisements

Today I didn’t commit suicide

There have been really terrible places and times in my life where that was a statement that ran through my head.  Times when it was a choice and I was aware of it as a decision.

When that statement was running in my mind, I recognized that my choice should have been an achievement, but mostly I was just aware of it as a fact.  I survived.  I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it.

There have been times recently when I think about suicide without actually intending it in any way. I think about how I would do it, what it would feel like. I’ve been told that is called suicide ideation.

That is a bizarre place to be.  When I step back and look at what I am doing, I realize – why am I thinking about this horrifying thing?  Something is really wrong in my brain.  And then I remember.  Depression.  Depression is wrong with my brain.

Depression is the most slippery of all the enemies I will ever have.  I have put a personality on my brain disfunction.  To recognize the disfunction as something OTHER than me.  Because that is what is so hard for me.  My brain seems to think and do all kinds of messed up things.  My brain – Me

But it’s not me.

It’s the bastard – Depression.

When I can step back and see that it’s this Other thing, I can watch the way my brain acts that feels foreign to who I am, then I can get a grip on the fact that it’s not me.  Its not who I am.  Depression is something outside of me, making my brain act weird.

The hard part is that the brain is the part of my body that holds Me.  So when it acts weird, it feels like I’m weird.  But then I’m letting the Depression define me.  When I don’t move, it’s easy to decide I’m lazy.  But that isn’t a characteristic of who I am.  It’s a characteristic of the Depression.  When I’m in charge – I move.

My point is – Depression is not who I am.  It will swirl around in my head, sweeping my thoughts in weird directions, so that I spend time planning a suicide I really have no current intention or interest in carrying out.  That is just one of the obvious things.  There are so very many weird things it makes me think and do.  But those things are not me.  They do not define me.  They define Depression.

And it just takes a small step back to watch it, to recognize it as an outsider in my brain – a fucking bastard whom I can imagine shutting into a closet.  I wish that imagining that would make it go away, but it’s not that simple.  What is helpful though is remembering to step back.  To realize – it’s not me.  It’s Depression.

2b5919e67865a3523d3d1a8b9b696d53

Some people have service animals for coping with their mental illness

Animals that will make you hold their paw if you are anxious, or will stop you for self abuse, etc.

I have an Enabler animal.

Lily loves it when I am home and in bed because then she can cuddle with me. So she actively puts herself on me, refusing to move when I want to and makes it harder for me to get out of bed.

She trained herself, so that part was saving me money, I guess.

I’ve had a bad week and decided to take off Thursday and Friday so that at least when the implosion of my Depression happened I wasn’t calling off work.  Lily approves.  I’m not sure if I do.

It’s almost like I’m supporting the depression when I plan for the implosion, but I also know intellectually that the implosion was coming, whether I asked for the days off or not.  The only difference was whether I proactively handled it better for my job.

And this does at least keep the depression from using an unexcused absence as fuel for a bonfire of self hate.

And also Lily enjoys it.  And frankly, it’s all about Lily.  She knows it, I know it and we are all better off if everyone agrees on the state of things.

30546c34db33f476181e1627fefbcb30
Learn by Harpiya

-LEARN-by Harpiya

Female Warriors, a metaphor with troubles.

I struggle with depression and anxiety.  I’ve recently adopted a personal metaphor of being a warrior against the parts of my brain that don’t function as they should.

So occasionally I search for a female warrior image that matches the emotional state of my struggle.

And this is when I became hyper aware of the weird fetishizing of women as warriors.  Maybe I shouldn’t even call it a fetish because those images predominate.

It is nearly impossible to find an image where the breasts are not carefully delineated and huge.  And many just show the breast naked. I’ve seen images where the woman is naked and has a leather strap around her waist while she carries a sword.

Then there’s the weird poses.  You know the ones I mean.  Just look at the cover of any book or movie poster with women in action roles and they are arching their back awkwardly to push forward the breast or their hips.  They are angled so their butts show, their dress is slit and their leg is up to show the thigh.  And generally the perspective of the viewer is such that a body part like the breast is the predominant feature of image.

In other words they are selling sexual suggestion.  The thing is that this is so predominant that it’s normal and I never paid much attention to it.  It’s been that way my whole life.  But when I wanted to select images that reflected my particular emotional state it became suddenly clear that finding images with any emotional state besides sexuality was going to be something of a challenge.

So I try very hard to avoid images that turn the woman into a sexual object instead of a warrior.  Its so demeaning to the very concept of warrior, isn’t it?  It basically says this woman is actually just a toy for men that is playing at being a fighter.  Don’t take her seriously.

I prefer my images to be she’s serious and possibly deadly.cb48c4d911ccc83280384d5f8cc963c7

Weekend Triumphs

imageI ended the week on a high note.  My brain has decided to climb over the rim of the Abyss of my depression and see the world.  Sunlight and Energy and Optimism.

I cannot even begin to tell you how magnificent that is.  I know it won’t last, but while I’m here I’m glorying in it.

Friday I looked up 3 recipes and put together a grocery list for them and then after work I went to the grocery store and shopped like grown up for the ingredients.   Most of you are wondering why that sentence is something wondrous to me.  Well, I hate to shop, I buy the same things everytime shop, and those things are always cheap frozen meals and sandwich fixings and cat food.  So this was a triumph of mental energy for me.

Yesterday a UTI that had been hovering annoyingly in the background for 2 days decided to get serious.  So I went to the Little Clinic and got tested and meds.  Like a grown up.  Again, you are thinking – uh, that seems like a normal thing to do, Sara.  YES.  It is.  It’s a totally normal thing which last week I would not have done.  I would have abused ibuprofen and tried to drink more water and hoped/pretended that it would just go away before I died of a kidney infection.  Seriously.  So.  I’m loud and proud about my normal action to get antibiotics.

Then I came home and cooked and cleaned.  Like that was just a thing I do.  I know!  Its so weird and wonderful.

Today I want to buy shoes.  This, of course, sounds like a wonderful fun thing to do.  But for me its a THING.  First of all, I want to buy some expensive shoes from Mephisto because I’m a fat middle aged woman who needs good shoes.

So I had to wait for my tax refund to get them.  I got that on Thursday.  But then I spent my shoe money on my UTI.  This is annoying.  Now if I buy the shoes I am going to be using the money I had earmarked for car repair/maintenance.  That seems like a frivolous way to spend potentially necessary money for car stuff.

So now I’m debating.  I need new shoes in any case.  I think my ankle pain is because my current shoes have worn soles and so they are putting pressure on the joint in an odd way.   Also I’m fat.  I keep saying that because the scale yesterday was VERY RUDE to me.  I may need to start facing my eating habits.  But that’s off the subject.

The point, which I keep wandering away from, is should I buy the expensive shoes or just go to DSW and find something from the clearance rack?

I should probably go to DSW.  Sometimes you can find a great quality shoe for stupid cheap on clearance.  But that NEVER happens when you are actually looking for it.  It only happens when you are killing time while your friend is buying shoes or just shopping to be social with your sister or something.  Intention is never part of good deals.

Anyway, I’m in a good enough place that going to DSW is an actual possible thing I could do.  So that is in favor of that plan.

What do you guys think?  Go to the locally owned shoe store and get a good pair of shoes or just go to DSW or just stay home and cook?

Next up on It’s A Thought…. Women Warriors.  A metaphor with challenges.

How I get things done with depression/anxiety.

I am in that temper that if I were under water I would scarcely kick to come to the top.

~John Keats

That is what depression is for me at its worst.  Its apathy of the greatest and most destructive sort and when its manageable its a fight to gain enough traction to move.

When its manageable, I have to set up systems or I won’t win.  These are methods, tricks, processes I use to get myself to do the simple everyday tasks that you do without much thought.

The best systems are habits.  For example, my morning routine includes things that are habit.  I clean the kitty litter every morning before I leave for work.  I take out the trash when I leave the apartment.  They just happen without much thought.  And once the habit is there, it has to be a very bad day indeed to stop the habit.

But some things are just not tasks you can turn into a habit.  For example, I’m not going to vacuum my house daily.

So I set up a list of tasks that I will do.  The items on the list are not huge.  It does not say for example:  Clean the Bathroom.   It says clean the sink.  Clean the toilet.  Sweep the floor.  Mop the floor.  Clean the tub.

Then I set up a timer.  The timer is set for 45 minutes or an hour.  When it goes off I do a task for 5 minutes or until its done, whichever is first.  Then I reset the timer.  If I don’t finish the task, it has to be finished when the timer goes off next.

When I do that all day, I get a clean apartment, clean clothing, etc.

The thing is that nothing on the list is overwhelming.  And nothing on the list takes more than 5 minutes in normal circumstances.

Another thing I do is time how long it takes me to do onerous tasks.  Cleaning kitty litter used to be a bugaboo of mine.  I used to put huge blocks in my mind around it.  So one day I timed how long it took.  45 seconds.  It stopped being onerous when I realized it took less than a minute of my life.  Sometimes my brain creates disproportional views of things – and taking a simple step like timing it creates an objective ruler to break into my misconception.

I want to create more habits.  Routines that get done daily.  However starting and sustaining a routine for long enough to become a habit is hard.  My attempts have been failures so far.

Depression is not a static thing.  It changes daily and even hourly.  Its on a continuum.  Sometimes I just don’t move.  Stillness.  I can’t even get out of bed to go to work.  I’m nonfunctional.  There is no hope at all to exercise willpower.  Its not even in my list of options.

Sometimes I’m functional.  And if I pull out the mental whip and beat myself with it I can get some basic things done like going to work.  Its a weird terribly unhealthy way to get myself to move.

Sometimes I functional and hopeful.  And in those days I work with systems and goals..

Today I’m functional and hopeful.  Today is a good day.

Good Morning from Lily & I

lily computerI had lots of exciting plans for this weekend…

OK.  Exciting might possibly be hyperbole. I had plans.  To organize and clean and cook.

And now the lifesucking weekend is here and I can already feel it is going to be a battle.

I may be the only person in the world who does not like weekends.  Or to be more precise – days off.

I need days off.  But when they arrive I stop moving.  And all productive things happen only if all the stars align, if I implement a process of timers and lists and and my brain isn’t using the ONE RING* to ruin my life.

My life is a strange dichotomy.  At work, I’m very productive.  I do things both required and not required.  But when I leave work, it all falls apart.  I want so much to transfer the way I am at work to the rest of my life.  But I have yet to figure out the way to do that.

To be clear – depression/anxiety doesn’t disappear at work.  I still struggle with focus and make ridiculous mistakes because of it.  I have elaborate quality check processes because of this.

I still isolate at work.  I keep my back to the room, and don’t socialize much when I’m at work.  People will talk to me and I will respond with my back to them.  I’m not acting like a normal person there.

But I do get things done.  And I mostly don’t get stuff done at home.  I sit in bed all day, playing on the internet or reading.

Anyway, I’m going to begin the battle to make things happen today.  First the list.

*ONE RING: Used to “rule them all” or to ruin my life with Anxiety/Depression.

 

Why I was homeless 3 years ago.  

I certainly never thought I would be homeless in my lifetime.

I grew up in an upper middle class family.

I have a college education.

When I lost my job in 2009 I was making 62K a year.  In Cincinnati that is comfortable for a single person.

I had an excellent management job that I expected to keep and continue to be promoted in.

I had lots of friends and family.  In fact a few month ago, I found something I wrote about being grateful which included something to the effect that I was grateful that I would never face homelessness because I had family and friends, so if everything else went south I was at least safe from the depths of hell.

I think no one would think that I was the person who would be homeless.  So what happened?

Depression.

Non Functional Depression.

It didn’t start as nonfunctional, of course.  It started as an irritant in an otherwise rather lovely life.  I found myself unable to focus.  I didn’t want to go to a job I loved.  I began to call in due to the depression more often.

But I didn’t do anything about it.  Because Depression.   That’s what it does.  It makes you both irrational and unmotivated.  And I was convinced that I wasn’t depressed because my life was pretty damn good AND because I was big on projecting how strong I was and I didn’t want people to know I was actually a fucked up mess.

So I ignored it.  And it got bigger and stronger until one day – I couldn’t get out of bed at all.  That’s when I thought it might be a good idea to call the doctor.  She referred me to the psychiatrist who told me to take 6 weeks off and get my brain back online.

This is a career melting thing to do, but I didn’t have a lot of choice.  I wasn’t getting out of bed.  When I got back to work I was feeling pretty vulnerable and exposed and I was NOT feeling a whole lot better.  But I was DETERMINED.

Until I fell apart again 6 months later.  And took another 6 weeks off.  At this point my career was shot, but I still had a job.  They sidelined me and this gave me a chance to work on a project dear to my heart.  It didn’t require much interaction and allowed me to just wander down a labyrinth of writing up documentation.    I also spent a good deal of time training people.

My project was a success and the VP decided to forgive me, so she gave me a department that was drowning in a backlog of work and bad process.  So, despite not really loving that job, I did it.  While I did the job, the work got caught up, I got the employees engaged in making a better process, promoted several who needed the recognition,  and improved the overall quality of the work.

And I was late to work everyday.  To be fair, I was actually late because I was working from home, but this wasn’t a particularly enlightened company and my new supervisor was both very old school and not particularly fond of the fact that I fixed a department she had run for 10 years without any change of the issues I fixed in 6 months.  But you know.  Different styles.  I cared and I asked the folks doing the work what would make it better.  She showed up on time but couldn’t be bothered to talk to them.  But I’m sure being on time is helpful.

Anyway, she didn’t like seeing emails from me timestamped 630am and then having me walk in at 9am.  I liked working at home because I wasn’t interrupted.   At the office, if I wasn’t in a meeting, I was on the phone, or there was a line of people at my door waiting for me to solve a problem.  Its impossible to do any productive things in that environment.  And there were things I needed to get done.

So.  She put me on warning for being late.  Eventually she fired me.

I should have been on time.  She had a boundary and I couldn’t seem to make myself adapt to her boundary.  That was the depression.  You see in depression – its hard to change direction.  Imagine you are driving somewhere and you realize you missed your turn.  The fastest solution would be to turn around but instead you feel compelled to drive 6 miles out of your way to get there by NOT turning around.   Depression is like that.  Its on a track and once its on the track it doesn’t want to turn around or change tracks.

That’s why people with depression don’t take out the garbage or clean the house or get lots and lots of things done.  Because they are in a track that doesn’t include that task.  Its sort of like OCD but usually without action.  Usually the track is just non-movement.

For me getting ready for work was a change of track.  I was sitting in my pjs at my home computer getting a lot of stuff done.  But getting ready for work was an a different track.  And it was so hard to do.  So I decided to stop doing the work at home.  But then it was hard to get out of bed and get ready.

In anycase.  I lost the job.  And the depression then enveloped me like a black fog.  I got in bed and lay there.  If my mother hadn’t become bed ridden I don’t think I’d have moved.

But she did and so my life took on a new purpose.  I cared for her.  But she died 2 years later and that was the last tether holding me up.  I sank into the abyss and I haven’t been out since.  I lay in bed for 2 solid years until I had no money left and I was evicted from my apartment.

When I told my sisters I was deeply ashamed.   I was expecting to be evicted in 10 days when I finally made the call.  They came over to my apartment and this is what they said.

You need to put your animals to sleep.

You need to go into the hospital for depression.

You need to go to a homeless shelter.

I only heard the first part.  For the first time in 5 years all of my soul roared and I exploded in anger.  I refused to kill my pets because I was broken. It was unfair.  It was wrong.  It was awful.   One of my sisters agreed to take the dog because she thought her son would adopt it.  But the cat, Lily, was not part of the deal.

I called my friends and one of them agreed to take Lily until I could find a way to get her back.

That relief was palpable but it was followed by the realization that the last part of their plan was for me to go to a homeless shelter.  They didn’t want me in their homes.  They were rejecting me.

They used terms like “you have to hit rock bottom” and “tough love”.  But I firmly believe that those are just ways to make their choice feel righteous.  They certainly had the right not take me into their homes.  I recognize that.  I even understand why they would be reluctant to do it.   But I HATE that they want to feel righteous about it.  Because the act of putting a mentally ill person on the street is NEVER the helpful choice.  EVER.

I was spending 23 1/2 hours a day in my bed and they put me in a situation that would overwhelm a mentally healthy person.  I couldn’t cope with even minor things.

I drove myself to the hospital and they never visited me in the week I spent there.  I’m not sure what their logic there was.

They put a bit of a cherry on the rejection by renting a uhaul and a storage locker, packing up most of my stuff and putting it in storage.  They paid to keep my things safe and sheltered after I had already told them it didn’t matter to me if I lost all of it.  I just watched them numb and useless.

They drove away from me after handing me some money and a map to the homeless shelter.  I slept in my car.  It was early March and it was cold.

On the 2nd or 3rd night I was arrested because I hadn’t filed my taxes in the town where I lived.  I went to jail for a night.  The judge, upon recognizing that I didn’t actually OWE any money, I just didn’t file the form for 3 years (yeah depression), let me go.  When my sister picked me up from the court afterwards, she asked me if the friend who was taking care of my cat could take me in.    She also said it God’s blessing that the judge was kind and that I was arrested on the night that it snowed 6 inches so I was inside on that night.  I was arrested at 3am.

She gave me a gift certificate for a couple hundred dollars and I used it to get a night in a motel, so I could wash off the jail and sleep.  It turns out sleeping in a car was mostly NOT sleeping for me.  And there is NO sleeping in a jail.

My friends on tumblr set up a fundraiser and got me 3 weeks in a motel.  And then I was in the car again.  I did that for about a few weeks when my friend who took the cat in, got me a job with her sister.  The job I currently have.

Another friend got me a week in a hotel after I got the job.  His position being that as long as I was trying he was willing to help me with some money.

After I had the job a couple of weeks I got a paycheck and was finally able to move into a rooming house.

I have just barely sketched out what happened.  I was homeless for about 2 months.   Its was a terrible experience from a lot of points of view, but it doesn’t even come CLOSE to how terrible it can be for people who live on the street.  I own my car outright and I lived in it.  I never went to the homeless shelter because I was terrified of them.

In the end, I was still depressed, I had a dramatic increase in Anxiety and whole new boatload of emotional pain associated with my sisters.  I am now functioning.  Sometimes barely, sometimes reasonably.  But I am not well.

 

Its real.

“Depression is humiliating. It turns intelligent, kind people into zombies who can’t wash a dish or change their socks. It affects the ability to think clearly, to feel anything, to ascribe value to your children, your lifelong passions, your relative good fortune.

It scoops out your normal healthy ability to cope with bad days and bad news, and replaces it with an unrecognizable sludge that finds no pleasure, no delight, no point in anything outside of bed.

You alienate your friends because you can’t comport yourself socially, you risk your job because you can’t concentrate, you live in moderate squalor because you have no energy to stand up, let alone take out the garbage.

You become pathetic and you know it. And you have no capacity to stop the downward plunge. You have no perspective, no emotional reserves, no faith that it will get better. So you feel guilty and ashamed of your inability to deal with life like a regular human, which exacerbates the depression and the isolation.

If you’ve never been depressed, thank your lucky stars and back off the folks who take a pill so they can make eye contact with the grocery store cashier. No one on earth would choose the nightmare of depression over an averagely turbulent normal life.

It’s not an incapacity to cope with day to day living in the modern world. It’s an incapacity to function. At all. If you and your loved ones have been spared, every blessing to you. If depression has taken root in you or your loved ones, every blessing to you, too.

No one chooses it. No one deserves it. It runs in families, it ruins families.

You cannot imagine what it takes to feign normalcy, to show up to work, to make a dentist appointment, to pay bills, to walk your dog, to return library books on time, to keep enough toilet paper on hand, when you are exerting most of your capacity on trying not to kill yourself.

Depression is real. Just because you’ve never had it doesn’t make it imaginary.

Compassion is also real. And a depressed person may cling desperately to it until they are out of the woods and they may remember your compassion for the rest of their lives as a force greater than their depression.

Have a heart. Judge not lest ye be judged.”

—-

That was written on tumblr by ~sherunsfromdarkness, 4 years ago.

Everytime I re-read it, I’m awed by how accurately she captured depression.  There it is.  That’s it. I could write more, but essentially – that’s it.

 

I’m so desperate for happiness

snake-oil-cures-all-returntothemystic-org_That I’m actually considering buying a product that is almost certainly a sham.

Its set of headphones, called Nervana, that stimulate the vagus nerve and its supposed to make you feel good for a few minutes up to an hour.  Its $300.

Its probably a load of crap.  But I want it to be real.  I want to find a few moments of relief and so I’m considering spending $300 I don’t really have on the very unlikely possibility that it will work.

As you can see, I’m quite aware that it’s about as likely to help me homeopathy.  But my brain just won’t stop reaching for that tiny possibility – maybe it will work.  Maybe, just maybe I can buy a few minutes of relief.

If it works it would be utterly worth the money to me.  If it didn’t, which is more likely, it will just add one more log onto the bonfire of my self loathing.

This is why I get angry at people who offer sham hope to people with a mental illness.  Because the desperate and terrible need for some form of relief is much stronger than the rational analytical part of the brain.  And they take advantage.  And then later, we, the duped,  have one more story to add to the horror show in our brains, when we remember that one time we tried that thing that we hoped would work, but didn’t.

They aren’t on sale yet.  Maybe I will crawl high enough in hole that it won’t be tempting when they actually do go on sale.