Choice Between Life and Death
Depression for me was laying in my bed, with a physical weight on me, like extra gravity, stopping me from moving. I had no desire to do normal activities, like showering, or cleaning the house, much less do anything in the outside world. My house was a mess, like an extension of my broken soul. The amount of work I would have to do to fix my house, my broken life seemed insurmountable, so I didn't see any point to doing it.
Different things triggered my depression: bad childhood memories. Friends letting me down. Watching the news, and researching the US corporatocracy.
I had gone through about 10 years of therapy, and after researching anti-depressants, decided they were too dangerous and decided that I was going to cure this myself, or die. It was not what I'm recommending, but it was my descision.
Anyway, I spent a few very bad years, getting worse and worse. I had grown fat from inactivity and lack of exercise. My constant stress had etched into my face and body-- I looked awful. I would come out of depression occasionally, but couldn't remember what it was like to be depressed when I was happy, just as I couldn't remember what is was like to be happy when I was depressed. They were two different personalities that had no knowledge of each other. I was semi-functional, doing just enough to survive.
I remember my turning point. I was laying in bed, face down, and decided to write what I felt. It took me an hour to grab my journal and pen, and drag it to my face. I scribbled without even looking at the page, and even this was a monumental effort. I just remembered that I wanted to record this moment, so I could share with the happy part of myself, and perhaps others, what it felt like to be depressed. Like I said, I could never remember what I was thinking when I was depressed when I came out of it. I would just tell my loved ones that I felt bad, dark, awful, powerless, couldn't move, dragged, etc.
I wrote about being in a deep, dark, pit. There was light up above me, but I couldn't see it. I just knew it was there. But I kept sliding down. I realized death was at the bottom of the pit. I felt dark creatures pulling me down, encouraging me to the dark. The light was understanding my depression, mastering and controlling it, somehow. I could somehow see myself from a rational part of my brain, and felt a flash of anger that these demon creatures at the bottom of the pit wanted me dead. Wanted to feast on my energy, my self? Demons would gladly pull me down and eat me? Sounds wierd, but it was the imagery I experienced at the time.
Somehow by writing this down, so I wouldn't forget, so I would always know what was happening when I was depressed freed me. I got angry at these demons and decided to crawl up. It was an awful climb on slippery, sharp, cold rocks. But after moments? Or years? I saw some light. I climbed for a timeless time and saw light. I felt grass. I pulled myself out of the hole, and rolled on the grass and layed in the sun. I knew I had save my life at the end of this wierd writing journey meditation.
That was 5 years ago and I'm working on rebuilding my life. It turns out, in retrospect, that I had to change my life to feel better, period. I had been overwhelmed and debilitated by debt. I spent the last 5 years getting out of debt and now own my home. That helped with my depression a lot. I don't feel like creditors are feasting on me anymore. I have made a big effort to clean my house, which may sound wierd to some. I was an A student in college, but as a housemom, couldn't manage to make my bed, wash the dishes, take a shower, and perform basic cleanliness on a daily basis. Organizing everything and cleaning everything helped my depression a lot. I switched to a 100% organic diet, with an emphasis on raw fruits and vegetables. This made a huge difference. I am working on exercising daily. I work in the garden daily-- this helps a lot. I planted fruit trees so I don't worry that I won't have food. I volunteer to help feel like I'm doing something to fight the evil I see in the news.
I had two realizations that helped. First, is that I am powerless and powerful, depending on my situation. I am powerful enough to save the lives of millions of non-human creature, for example, by creating a habitat for butterflies and wildlife, I am saving lives that are less powerful than me. Also, I am powerless. I don't have the power or the brains to stop a war. I may one day, but not today. And that's okay, it's just where I am.
Second, sometimes bad things can happen that are too terrible to bear at the time. This is the life of a human, and raging against the world an other on that point is a waste of time. If you are powerless to stop a crappy situation, then you bear it as best as you can, and thank your stars if you find a way to get out of it, and some quiet years to heal it.
One more realization was that I don't need to be happy all of the time. The TV tells me I should extremely happy. The truth is we live in a world that is too messed up to be as happy in the way the TV propaganda says we should. True happiness comes from helping others and fighting to make a difference, from pulling your own weight, and from using your power wisely, not from pretending nothing is wrong in the world and dancing on the faces of the poor and marginalized. True happiness is not laughing your face off and a permasmile, it's a state of inner contentment, and knowledge that your are doing well with the power and station you were given.
I get better everyday, the more simple and functional I make my life. I accept the way the world is. The 5000 years of human history has been brutal, full of wars and brutal authoritarian rule. It is normal to have some sadness over history, I think. However, I have great love for the Earth, and for the few people who had limitless, unselfish love and did amazing things to give us a better future. Nothing is perfect, and I guess realizing that I could still love life, even though it was awful sometimes, made me feel better.
A happy person may wonder why I think so much about negative stuff, and don't just think about happy things? All I can say is that I can't. I have to think about the negative things and somehow make sense of them, period. Glossing over reality is basically impossible for me, and I wouldn't want to do it anyway. I would rather be depressed than live happily in ignorance. I guess that is why I've had depression.
I haven't had debilitating, lay in my bed, suicidal depression since my wierd writing experience. But I do get sad often. Sometime, I will read about some injustice in the world and will just cry. Then I stop crying and write letters to politicians, or blog about it, or donate some money to a cause fighting the injustice, or even start my own group to stop an injustice, or do something, anything, to feel like I'm making a difference. Often positive action, no matter how small, is the only thing that keeps me from depression.
Anyway, this is getting too long. I hope I help someone with my story, because it is why I wrote it.