The dadventure is afoot!

Not ready, but closer to being ready than I’m comfortable with

Over the past year I’ve discovered just how powerful and debilitating mental illness is.  If you read nothing else of what I say on this blog, ever, read this:

Depression, anxiety, insecurity, and many, many more disorders/illnesses are REAL.  They may be invisible, but they are most definitely real.  If you feel even an inkling of a notion that you have depression or anything of the sort – DO NOT ignore it.  Get help.  If you see even an inkling of a notion that someone you know has depression or anything of the sort – DO NOT ignore it and DO NOT let them ignore it.  Intervene.  Get help.  Do not take no for an answer.

Here’s the thing: a life may be at stake.

In some instances, more than one life may be at stake.

Mental illness, at least as I personally know it, includes voices or thoughts in my brain telling me things that run contrary to reality.  Unpleasant thoughts.  Negative thought after negative thought.  Voices that may well be coming from monsters.  Voices telling me I have no worth, no value, nothing about me deserving of love, and no hope that those will ever change.  Thoughts that drag me down into an ever downward spiral, in which I’m sometimes left with nothing but despair and hopelessness.

My guess is I’m not the first or only human to experience this.

If it occurs enough times, or to great enough an extent, the despair and hopelessness can, I suspect, be so dominant as to be the only thoughts left.  At that point, life is in danger.

An attribute of depression is that it doesn’t care if the person is otherwise happy or sad or content or ill or angry or, well, depressed.  It will come at any time, any place, any situation.  What’s extremely frustrating is when it comes amidst times that are perfectly happy moments with loved ones.  Times that would bring such great joy and fulfillment.  Times when the love of those sharing the moment are feeling the full extent of their love and affection and devotion.

Those moments are precious, whether they’re frequent or scarce.  As they say, we don’t get those moments back to experience them again.  So if we miss grand and truly wonderful moments, we don’t get another opportunity to relive them.  They’re gone.

Not surprisingly, if we’re not fully engaged in those moments, or not engaged at all, our depression affects not only ourselves but those loved ones as well.  If our anxiety is so great that we simply remove ourselves from the beautiful moment, those that love us are left wondering why we would do such a thing.

I’ve been there.  I was recently experiencing the first of what I hope will be many such holiday traditions.  At this point, that hope is fading, but I’m not even going to go there.  The dark and menacing thoughts generated by my depression were so overwhelming I could no longer stay.  The effects of that moment are still being felt, I don’t know how many days later.  I’m dogged by my unintentional withdrawal, as is another person, a person as dear to me as anyone.

Merely one example, that illustrates very well the devastation that depression and anxiety and insecurity can have.  Their effect has been felt on plenty of other occasions, enough that now I’m getting worn down so much I don’t know how more I can take, or how much more I can inflict on that dear woman.  Our love is strong and secure, but in my depression I find myself questioning whether it is strong enough.

It’s a terrible thing.

When mental illness and its path of destruction reach such a point, thoughts of giving up come at an ever increasing frequency.  The depression-affected brain is less and less able to cope with those thoughts in a rational manner.

The last thing I want to do is give up.  I have a wonderful life ahead of me.  I have a love that can sustain me through anything. I have love inside me so strong that it has played a significant part in saving a life.  I have daughters that are going to change the world and until they do are a hoot to be with.  I’m otherwise healthy.  Purely by chance, I live in a part of the world in which war and poverty and starvation are not prevalent.  In other words, I have so so much to live for.

Now, all that said, I have a potentially long and difficult road ahead in learning how to minimize and cope with the thoughts brought on by mental illness.  It’s got to change.  They simply cannot continue to do what they do to me, and those I love.  In the meantime I continue to fight the thoughts and voices to the best of my ability.  To be blunt, it’s not easy.  It’s maybe the most difficult thing I’ve ever faced – and in the past year I’ve faced some seriously difficult situations.

Giving up on life is never a rational thought.  Giving up on a good life is ludicrous.  I don’t want to give up.  I’m not ready.  The hope and plan are that I’m equal to the task of defeating the depression and its friends.  The hope and plan are that I live my life with all the hope and promise it holds for me.  I’m not ready to give up on that life.  I have no real intention of giving up, and am not in danger.  The thoughts and voices haven’t convinced me to give up yet.  I’m just not ready.

And yet…

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29 responses

  1. I am sure you are very strong Sid and I am glad you are determined to keep fighting. All the best and hope to see you around lot more. Take care and happy holidays. Been missing you…

    December 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    • Sid

      Thanks M – missing you as well.

      December 13, 2013 at 1:44 pm

  2. You can only do so much when your mind decides to withdraw. As long as those moments stay apart longer as times passes by right? The road of wondering in the dark forest can be so heavy at times and I know I sugar coat it when I say “road of wondering”, but it’s the best way to describe it for me. I think the upside is that you are fully aware of it, no matter when it strikes or how incovenient it is. That’s at least one step forward. You have shimmering lights when the world gets a bit darker. You have reasons worth fighting for in this life. Your loved ones are there and you know what your mind is doing. It’s like the opposite world of waiting for the mind to catch up what your heart already knows. Usually you have to wait till the heart has caught up.

    Thank you for sharing this and I’m glad that I got to know you and Claudia this year. :) *waves*

    December 8, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    • Sid

      Ah, Tahira/TJ, I definitely do have much to live for – as you know. Thank you new friend.

      December 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm

  3. Sid, you’ve reached the point of being very uncomfortable and even miserable with the path your ego (thoughts/voices) takes you on, and you are cognizant when it happens. You are probably even aware of the triggers that bring on the thoughts and voices. This is a crossroad where you quit being the victim of your psyche. It’s time to put on your armor and go to battle! Changing thought process is difficult, and it’s a constant battle. Many days I simply have to tell my thoughts to “shut up” and immediately redirect my mind elsewhere – to something good and pleasant, something positive. It helps greatly to gather a battalion of friends and choose your weapons… self-help books, inspiring music and video, engaging in relaxation and meditative activities. Take part in physical tasks that help you feel good in body and spirit. And allow those who love and care about you to help however they can.

    Our life’s journey takes us on some difficult paths. But the human spirit is tough, my friend. You will persevere and find your way, and you will help others along the way… because you understand and have compassion. That is what we strive for, to share our experience so that others might understand and heal.

    I love that you are sharing your thoughts and struggles. So many of us have been there, and yes, most of us still have tough days where the ego tries to nail us again! You have a voice Sid, louder than your ego. Fight back, and win the battle!

    And feel the healing balm of love… it is the gift we all give each other.

    December 8, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    • Sid

      Much thanks as always, Lori. You know, feeling the love is so simple yet so difficult when one doubts the logic and likelihood of it. And yet, that’s just what I need to do. Now where is that armor…?

      December 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm

  4. Stay strong Sid. You have so much to offer. Your posts are so raw, honest and well written, you are bound to be helping others that feel the same way but cannot articulate it as you can. It’s truly an act of courage to share as you do. God Bless! Susan

    December 8, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    • Sid

      It’s funny, Susan, because I would say the same about others who do this much more eloquently than I do. Hey, if one person is helped in their journey, it’s all worthwhile. Thanks again my foggy friend. :)

      December 13, 2013 at 1:52 pm

  5. My mother suffered from depression. It’s a terrible thing. In spite of it, she was a very strong woman. I marvel at how she was able to pick up one foot and put it down in front of another to keep moving forward. I’m sure there were times when it must have seemed all but impossible to manage. But manage she did.

    Sid, you’re all the stronger and more able to appreciate the joyful times because you understand yourself and put your honest feelings out there. A lot of people love you and need you. You are exactly correct in your counsel to intervene when things are not right.

    My thoughts, prayers and understanding are with you.

    I look forward to continuing to read your posts. I hope joy can part the clouds for you with increasing frequency.

    December 8, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    • Sid

      I look forward to writing more, Cheryl – but less with this kind of tone. Thank you for the supportive words.

      December 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm

  6. Jeff your old friend from Tech

    Stay strong Sid. Stay strong. I’ll pray for you.

    December 8, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    • Sid

      Works both ways, Jeff old man. Thanks!

      December 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm

  7. Sid, you’ve been on my mind for a long time. I’ve been preoccupied elsewhere and have not really been around much but I have to tell you … you really have been in my prayers and will continue to be. You are so much stronger than you think or than the voices in your head allow you to think. We are ALL with you, God first and fore most. I pray daily for you, always.
    Your friend up north…
    ~d.

    December 8, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    • Sid

      I feel better already, D – I mean, considering I’ve been away from blogging too, what more could I ask from a WordPress friend? Thank you – I’m ready to catch up with the horses, by the way.

      December 13, 2013 at 2:02 pm

  8. Sid, I know it is difficult and hard for you. But I know that you are strong, so don’t give up and keep fighting. I’ll always pray for you

    December 8, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    • Sid

      I’ll tell you, Chris – having so many WordPress friends from as far away as you are (!) is a big help. If I’d just let myself get back in the swing of blogging and reading…

      December 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm

  9. I believe in you. – Jenia

    December 8, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    • Sid

      Powerful words, Jenia – thank you. And Shon.

      December 13, 2013 at 2:04 pm

  10. In order to avoid spraying a giant, desperate happiness sprinkler at your face while you are in the grips of depression, I will ask if you are familiar with hyperbole and a half’s comics on depression. This is part two:

    http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2013-10-02T14:53:00-06:00&max-results=10

    part 1 is also good:

    http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2013-05-09T08:55:00-06:00&max-results=10&start=1&by-date=false

    but it’s part 2 that ends with the “maybe everything isn’t hopeless bullshit” rainbow.

    Depression runs in my family. I’ve seen it from many sides. The hardest part isn’t so much the asking for help, but believing that you deserve it. Here’s hoping you decide to take the long walk back.

    December 9, 2013 at 7:59 am

    • Sid

      I like that a LOT, Jennifer. Not sure how you did it, but you nailed it with “believing that [I] deserve it” line. Thanks for the happiness sprinkler in my face – I appreciate it.

      December 13, 2013 at 2:18 pm

  11. Wishing you the best Sid.

    December 9, 2013 at 11:33 am

    • Sid

      Thanks Phil! I’ve not been around like at all in months, and I’ll tell you – I miss your marsh friends. Hope all is well with you.

      December 13, 2013 at 7:20 pm

  12. I’m sorry to have been out of touch for so long, Sid. For my first mess-up, I had accidentally set my “Word Press” page to get no emails when a posting is made (duh). What a techie, eh? Also my wife and I have one each aging parent and we have been concentrating on them. My wife’s father is 90 and my mom is 85; both have dementia that is rapidly getting worse and they live about 65 miles from us so we have been on the road a LOT. They both have 24 hour in-home care but I do not know how much longer that will be feasible. Lastly, my own chronic pain condition was still status quo – everything was going well – then all of a sudden our insurance company sends us a letter saying they are halving my pain meds that they will pay for so we are in the fight of our lives. To stay on my current dose that works will cost $5200/month and simply cannot afford it. We are insured thru my wife’s govt. job so it gets complicated. First, we sent in a thesis length paper showing why they should not do this but we have not, as of yet, received the inevitable NO. When that occurs, the next step is mediation thru the Federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and if that fails it is to court we go. I have also been in contact with my Representative in Congress, Bobby Scott (D) and both of my senators, Kaine (D) and Warner (D). I am pleased that they all have (D)s after their names, lol. All three seem interested in my case and they, along with us, cannot fathom why the insurance company would be doing this to me. In our way of thinking, a denial means that the government is doing something tantamount to torture – last time I checked that was illegal unless you are at Gitmo (do you feel the sarcasm?). If Govt. BC/BS wins, I will have no quality of life and will be back practically housebound in agonizing pain after three and a half years of the best quality of life I’ve had since my early twenties (that’s 40 years ago).

    Finally, I hope YOU are having more good days than bad. I’ve been there, done that, and know how one can get in a dismal place and not be able to find a way out. You still being here and fighting is a VERY good sign, Sid! Please keep us posted and keep fighting. My own anxiety and depression are both well-controlled by medication. You will not be able to get rid of me now, buddy.

    December 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    • Sid

      Holy crap, Louis. I just can’t wrap my brain around how it be can allowed that health care is such a bureaucratic and ineffective nightmare. Sigh. My best wishes are going out to you and Kristin (right?) for sure. As for me, yep – I’m still here. I know you’ve been there, and that actually gives me quite a bit of hope. Ultimately I have to decide how much I want to accept the love offered to me and not question or doubt it. Sounds simple; anything but for some reason only god knows. So, thanks for your always kind words.

      December 13, 2013 at 7:27 pm

  13. Really close – it is Kristen! Sid, I understand and just know that I’m here if you need a cyber shoulder. I do not want to invade your space but I will occasionally, lol!

    December 14, 2013 at 3:53 pm

  14. A difficult time of year even for those with no mental health issues (which is someone in denial — everyone is somewhere on the spectrum of “healthy” or “unhealthy” mental health!) – but so many pressures, so many expectations, so much stress. Know that you have a great group of blogosphere support who always welcome a post from Sid and sharing your thoughts. Hang in there, and may each day be a step forward.

    December 16, 2013 at 9:32 pm

  15. Your description of depression is spot-on. No, you’re not the only one to fight this demon. There’s a lot of us. Stress and feeling pressured brings it on for me. I’ve experienced depression and anxiety the majority of my life, but I first began therapy for it 19 years ago (currently, as well). And those voices, I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes, I just want to smack myself upside the head and say, “Shut up!” Which, sometimes, wouldn’t be such a bad idea considering I tend to obsess over these thoughts.

    Keep fighting the good fight, Sid. I know it can be hard. Allow your daughters to be that light that guides you out of the darkness. All my best to you. ~Patricia

    December 24, 2013 at 12:16 am

    • You always have just the right thing to say, and I appreciate that you do it here. I know there are many out there going through similar things. It’s sometimes a good thing to remember, even though it’s a sad thing.

      So thank you, again, for sharing, Patricia. Are you familiar with Blog For Mental Health 2014 project? Yours would be a fantastic voice to add to those who pledge to write about depression, et al. At least check it out. There’s no pressure, and taking part is really for the benefit of the blogger, not the project.

      http://acanvasoftheminds.com/2014/01/07/blog-for-mental-health-2014/

      January 8, 2014 at 11:15 am

      • Actually, I am familiar with Blog For Mental Health 2014. I noticed several people participating last year. I haven’t had the courage to share my entire story on my “pixygiggles” blog. I had hoped to keep that blog geared more towards art and photography. Coincidentally, I also began a second blog at the first of this year under a pseudonym in order to give myself a little more anonymity to tell my story. It’s quite a bit darker given the story I’m telling there. It’s the Yin to my Yang (pixygiggles). If you’re interested, feel free to email me at pixygiggles@gmail.com, and I’ll share the link with you. I would share here; but I want the two accounts completely separate from each other, at least, for now. And thanks, Sid, you are an inspiration. :)

        January 9, 2014 at 10:57 pm

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