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.