Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gratitude in a time of pain

My depression has been off the charts lately. I went through a brief period of hypomania, complete with excess spending, lack of need for sleep, and pressured speech, which was fun. But last week, I fell faster than a dead bird from the sky and crashed so hard it physically hurt. This prompted my psychiatrist to wonder about the possibility of bipolar disorder! WHAT???? Whatever the diagnosis, however, the pain is unchanged.

I’m so tired of talking about the pain. I’m so tired of battling the pain. I’ve been locked up in my incredibly disorganized and messy home, unable to sleep, write, or even move occasionally. I’ve given up on “healthy” coping. It’s amazing how quickly the old habits, the ones used purely for escape, swoop back in–perhaps on the wings of that dead bird falling from the sky.

I have minimally struggled with the desire to drink, but I’ve still got more in my arsenal than alcohol. Shopping, eating junk, obsessing about eating junk, self-harm, and suicide…these are all old standbys which have crept from the dark recesses of my brain. Within the past week, hopelessness has been more prevalent than at any time during the past 1-2 years, and the hopelessness didn’t scare me. That was scary.

So why am I telling you this? Well…from the few posts I was able to enter on my own blog I received grateful comments from others who could “totally relate.” I was spilling out hopelessness, discouragement and pain, yet others were glad to read it. The words I wrote and the feelings I spilled helped them connect, which in turn helped me feel less alone. I am so grateful for the readers who left those comments. While I am piercingly sad for their pain, their comments humble me and inspire renewed purpose. In AA, we encourage working with others to decrease our self-focus and distress. I forget that when I’m suffocating in the thick fog of depression. But it works.

Depression sucks. It is the most isolating illness I’ve ever experienced. I am so grateful for those of you who read my words despite the sometimes less-than-inspiring content. It is my wish that these words today, words I’d rather not write, words I’d prefer to replace with something more healing and hopeful, will touch at least one of you. When you’re touched, I’m relieved. Together, perhaps we can join hands in cyberspace, if only for a moment, and feel connected–not alone. Feel free to take my hand. “I totally get it.”

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