On how I cope with this depression…

Sooo…. Here’s the thing….

I do not enjoy or like talking about the depression I have experienced in my life, or that fact that I have tried to kill myself.  Depression and suicide are not simple and easy topics for me to discuss openly, and I still worry about being judged. Also, I usually do not put up blog posts within days of each other.  However, something happened recently.  The same sort of thing happened that caused me to write my first post on depression.

A few days ago, a sweet person I know (pseudo) named Damon had a meal with my husband and I. During that meal we discussed our struggles with depression.  Damon discussed his recent bout with seasonal depression.  My husband (who gave me the okay to write about this) discussed being the first person in his family to openly talk about having and dealing with depression.  I discussed having depression for about fourteen years, and the coping techniques I have learned along the way.

I told my husband I wanted to re-post the entry I had written.  He responded with, “You should write a new one.”  I am writing a new one.  I am not writing it because I particularly want to.  I am writing a new post because for some strange reason God has spared my life.  The love of God has overcome what should have been my death.  To not be thankful for the re-gift of my life and to choose not to share my experience would be selfish.

My first post on depression was in October of last year.  In my first post I mentioned a few things I do to deal with my depression.  I mentioned that I: 1) admit that I have a problem, 2) accept help and 3) understand that I cannot do this alone.
After the conversation with Damon, I wanted to write about other things that I have done throughout my journey with depression*.  Writing this now is hard for me, but whatever… okay…. just go……

First, I have made it through the darkness and come out alive.  The darkest day of my life was the day where I honestly believed that death and nothingness would be better than living.  The weeks that followed my suicide attempt totally sucked.  I was eighteen, scared, alone and terribly sad.  That was almost ten years ago.  I made it.  I overcame my darkest day, and I know throughout the depths of my soul that I can always keep going.  That is how we get through life – the only way – we just keep going.

Second, our society can kind of suck at finding fast help for people with depression – but good help is out there if you look.  A few months ago (before we were married) my husband was looking for a mental health counselor.  He was not suicidal, but just needed help.  We had to call the insurance company once to get a list of covered counselors.  When that list of six didn’t answer, didn’t call back or had no appointments – we had to call the insurance company back to get a second list of people to call.  After we got through the second list a nice guy answered and said he could help.  I would say this experience was an anomaly, but I have been around the depression block and a lag time in finding care seems to be standard.  The good news is, every time I have sought out help – I have found it.  I have never reached out for help and had my hand slapped.  Help is there.  If you need it, you can find it.

Third, it is okay and necessary to reach out to ask for help, but you cannot expect that the person that reaches back can make decisions for your life.  I once saw a counselor when I was feeling suicidal.  Half-way though our session the counselor stopped me mid-sentence to say “You can do this.  You have the power not to hurt yourself.  No one else can do this for you.  Only you.”  Until someone said those words to me, I had never thought them.  I never realized that I did not have to be a victim, I have power over myself and my thinking, and I have the power to make good decisions for myself.
Forth, it is so important to have a good support network.  I wrote about this one before – but it has been my saving grace.  I believe that we experience God through other people, and when I have been down and dumpy – people have been there to help.  Finding a good support network has taken me some time and effort.  Case in point… I use to be (emphasis on use to be) friends with a married couple, where the husband was an aspiring counselor who had never experienced mental illness a day in his life.  Now, I am not saying you need to experience an illness to have sympathy for a person.  But I was talking to the couple about my experience with mental illness and the husband proceeded to dump words and phrases on me that were ignorant, alienating, and altogether just plain shitty.  From that experience, I learned to create a good support network.  I learned the value in picking good friends.  I also learned the value in getting rid of not-so-good friends.

Fifth, it is important to do things for yourself.  After a first counseling session, I once had a counselor say to me, “And what are you doing to feed your soul?”  I was so dumbfounded by the question that I became offended.  That following week I couldn’t get the question out of my head, and I quickly realized… I was doing nothing to feed my soul.  I was doing nothing for myself.  So I made a list of stuff I wanted to do, and I started doing it.  I started baking, I started going to church, I started taking walks, I started a little blog.  Doing things for myself has helped me find value in the person God created me to be.  I don’t need to be better than anyone else, because there are tons of people that are better than me at everything.  I don’t need to be perfect, because that is impossible.  All I need to do is be myself, and feed the gifts God has given to me.

Sixth, I accept the fact that I do not have it all figured out.  I don’t know everything.  I never will know everything.  I have issues that come up all the time.  When they come up, I just go through it and figure it out.  I also accept the fact that change happens in a zigzag.  Every time I have wanted to change a habit, I start off great – then fall back – then get a bit better – then fall back – then do more – then fall back.   Making big changes in my life has rarely happened over night, and sometimes I do okay – then fail.  And whatever, that is okay.  I just keep moving.

Seventh – last – perfectly … it must be said that…. you are loved.  You are loved beyond measure, despite what any person has ever told you.  Despite your faults, your sins, your past or your pain – God loves you.  God will always love you.  There is nothing you can ever do that will destroy that.  The love of God is stronger than anything we can ever imagine or dream.

  •   * This post is about I did and what I have done to cope with my depression.  I am not a counselor or therapist.  I do not have formal training on depression.  If you have depression or a mental illness, I recommend seeing a trained professional first.  I hope that if you need help with depression, you use my words as a voice of someone who has found coping techniques to deal with a tough issue.  Do not use my words as your exclusive medical advice.

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