AUGUST 14, 2014 LEE’S SUMMIT – Living takes courage and it takes the ability to learn every day and apply your learning. This week two people we all at least heard of had their lives come to an end: One by personal action, and one by old age.
Often I use the line that “the older I get, the younger my grandparents were”. I think that may apply to most of us baby boomers. Being 30 was not as bad as I thought it would be in my teens. Being 40 turned out to be a lot of fun. Now on the downhill side of my 50’s I see 63 as only a few years away and truly not that old. I still look at the 80’s as a long life; but maybe not as long as when I was a teenager.
Depression is something many of us battle. What one has to learn is that depression is the constant liar that never sleeps. It tells you how bad things are constantly. It tells you how unwanted you are. It builds an argument in your mind that you are a failure, and that you’ll never be who you could have been. It takes the smallest setbacks and it magnifies them to extremes. It does so in ways so imperceptible that when they arrive at your conscious mind it takes your breath and your heart away.
It is at those times where remembering that it is never as good as it seems, nor as bad as it feels helps you keep grounded. Life is full of ups and downs. However, to those who understand depression in the first person realize that sometimes you can exaggerate both ends. If you get too high, you fall far harder – that is still part of the lie depression tells you.
Early in life, as you face the start of normal down cycles you have little experience with them. You learn to cope the best you can. As you grow older and more experienced you may notice that your down cycles are deeper than those around you. Then someone, maybe yourself, pin a name on the down cycle: Depression. But Depression has a stigma so you don’t dare let your family know, your boss know, your neighbor know, you lock it in and hope you learn how to deal with it.
That too is part of the lies of the insidious mental invader we call depression. It tells you, no one will understand. It yells at you of what a failure you’ll appear to be if you reach out to get help.
In a science fiction way, you could think of depression as a mental parasite the feeds on your bad feelings, and starves when you’re feeling good. So, this invader lies to you until you start to believe the lies and you start to move down the spiral stair case, picking up speed as you descend through the veils of insecurity, fear, and a lowering self-esteem till you bottom out at quiet desperation.
Once depression has you down, it does not let go. Quiet desperation is not enough, it knows it has you and it wants you to feel worse about yourself. Experts in the field find that depression can often invite chemical dependency or other addictions into the mental party and join into the lie, by making you feel better for a moment.
The reality, say those who study and understand this adjunct process, is that you don’t really feel better, you just don’t feel as bad – for a moment. Then, when the high is over, you crash even harder. Each time it takes more and more effort to reach up.
The amount of mental energy required to get up in the morning, to fake a good morning smile, to fake your day through work, through meetings, through church take more and more out of you; till all you can do is work and sleep. Then you sleep through work, and now you feel even worse. You start to actually fail and that gives credibility to your invader. Your depression voice starts to say “see, I told you so” even though it is never words but only feelings.
Learning to live with depression, deep down cycles, or the roller coaster of emotional swings; whether caused by hormonal issues, or mind issues, all take a toll on your energy and they all require that you constantly learn how to cope.
Every expert on the field tells you to reach out to those important around you. They could not be more right. They all tell you that they won’t judge you as harshly as you do yourself. They are just as right. What people tend to not hear, though the words are often spoken, is that you have to fight and you have to arm yourself with new tools every day. You have to keep understanding that the parasite that invaded your sci-fi mind will never leave and you will have a lifetime of learning to do. You might as well commit yourself for the long haul and focus.
It will tell you that you can’t be as strong as it is – it lies, don’t believe it.
It will tell you that you’re a failure and you’ll fail at this too – remember, it lies, so don’t believe it.
It tells you you’re ugly inside as a person, striking at your core of self-worth – keep reminding yourself: It lies, don’t believe it.
It will eventually tell you, the world is better off without you. It is the worst lie of all; don’t believe it! How much more depressed can you be, than at that final moment when you realize the mistake you just made is irreversible, you want to live but it is too late: The pinnacle of depression in that last instant – without a way back to tell others.
It lies because it wants to feed from that last moment of extreme desperation where your Will to live reveals the truth: it will take you there, and feed from the energy of desperation.
Life is precious.
Your family, your friends, your acquaintances, and even the nearest preacher of whatever faith you chose to believe in (or believed in at one time) will help you fight the lies this pernicious invader whispers eighty six thousand four hundred seconds a day.
Learning never stops. As babies we start by learning our environment and eventually walking and talking. As we age we learn, we add experience and we add tools to our own mental belt. Just like alcoholics learn to take each day one at a time; those with depression have the same challenge every day.
Build your arsenal; defeat the invader by believing the truth, recognizing its lies, and finding new tools every day so that tomorrow you can say again: Today, this minute, I chose not to believe the lies of depressive thoughts in my own mind.
Respectfully Submitted in memory of Robin Williams (63) and Lauren Bacall (89)