“God delays, but doesn’t forget.” — Spanish Proverb
Each month, I find it more difficult to meet my expenses until the end of the month, on my fixed income. As each month’s end grows closer and I find myself without enough funds for essentials like food and medications, I find myself sinking into a dark hole of depression and anxiety. I worry that I’ll become severely ill, as happened last year, spending months in the hospital. In today’s still lingering economic downturn, it’s frustrating for anyone who has lost a job or met financial setbacks. Those of us facing financial difficulty suddenly feel curtailed, with the rhythm of our lives changed in a way we never anticipated. But the Universe slows us down for a reason.
There can be gifts in adversity. They can give us some much-needed time alone, time to think. Being alone gives us the chance to find ourselves in a new way. We may be surprised to find some previously unknown inner resources. A period of waiting through adversity can also turn us to our Higher Power, God, or the Universe when the solace we need is beyond the capacity of people to give.
It’s challenging to be able to do nothing when the world tells us that we must take action. When action isn’t possible, accepting the circumstances of our lives enables us to experience the value of being, and not doing.
- Prayer and the Spiritual Journey (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Suicidal Thoughts: Strength to Continue and Endure (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Feeling is the Inner Life (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
“The terrible beast that no one may understand, came to my side, and put down his head in love.” – Louise Rogan
There are times when it seems easier to give in to despair than to fight my way out of it. I’m learning that the trick is to catch myself before I become so depressed that I’m incapable of acting. For starters, I can ask, “What am I feeling? Am I angry, sad, resentful or feeling sorry for myself?” There usually is real pain beneath my despair – pain that must be expressed so that I can let go of it.
I can also take good care of myself. I can eat right, get some exercise, get out of the house more and seek kind and understanding people. Talking through what’s bothering me and asking for what I need are good antidotes to despair. Most of all, I can reach out for the consolation and strength of the Universe.
I may feel unworthy or hopeless and too tired to even care. I may believe that nothing matters. But things do matter. I matter. Life matters. I don’t have to keep struggling with despair and depression alone. I am grateful for this spark of hope within me that can never die. Things will get better.
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” – Prov. 17:22
When I am gloomy and melancholy I seem to walk around in a black cloud. I find that I attract other disheartened people to me and soon it’s as if we are marching along in a funeral procession.
To be permanently gloomy seems an insult to life. After all, there are many people who are worse off than I am, and yet they manage to find the energy and love to reach out and express joy. Why then, should I coexist in the gloomy minority?
Often, I find that my thoughts dictate my mood. Most vividly, I recall the gloom that appeared when I used to do a great deal of acting out, leading a double life with half of it rooted in fear and shame. It’s no wonder that I was “down”, and that I sometimes still carry this habit and attitude with me now, along my path of personal and spiritual growth.
Part of my growth is in the regaining of a sense of happiness that reaches into the deepest part of me. I can hear myself laugh and learn to play. What a tonic it is, to be happy! Joy is a vital part of life and I want to feel it deep inside me and bring to my face a smile!
- Joe Robinson: The Secret Key to Happiness (huffingtonpost.com)
- Personal Growth (retrohousewifegoesgreen.com)
- “It Really Is Just So Much Easier To Be Who You Are.” (happiness-project.com)
It was the “Mother of all Depressions.” For four days I was unable to get out of bed. I couldn’t eat. I didn’t care about anything. I wanted to die. Really; I found myself hating my life so much that I began to think putting an end to it was the answer. A tape with the obscene mantra, “I hate my life, I hate my life, I hate my life” began to play in my mind. The last time I felt similarly was one dreadful July 4th five years ago, when I found myself being admitted to an Adult Psychiatric Unit.
Experiences can sometimes begin to feel familiar to that time five years ago. Questions from family or friends about drug use, an uncontrollable anxiety over issues that later seem to end up as the small and minor challenges of a life in hyper drive. Family members and friends have no idea how to handle the evil, bitchy side that comes with depression. We fight, scream, cry and make threats. The choices I make when depressed are often not at all healthy and incongruent with physical or emotional well-being. Sometimes, the thoughts inside my head secretly struggle with the ways close friends have changed and seemingly moved on with their life. I may feel my life, in comparison to theirs, isn’t moving.
When I’m depressed, I want something; a pill, a hit of dope; SOMETHING that will stop my ability to feel. I will listen to recorded pipe organ music for hours and hours on end. The music of Bach, played on a pipe organ usually relaxes me. Those in my close inner circle have involved themselves with attempts to get me to do something to pull myself out of that dark evil place and back into the light. With each attempt I often hand them some bullshit line like, “Sure, I’ll get up and take the dogs for a nice long walk” or, “Yeah, and I’ll eat something.” What did I actually do? I went back to bed, but only after laying some feigned guilt trip about how much I may have missed them lately and how terrible I feel for the things I do that drives them away.
My pathetic actions give them yet another glimpse of how capable I am of beating the fucking shit out of myself for the ways I have hurt them in the past. Sometimes, family and friends threaten to close our relationships. “I have forgiven you and you should take a look at what you need to do to forgive yourself” a close friend once said. When this friend said that to me I began to know how familiar my interactions with them could feel. It seems I can be a cycling, emotional train wreck seeking solutions or fixes to my problems, from them.
Gradually, I have found myself coming around, getting back into the light of life and feeling better. A combination of things has worked. I began years ago writing or journaling about thoughts and feelings I experience, being as honest as I possibly can be with myself, in my personal journal. This process of sharing has become so comfortable to me, that I often write these same thoughts and feelings in a blog that anyone can read online. I read from many books that have sustained me through some tough times of painful personal growth. I pray.
From loved ones, I have received many gifts: words, though sometimes harsh, have raised my awareness of my behaviors. Love and “big momma type” hugs are a tactile way of feeling alive. Time spent sharing experiences or in quiet contemplation with other loved one’s travelling on a similar path of personal growth brings connectedness, and dilutes feelings of isolation. The last gift from loved ones has been their understanding and patience.
Tools learned in earlier cycles of depression are known to work and avert another “Mother of all Depressions”:
- Heightened anxiety is a precursor to thoughts that are not totally based on reality
- Understand self forgiveness
- Accept the way people change and move through life; we all must do the same
- Do not compare your life with anyone else’s
- Be grateful for the loved ones who have stayed by your side and reach out to at least one of them early on in any future cycle of depression
- We can learn to re-frame situations and experiences which may trigger negative thinking
- None of us are ever alone. We will never be alone
I read a blog that inspired me to begin sharing my journey away from depression. I have linked to it below. It was blogged by “Hope Despite Depression” at blogspot and is titled “Grateful for Depression?” http://hopedespitedepression.blogspot.com/2010/11/grateful-for-depresson.html
May we never allow depression to consume ourselves as much as it has in the past, ever again. May we begin to see our life experiences in different ways.
Human misery must somewhere have a stop:
There is no wind that always blows a storm.
It’s easy to think we’ll always be in the same boat, that our characters are fixed, our habits unalterable. “This is who I am. You can take me or leave me.” I know that when I find myself saying similar words to myself or thinking in this way, I often mean, “When you know who I really am, you will leave me.” No one is predestined to be a certain person or to behave in a particular way.
No one stops growing and changing either. We have to have faith in the immense possibilities of movement and growth. Life itself is more than winds and storms. It can be calm, changeable, hot, dry, mellow, promising, gloomy, bright, serene and even phenomenal!
We can match life’s immense diversity of moods. We are a part of life; part of all this wondrous change and diversity and if we are not afraid to let ourselves go a bit, we can be as variable and flexible as life itself.
- Letter: My Life in Therapy (nytimes.com)
- Friends share personal details to strengthen relationships in United States, but not in Japan, study finds (sciencedaily.com)
- If-then plans help protect us from the ‘to hell with it’ effect (bps-research-digest.blogspot.com)
But What About the Agony that Results Without it?
“An old error is always more popular than a new truth” –German Proverb
I often feel uncomfortable with the “new” because it causes me to reach out and expand my vision. This may at times, be painful and I don’t like the pain that comes with change.
My previous unhealthy behaviors and actions seemed cozy and gave me a curious kind of comfort and reassurance. I turned to them when I was lonely or anxious or hopeless. I was used to them and didn’t need to do much to keep on going in the same old ways. I’m feeling the need to turn to some of those old ways today, due to pressures, stress and disconnection from my family and some friends.
But today, suddenly I saw the error of my old ways. Discovery, disgrace, previous suits for damages, my partner’s incarcerations, my resultant isolation, despair, the loss of two previous partners, the contempt of our friends – are all the consequences of the coziness of those old ways. Yes, I may have awakened to find that my past behaviors ruined my life. I once again reach out to the hard process of change.
Making difficult changes is painful, but that pain is far preferable to the agony caused by the inevitable outcome of a return to the past behaviors that come from addiction and neglect of my bipolar disorder. I am reaching and embracing the new even though it is sometimes painful for a while.
- Change is Painful (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Damn Heels Hurt! When In Pain, Who Knows Best Where it Hurts? (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Four Steps to Help Heal a Broken Heart (socyberty.com)