A Note on Depression

I’m not well.

I haven’t been for some time.

After years of knowing something hasn’t been ‘right’, but being unwilling to admit it to myself let alone anyone else, I’m finally at the point where I need to take ownership of this illness I’m living with and have lived with for so long.

I live with depression. I am depressed. I am a depressive. Say it how you like.

Depression is something I know very little about. Considering that I’ve lived with this illness for so long that’s certainly an interesting statement to make, it’s appropriate though. Only now recognizing the personal need to figure out the cause of my illness and how I can better cope have I started to try and understand this illness and the individualized form of it I live with.

Some days are tougher than others. Some easier.

I’ve woken up in the past wanting to no longer be alive. Thankfully, on more occasions, I’ve woken up grateful to be alive. Today is one of those days.

I’ve always thought that there was something actually wrong with me; that I was lazy, had a short attention span, was afraid of commitment and big life decisions, or wasn’t actually excited about anything, ever. I now realize that while many of these things may be true from time-to-time, they are in no way form who I am; they are symptoms of, while at the same time forming the core of, my illness. Considering this illness is mine, and it is part of who I am, this is often the hardest thing to admit.

For too long I’ve tried to cope by running away, jumping from thing-to-thing, focusing on others rather than myself, drinking, often acting in self-destructive ways, and taking on too many commitments to provide a distraction from the illness I refused to face.

The list of ineffective coping mechanisms I’ve tried in the past goes on and on. And while any of these coping mechanisms have worked on a temporary basis they have not and cannot stop the cycle I continually find myself stuck within.

I’m at the point where I need to do better.
For myself.

Aside from my illness, which is all-encompassing, I’m happier today than I have been in a long time.
I truthfully know and feel this.

My personal relationships are healthier than they have been for as long as I can remember and I’m working with amazing people at an organization I respect and am proud to say I work at.

I don’t want to lose either of these things, like I have so many times in the past. I don’t want to run away. I don’t want to push them away. I can’t. Not now. Not anymore.

I’ve dialled back. I’m still dialling back.

I’ve taken on a great deal over the past to keep myself busy and distracted from my illness. In the community, in personal and professional endeavorers, I’ve been committed to supporting others, for their benefit, while looking for the associated by-product; distraction from my illness, my own personal albeit temporary benefit.

I regret none of this.

But now I need to focus on me because if I don’t I won’t get better, I can’t get better, and I won’t be able to move forward.

Over the past year I’ve dropped commitments I’ve had, left, right and centre. New and long lasting commitments I’ve had to withdraw myself from to deal with life changing events. Starting my life again, in many respects, took and continues to take all of the energy I have and I would harm, fail or disappoint any of my commitments had I remained a part of them.

Now, in finally admitting that I’m not well, I’m not sure what else I can continue to do, or new things I can take on, at the expense of myself.

Taking the time to dial back in personal, professional and community endeavours, but not to become a recluse or disappear altogether, I plan on spending the time, attention and energy I have to discover, develop and implement ways to bring myself to a better place.

Things such as this are hard, embarrassing (although I know they shouldn’t be) and terrifying, all at the same time.

I’m terrified. I’m embarrassed. I’m struggling.
But, I’m determined this time.

Some will see it as a plea for attention, but those who know me best understand that this is the furthest from that.

In the past I refused to admit to myself I had an illness, let alone anyone else, and as a result I wasn’t held accountable to anyone, especially myself. This pattern has to stop.

I’ve admitted to myself that I have an illness as the first step in holding myself accountable. I’ve told those closest to me, family and friends, so I’m accountable to them as they are integral people in my life and resources in my coping.

I’m writing this here so I can no longer hide behind past excuses, lies, misunderstanding, or any false expressions I’ve hidden behind for the majority of my adult life. I’m writing this here to be wholly accountable.

This is a beginning of sorts; of recovery, of life, of better days.