Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Not-such-bullshit around depression

  There are some ideas around helping with depression that just stink of bullshit, or that seem like they can't apply, or otherwise seemed worthy of being blown off. Over the years I've had to accept that some of that thinking isn't very conducive to my well being.

          1. You can't argue yourself out of needing help. For a long time I convinced myself that seeing a shrink was pointless in my case. What I usually hear is that it "doesn't make you weak." That's not the problem though, at least it wasn't for me. I'd convinced myself that I was intelligent and self-observant, so what could they offer me? But here's the thing: intelligence and reflection doesn't go very far when the thinking is distorted, and that thinking generally doesn't feel distorted at the time. It's not about intelligence. Therapy offers help identifying and dealing with those distortions. What I still struggle with is finding a therapist who is good at their job, but in theory...

          2. Sometimes, yeah, you need to pull yourself up. You can't just will yourself out of depression, but the simple things you can will yourself to do can have an impact. It's way to easy to dwell in depression and ignore the fact that you could probably make yourself at least go hug a puppy, or step out to the patio. At least file down the edge a little. And then from there maybe you can go for a walk or do some writing... It doesn't solve the problem. But the more you do, the more accomplished you're able to feel and the more happy-making things you do, the better things are. Letting yourself stay in the doldrums does nothing good, as tempting as it may be.

          3. Smile! As fucking annoying as it is when I'm told this by other people (usually strangers who make it sound like I owe them a smile), well, smiling is a good thing. You smile, your brain thinks you must be happy. There's chemical feedback. In a mirror, it gives a mental image of you as a happier person. And of course, people like people who are happy, and social isolation does nothing to help depression. Faking is a good skill on all fronts, at least a little bit.
              I'm still trying to figure out where the happy balance point is where I'm owning my faults (not being ashamed) without letting them consume me.

           4. Self-love/belief isn't pure bull. If you expect to fail, you don't honestly try. You can't honestly push past depression if part of you thinks you deserve it (I suspect this may be where "you just like being depressed"-type accusations come from). This is the piece where I largely want to call "bullshit." How the fuck am I supposed to love myself as I am?? I hate myself for a reason. Many, actually. And yet...
             I can understand in an academic sense how this is a decent hypothesis. I would be a different person if I believed that I could do what I set my mind to. I would probably be more loving if I could believe that I was lovable in return. We have a tendency to prove ourselves right when we say we can or can't do something. Maybe the person I am right now doesn't deserve to be loved, or to be happy. Maybe. But it doesn't matter. Let's try testing the hypothesis that the version of me that loves and believes in herself is a better person, and then I can better handle the flaws that remain.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Just a story....

          The problem with using the past to predict the future is that our lives are not controlled experiments, and there are a lot of variables. There are lessons to be learned, to be sure, but we can't always predict responses and failures. People change, environments change, specific circumstances change. The most important of these is that people can change and grow.

            I've fallen more than I'd like. Fibromyalgia and drama opened the door for depression to come back, and I've not managed to beat it back again. Not entirely. I've always been mystified by it coming and going, but I think maybe there is one component I can pin down. One, or perhaps two that I see as intertwined, which I'd been told in classes for years which I always scoffed at... locus of control.

             The idea is that people who believe that things just happen to them - aka, have an external locus of control - are more prone to depression (side note: how does this work with religion being good for mood?). I always put this down, at least as applying to me, because I know damn well that the power is mostly in my hands, I just thought my hands to weak to use it. But... maybe that's not really a good argument against, because it comes out the same. If I'm not using the power that I have, then yeah, life is given free reign to push me around.

               I don't remember triggers. What I do remember is that my depression started easing last time around when I realized that being in school was a choice. That all I really had to do was make it through the semester, and then I'd be free to do whatever would be best for me, and ultimately that meant a semester off, and dance classes, and working on health....

                And then there was fatigue and illness that'd be predicted to be chronic - even more so than depression at this point - and would have me likely on antidepressants the rest of my life and still not at 100%. Then there was drama that made me feel resigned to isolation, to the point that I went through a phase of covering up my face to hide myself. I felt control and hope being taken away... and the depression flared up.

                 And I stopped doing very much to try to take control.

               I've had a problem rationalizing optimism and self love because, well, look at how much I fail! And I don't think, objectively, it's much better. Life sucks, and for the most part it sucks for reasons under my control. But it doesn't matter.

             Maybe this sounds egotistical. But let's say I don't deserve to be happy, and pursue my dreams, and go off and connect with people and generally be and feel awesome. Just for the sake of argument, because I know some part of me will try to argue that point.

            "If you are giving up on your dream…not only are you taking that gift away from yourself – you’re taking that gift away from the world.

Don’t you dare take your gift away from me." -
Veronica Varlow

             I don't know if I have anything special to bring to the world, but it doesn't sit right with me to not find out. What does seem evident is that I am a better person when I am kind to myself, and hopeful, and letting myself be who I am instead of worrying constantly about fitting in. When I believe, I actually put in effort instead of - at best - putting in half-hearted attempts. 

             I owe it to the people around me to become the person I'd be if I learned to love myself and believe that I am powerful.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Vulnerable heart

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        I believe in love.

        I believe in hope, and second chances, and forgiveness. I believe in the power of communication to heal, or at least help cleanse the wound. I believe in keeping my heart on my sleeve.

        I believe in fighting, and standing up, and putting effort into relationships. I believe that sometimes I have to accept that most of the effort may come from me. I believe that sometimes people don't believe as I do, and it takes them longer to open up, and that's okay.

        I believe that anyone who can't see me for who I am has no business telling me how I should feel about myself, and no business controlling my heart. I believe that sometimes I must cut ties.

       I believe that love and hope can rescue and restore you from any scope.

      I believe in staying open, even as I walk away with wounded heart. I believe that there is no pain worth closing up over. I believe, in spite of everything, that the best path I can take is to believe.