Most of my life I have alternated from a real extrovert to needing long periods of time alone, primarily to decompress. It's not easy being a high energy guy :-) Between sports and some gaming hobbies I could spend days just ignoring the rest of the world. During times of depression I would lose any interest in those things. Sports would be a chore to watch or keep up with, my games would lose all appeal and at best I could start one, play a few minutes then I had to stop. As a side note- I shared my diagnosis with two very sub sets of special online gaming friends and their support has been overwhelming. Must be easier when you don't actually know someone. You can engage and disengage on your terms. I would extol the evils of our new online world but that would be hypocritical as I am using a blog and twitter to try and get my message out. Well, my story anyway....the message is something I hope to discover along the way.
A few distinctions between real depression and clinical depression, as I understand them, are that clinical depression is more immobilizing. You can't "shake it off." Also, most of us process our pain and trauma during sleep. The brain literally passes it from one side to the other. People who can't or don't have that process tend to get those moments "Stuck" in their brain. I imagine each person experiences these symptoms a little differently. The worst part for me is the inability to not be able to "shake it off" and being stuck in that moment.
The guilt has been very difficult to shake. Daily I hear affirmation that my embracing this is a big piece of getting better...whatever that may ultimately look like. Some readily acknowledge that there is no cure or set course of treatment, others have more of a "You'll get better" mentality. That's hard to hear because every piece of literature I have read says you really won't. You can learn to manage the symptoms but you can't guarantee you won't explode again if the stars align a certain way. It all begins with perception and that is the broken piece in my brain. At 47 1/2 I am not sure what all can effectively be done. While I acknowledge people telling me its good that I am so cognitive of my condition, in such a short time...it makes it all that more painful as I can cognitively see the pain and damage I have done to myself and others. Not seeing that would make things a little easier I fear.
I've always been supportive of my friends and eagerly sought the same. My wife and my father are two of those people. Some days though I have to walk down the road by myself. That's a real love/hate feeling. It's easy to slip into my comfort zone of isolation, no one understands me, etc...and at the same time I hate feeling like NO ONE understands me.
I've given a lot of thought lately to the (lack of primarily) reaction of people I know and love that I have shared this story with. This creates a real duality within me. On one hand its painful and as I keep telling my story it becomes more and more apparent that the stigma of this disease is unbelievable and it reinforces that the US is light years away from effectively dealing with these serious issues. On the other hand it fuels my drive to educate and enlighten people. We can't continue to let tragedies be the driving force behind this conversation, we need to get out ahead of it. It's not a comfortable conversation but it has to happen.
It's part of my disease to even think that I can effectively start any sort of educational programs. That's the grandiosity. On the flip side most of my life has been accomplishing things others said I couldn't do. I don't pretend to think there are more than a few people who see this...if anyone at all. Maybe one day it will serve as something someone looks back on and watches this story unfold...in real time.
I seriously have begun to wonder if my approach is right here. I have tweeted a lot of people and that's new and kind of fun, but with 140 characters it can be hard to get someones attention. I think I need to figure out a better approach. It really isn't that I am that special as much as I hope to bring awareness and education for others. I need to stay focused though on the fact that I believe this is God's story and I am just the leading character. His message is more important than mine. He is such a big part of my recovery that to not keep him in the forefront begins to discredit my story as without him I have no doubt I would not be here today.
When I feel depressed one of my favorite things to do is to YouTube music. Some days its all christian music. Between one song reminding me of another and the list on the side that has similar songs...I can spend hours listening and watching videos. Much healthier than the alternative. I am very skilled at writing a lot and never answering the question...but again folks this is written in real time. I don't have the answers, I know it hurts.
I do wonder what my life will represent. What is God's purpose for me? How can I best help others?
What hope is there for me to lead a productive life? There are few songs in my life that capture me...word for word...it starts
Do you wonder why you have to,
Feel the things that hurt you,
If there's a God who loves you,
Where is He now?