Depression is a Sneaky Jerk
I have lived my entire life around mental illness. My mother has been fighting a long term battle with PTSD that has manifested in a variety of ways. As a small child my mother would go from extreme happiness to extreme anger in what felt like a split second. As a teenager when my mom started to finally get mental health therapy I saw her struggle with a life time of memories coming back at once. I saw hallucinations and the utter terror of wading through a life time of pain. I became the child parent taking care of things around the house to ease the pain I saw my mother experiencing. The other side of that is that I also saw redemption when my mother graduated law school. I saw her start her own law practice and take control of her own life.
Still with a lifetime of experience, a business in the mental health industry and a wife who is a highly skilled mental health therapist, my own depression snuck up on me. I knew that I felt bogged down. At first I thought it was just the tailwind of my wife and I accomplishing a major life goal. I mean what could compare to scratching one of our biggest goals off of our bucket list?
But the reality was that all of the signs were there. Every single text book sign of depression was prevalent in my everyday life. My businesses were suffering, my relationship was suffering and I felt absolutely no desire to do anything but sleep. Then my niece attempted suicide for the second time and everything stopped. Worrying about someone and loving someone through suicide attempts changes something in you. During a run one day something in me snapped. I realized how depressed I really was. Even more so I realized that I owed it to my niece to take care of me. I started trying to make some small changes to help myself. I signed up to work study at a yoga studio and joined a women’s critique group. Today was the first day that I felt any real relief. It was also my first day of both Yoga and the critique group. My depression isn’t magically gone and there are a lot of pieces to the story that I did not write about including a very hard conversation with my wife. However for the first time in months I do feel a little bit of hope.
If there is anything that I have learned from my own experience and watching my mothers experience is that depression doesn’t have to be permanent. I can also help myself when I am healthy by putting systems into place that will be available to me when I am in a slump. The critique group started long before I really needed it and so did reaching out to the Yoga studio. So here I am today reaching out, doing the things that need to be done so that when I need they are there.