It is that time again. Get out your new calendar's because it is a brand new year. Dare we say it aloud? It is going to be 2010. It seems we should be living in a bad sci-fi novel. Where are the robot maids and hover cars I had expected? And why can't we teleport or beam ourselves to other places? Or at least have the capability to beam used car salesmen and politicians to some distant planet. But I digress. This is supposed to be a serious post.
I suppose I could make this some how to list for beating depression. But I will spare you that agony. Besides I don't have any such list. I do not consider myself someone who has "recovered" from depression. Depression is like an old buddy of mine who I wish would just leave quietly. And sometimes it does for awhile. Yet for me, my depression has always returned to visit during my various life stages. I suffered from depression as a teen, and as a young adult and I suffer from it now in my middle age years. I fully suspect that I will suffer from depression as an old lady. One might say that this is a depressing prediction. But I have a different perspective on this and I will tell you why.
The biggest life lesson I have learned over the years is about acceptance. Some people may mistakenly think of acceptance as a giving in or a cop out. Yet in my view, acceptance is the definition of true emotional strength and fortitude. For me, acceptance means that you allow yourself to be vulnerable and have the faith that you are going to survive. While I do not see myself as someone who has "conquered" depression I do see myself as a great survivor. After all these years I have learned how to face the raging winds of my mood disorder and live to see the next day. Let's face it; there will always be bad times. No matter if you suffer from depression or not, everyone will have their share of pain. The bad stuff is always right around the corner. You can choose to spend your life in fear of this or you can learn to live despite this fact. What is more, it is also possible to not only survive but to also feel joy and gratitude for what you do have.
I hate to burst anyone's bubble here but there is no therapy, no treatment, and certainly no pill which will totally eradicate your depression (in my humble opinion). It is my strong belief borne out of my years of experience in dealing with my own black beast, that if you want to lessen your suffering from depression you are going to have to work very hard. No therapist or therapeutic method is going to help you if you don't make some attempt to help yourself. Likewise antidepressants might take the edge off and help you to not travel to the lowest depths. But a pill won't get you a job or fix your relationships or change your luck. You are responsible for these things. And in case some of you are already fuming, this is not one of those pick up yourself from your boot straps, tough love, clichés. I am telling you this from dealing with my own difficult life experiences. It just isn't going to work if you don't invest some energy into your emotional health.
Is this investment of energy into emotional wellness worth it? In my opinion it is worth every minute you spend. Your sanity and your emotional well being is at the core of everything else in your world. How you feel affects everything in your life from your career, your relationships, your parenting and your goals for the future. Emotional wellness isn't something anyone can give to you. I am sure many of us would bestow happiness on others if that were possible. But it is a losing game to try. The only person who can make you happy is you. And likewise, every individual is responsible for their own happiness.
In this past year I have witnessed some amazing things here on My Depression Connection. I have seen what true community can do. People who are suffering come out of their emotional fortress to help someone else who is also in pain. Connections and bonds are formed where there once was a void. Beyond the scope of bullet lists of how to be cheerful when you aren't, there is true support here from real people who have come to care about one another. This is what I had hoped for when I took on the role of community leader here. I wanted to give you something real that you could count upon. I wanted to give you hope.
I am going to leave you with some song lyrics which are especially meaningful to me. Imagine that they are being said or sung to you. Every time I hear this song it makes me cry, but a good cry. Remember that whatever you are going through, you are not alone. There is always someone who cares. Reach out and accept help.
This song is from The Blues Traveler and is called "Just Wait"
"If ever you are feeling like you're tired
And all your uphill struggles leave you headed downhill
If you realize your wildest dreams can hurt you
And your appetite for pain has drinken its fill
I ask of you a very simple question
Did you think for one minute that you were alone
And is your suffering a privilege you share only
Or did you think that everybody else was completely at home
And it will come
If you think I'm giving up on you you're crazy
And if you think I don't love you well then you're just wrong
In time you might take to feeling better
Time is the beauty the road be it long
I know that now you feel no consolation
But maybe if I told you and informed you out loud
I say this without fear of hesitation
I can honestly tell you that you make me proud
And it will come
If anything I might have said now has helped you
If anything I might have just said helps you just carry on
Your rise uphill may no longer seem a struggle
And your appetite for pain may all but be gone
I hope for you and cannot stop at hoping
Until that smile has once again returned to you face
There's no such thing as a failure who keeps trying
Coasting to the bottom is the only disgrace
And it will come