Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. – James 1:2-3.
When it comes to depression there is a difference in feeling good and feeling as if you are on solid ground. Recently I realized that for years I’ve had plenty of times where I felt good, and thought I was cured, but I can’t remember a time when I felt I was on stable ground. I’ve always been standing on a pile of shifting sand trying to keep my footing.
Through group therapy I have learned breathing exercises and radical acceptance. I have come to understand that despite what my mind tells me I am not alone in my struggle. I have relearned that physical activity and forest bathing are essential, but they are not the linchpin that will keep me even keel. Writing and putting my work out there is also vitally important. It is cathartic for me to work through my writing process. It does not matter if five or five hundred people read my work; the point is that I am taking my experience out of the drawer. To write brings me great joy and I hope it will help someone to not feel so alone. It helps me feel not so alone.
In one-on-one therapy I have learned about my different parts. We have all kinds of different parts in us who want to be heard. Some of mine are protectors, some of them are cowering in the corners and some are just nasty. Those really traumatic parts that I thought I had dealt with years ago? I’ve discovered they were just pushed down as far as they would go, and I’ve been building off of them ever since. That does not make for a stable foundation
In this new stability I’ve found a new confidence in the way I think and feel. My feelings no longer run the show, not everyday anyway. There are still hard days, days I want to give up completely. The big change is that I can acknowledge and then work with these thoughts. I have come to understand that the events of my past are building blocks in who I am, but they do not define me. I am at peace with my feelings whatever they may be. I no longer hate myself because of them. I may not like some of the thoughts, feelings or actions I have, but I don’t beat myself up for having them. This is a big step for me. I’ve spent a lifetime kicking the snot out of myself. The things I say to myself and the frequency with which I say them would be grounds for a restraining order if I were to say them to another human being.
Depression is not something I or anyone can simply turn off. It is not something that goes away. It is just that sometimes I lead the tango with it and sometimes it leads me. I can never go off my pills, I plan to be in therapy for the foreseeable future–I’m ok with that. I’ve never been ashamed that I’ve needed therapy or medication. I think everyone should go to therapy; its an amazing learning experience. Just because I am doing all of these things does not mean that I will not stumble and somedays I’ll fall. There will be some dark times but just like following Jesus, there has never been a promise of a stress-free life of leisure.