I do not choose to live like this. Much like my asthma, I have been dealing with depression and anxiety since my 20's. Most times I am very productive--some times I need medication and help. This is one of those times and it is not a choice, a joke, a ruse, a "bad day/week/month",
I am lucky though. I have an accepting family and a couple of good friends who work hard to understand or who often feel the same things as I do and wonder what makes the difference between them and me. I can have real conversations with them and have invited them to read this as it might help with understanding what this is like.
We all come to depression through different paths. Some people I have met have had a long time battle with substance abuse and are depressed because of the loss of family, friends and jobs. Others are depressed because of a single incident --some tragic occurrence--like the loss of a loved one--- that has rocked them to their core and some people feel like life just got too loud and overwhelming and they need to shut it all out...
The common theme I hear though is:"I just want the old me back."
That is not me.
My therapist often tells me that the old me had some fantastic traits that allowed me to preserve in tough times, helped me move into a leadership position at my new career and raise two kids. In fact, the last few years at work had resulted in an "outstanding" performance review due to how I had managed change, improved processes, managed capital projects all during a time of senior management shuffles retirements and a steady stream of people exiting the organization. My boss had never given an outstanding review --in his life---to anyone. I pride myself at being organized, able to multi-task, proactive, hardworking, flexible, a mentor, coach, leader, motivator and creative problem solver. These traits help me be a good mom too!
Sounds like it might not be a bad thing to go back to...
But it came at a cost. I try to have everything completely in control at all time to manage. If anything happens that is outside of the parameters of what I expect, the loss of control is crippling. A birthday party my son wants to attend, a flare up in my asthma, car needing service, a dentist appointment. unexpected meeting, having to return a phone call to my insurance company-- these things cause so much anxiety and stress it is hard to describe. If my son had a birthday party at 2:00PM on a Saturday--then in my mind--Saturday is a write off --stress and worry before and during and a bit after is all consuming and I am unable to think of, much less do anything else. What if I get lost on the way there are we are late? What if my son has something with peanuts in it? (he carries epi pens). We should get a gift, but what if he has one? Is a gift card in a card not right--it has to be the right thing? (I usually shop for the right gift for days--right card--right wrapping paper--then pick up a gift card at the last minute because I couldn't find the right thing.) Should I stay at the party to watch my son? What if no other parents stay? What if my son gets teased because I stay? What should I say to the parents--what will we talk about?
You can image my stress level at trying to control a birthday party environment---I actually could not attend my son's bowling party this year as it was too overwhelming. That was about 3 days before I was hospitalized.
A quote by Wayne Dyer is helpful to read...over and over....
"It makes no sense to worry about things you have no control over because there's nothing you can do about them, and why worry about things you do control? The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized."
This is not a fun way to live. The way I was came at too high a cost. But I don't yet know who I can be without those things---or how to not be overwhelmed by them.