A few weeks ago Robin Williams was everywhere you looked.
People were desperate for details; to find the one thing that assured them that his situation was so different from theirs that they are safe; that it could never be them.
But if you suffer from depression, the suicide of such a brilliant, successful, individual; part of our lives for so many years and responsible for so many laughs; looks like a leak in your boat.
A friend asked me, "Ok but no one knows what the future holds. Could he not see that?"
For someone drowning in the dark spiral of depression, there is no future. There is only now. There is only nothing. The boat is gone. You are under.
It is not about your spouse or your friends or your kids or career or fans or dogs or anything. When the darkness squeezes it is all about now. And now is nothing. It is bleak and empty and so dark, you cannot see a bottom, or edges or surface ---just darkness.
"Sometimes I get overwhelmed easily," another friend began. "It's all a matter of keeping perspective".
Depression is the absence of perspective. It is now. A never ending now.
Anxiety is the absence of perspective. It is now. A never ending now.
You can only think of one way to make it stop.
Desperately trying to plug the leaks --- reaching into my toolkit---assembled from so many therapy sessions, drugs, outpatient and inpatient programs; each leak I patch only creates another. I am scrambling.
What I forgot was that I am not "cured". I am managing my condition, much like I manage my asthma. It will be with me for life and I must not surrender---I must keep bailing.
1. Have Support
I have established a Facebook Group where former outpatients from my adult day treatment program can reach out when they are having a bad day. Sometimes, just knowing you are not alone; that someone gets you without having to be you or know your entire life story helps.
I also have long time friends who will challenge me on my thinking when I start to run amuck. This is invaluable as they are not in the throws of it. They are the lifeline to perspective.
2. Seek Professional Help
I continue to see my psychiatrist for chemical therapy. I don't see it being a short term thing. I am getting to "ok" with that.
I continue to see my therapist, where insurance allows. I am one of the lucky few who have insurance coverage for five visits to my therapist a year. Even those who recognize their need for therapy can't afford it. How many lives could be saved if there was a better support network available?
I see my family doctor. I am blessed. She always has time for me. She believes in the mind body connection. She does not dismiss me. She sent me to the hospital. She saved my life.
I see my naturopath. My soul and spirit need nourishment on this journey. We talk, I get acupuncture, we talk about the food, body, mind connection. My family doctor knows about her and we all work together. She soothes my soul. Again, my insurance covers most of my visits.
3. Sooth Yourself
I have taken up yoga/Pilates/Tai Chi. I meditate. I see my Sista Perfectionista. I take online classes that help me focus on me. I adopt rescue dogs. I work hard to surround myself with meaningful things.
I hug my kids. I tell people I love them. I work hard to be Feel, to be Brave, to Trust, go with the Flow and Receive.
It's a long list. It is hard work. And the minute I turn my back on it, the darkness spills through the cracks.
There is no respite.
There are amazing days. There are dark days.
But I cling to the fact that there IS a tomorrow and it WILL be different. Maybe better, maybe worse, but it is a new day and anything could happen.
So I manage it.
One. Day. At. A. Time.
With the promise that tomorrow offers something else.