My Secret Demon

I’m breaking my silence about my demon so that I can hopefully loosen its grip on my life.

I have depression.

There, I said it. Gulp! (Long pause, while I consider if this is a good idea or not…)

My head is spinning with so much stuff that I just want to pretend we’re sitting together on my couch and you’re letting me vent unrelentingly. Can we pretend that for a minute?

Here’s the skinny. I’ve had depression since I was about 12. I didn’t know it until I was in my early 20’s, but my bouts of isolation, deep sadness and suicidal thoughts weren’t normal. I had this weird belief that it was God’s way of punishing me for being ‘bad’ somehow, and so I accepted it. In my early recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism (going on 24 years now), one of my sponsors suggested that I might have ‘depression’ and should see a doctor. I actually thought she was wrong at the time, but doctor I saw agreed with her. I started on a medication and things improved. I wish I could say “And I lived happily ever after”, but that’s not how the story goes. I won’t go into long, drawn out details since we aren’t really on my couch and it’s not a very good story anyhow.

Bottom line: I’ve had good years and bad. In the bad times, I can’t remember ever feeling good. In the good times, I can’t imagine how I ever got depressed.

When I’m in a bout of depression l can’t think straight and I feel like I’m “broken” somehow. I constantly feel ashamed for having this ugly “weakness”. I tell myself that I should be stronger and just shake it off, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t. I’m afraid having depression will be used against me. I think that you must see me how I see myself and that ain’t good! There’s no way in hell I’m lovable. I isolate and berate myself. Obviously, it’s not a pretty scene in my head during these times. Logically (one of my guiding words for 2012,) I know the above thinking is crap, but in the throes of my depression, you can’t convince me of that.

I chose ‘exercise’ in the first month of my 12 in 12 game and so far, I have 11 successful days under my belt! This choice had more to do with treating my depression than losing weight or gaining fitness. I’m trying to accept this as an illness and self-treat by disciplining my mind, eating better and exercising. I’m also starting to take vitamin D and Omega 3. I’m scared of the side effects and expense of the various antidepressant medications, but I might just need to go that route again as well. The biggest driving force is my daughter and my desire to be her best mother. I’m missing out on a living a fulfilling life and that’s just not acceptable to me today.

So, there. I’ve said it. I have depression. I’ve been sick with it for a while now, and I would really like to be well again.

I want to reach new heights this year and I realize I can’t do it with this “secret” weighing me down. I got sober by asking for support and sharing my experiences openly. That’s the one “treatment” I haven’t tried for depression because of my shame around it. It’s time to try it out.


14 thoughts on “My Secret Demon

  1. Been battling anxiety and depression for a good portion of my adult life too. Grew up with 2 parents who loved me but were drunk a good portion of the time and didn’t quite know how to deal with their sensitive little one. A combination of counseling, medication, exercise and spiritual practice and Al-Anon keep me on track, but every once I have a down time (I’m coming out of one now), where something from the presents sets off some kind of remembrance of past difficulties. I think my Higher Power gives me these times so I can heal my past and move forward freer than I was before. HP doesn’t ever give me more than what I can handle (I know that now) and I know that I am always better for going through these times. As Kahlil Gibran says “the sorrow carves out a deeper well for the joy”. Also seems to be an avenue toward creative expression for me. I love you Sandra. We haven’t seen each other for many years but I always know you to be a kindred spirit. Glad you are breaking the silence!

  2. After posting this, I became really present to how many amazing, truly exceptional people I have had the fortune to know during the course of my life. I’m a lucky woman. The crummy part of depression is that it clouds my ability to see that fact and really enjoy the people I love. I’m excited to beat this illness so I can let the love in again. I may feel ‘crazy’, but your support shows me you love me anyway! 🙂 Thank you!

  3. I second what humaninrecovery posted “what you wrote, could have come from me”. The paragraph that begins with “When I’m in a bout of depression….” captures the essence of what we experience to a T.

    I believe that we follow the cadence of repression, suppression and then depression. In our youth, we enjoy the survival gift of repression. we could be enduring a cruel existence from abuse or abandonment, yet as children we have a survival instinct to mute our environment and chose to be in and see a happy place. We need to stay linked to those that provide for us.

    As we mature into adulthood, we become conscious of that voice in our head. Those tapes that seem to play constantly. Through interaction with others, we learn that that happy place of our youth, may not have been such a happy place after all. But out of fear, filtered happy memories and a measure of shame that we carry, we suppress those feelings. When we began to lose the suppression battle and anxiety and self-esteem battles occur more often, we then start to self-medicate and numb out.

    As we can no longer suppress, the infection has spread and is visible, or so we think, then depression becomes our life companion. Until we are able to become completely honest and seek the root cause of our depression, with complete clarity, we will continue to looping cycle of depression.

    I believe the arrival of depression is Gods work. God is whittling away on you (and that chisel can be sharp and painful) trying to get your attention. And He will keep on whittling in the hope that we stand up and find the courage within ourselves to journey to the origin of our troubles and extinguish that flame.

    That has been my experience. I have made that journey of self discovery, often a scary trip, and I have arrived at a place that I never knew was possible. A peaceful place where that constant negative self talk has been silenced. It is my hope a prayer that you find that place too!

    • I’ve participated in some fantastic therapeutic counseling and support groups and waded through my “issues”, so to speak. I had a few, to say the least. I feel great about my level of self knowledge, but this knowledge has never helped me get free of depression. I’m searching for the root cause, like you mentioned, but I don’t think it lies in my past. I’m looking at what I’m doing today that may be the source. Am I doing something to cause this overall malaise and depression? I’m like a drug-sniffing dog on duty. I want to find it and flush it out. Thanks for your wonderful post. I appreciate you taking the time to listen and respond with your experience. I’ve enjoyed your blog as well!

      • Hey, I’m glad that you enjoyed my blog. It certainly is My Story. And I know that there are many other individual stories and life experiences that lie at the root cause of other peoples depression. I am enlightened to that fact by people that share on my blog and send me emails.

        In early recovery, one of those AA Oracles gave me some good advice when my my compass was all haywire and I was unsure of what to do and how to do it. He said that you just have to ask yourself the question “Is what I’m doing, or about to do, moving me forward spiritually or is it moving me backwards?” And then added “Could you share honestly with your children, the choices and decisions that you made or are about to make?”. A lot of times that answer was no! So, I kept on practicing his guidance, got better at doing things honestly but definitely not perfectly. Forgave myself when I made an imperfect choice, steered clear of making selfish choices, stopped acting out of spite and resentment, and the bondage of depression began to ease up. Now, over time and having learned much about myself and what trappings I have to be mindful of, I’ve been running depression free for longer and longer periods.

  4. Pingback: Depression, Motivation and the Drive to Keep Going | Finding Passion For Life: My Back Surgery Recovery Blog

  5. San:
    I wish I were there to give you a big hug, I know your Aunt Nancy would. I am so very proud of you. You are a very strong willed person and will find a way to adjust to whatever life throws you. There are a lot of people who love you very much just always remember that. We are a phone call away!
    Miss you, and love you.

    • I love you Mae. Thank you. I miss you and your amazing family so much! I’ve gotten to see my Aunt Nancy in a few dreams lately. It’s been so special. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish for her to be here. She was the first person that didn’t let me hide from her. That sounds so silly. But, every time I’d emerge from having my head stuck in the sand for days or months, she’d be there with open arms. Shoot, sometimes she’d just grab me by the hair and pull my head out! lol She was my rock. She was a lot of peoples rock, for that matter, and I miss her deeply.
      The last thing she said to me as she squeezed my hand was to “have a happy life”. I know she worried about me. I strive to be for my daughter what she was for me – a rock.
      It probably won’t be this year, but I need to re-connect with you all in Vegas. It was so special to me to get to be there with your family and it was such a great trip to take with my aunt. I want to keep that alive.
      Again, I love you and thank you for the hug across the miles. I will see you soon I hope.

  6. Hello,

    I found this post by writing a similar one on my own depression. (It was in the related articles part) I am not sure what I want to say, I have no advice to offer.
    I see so many people around me with the ability to pull out of depressive episodes I find myself asking what is wrong with me? You seem to be able to maintain some positivity even within your depression, HOW?? Even when something good happens I am waiting for the bad thing to follow… Some days I can be ambivalent about the whole thing, I just don’t care, but others it eats me up. I mean, my life is not half as bad as it could be, it is not half as good as it could be either, but it isn’t all bad. But I always feel bad.
    Any advice for a twenty-something attempting to get a handle on her emotions? I am going to leave a link at the bottom of this message, not because I want you to “check out my blog!” but because if you do have some advice or something it may help to have some background. I am so sorry to be approaching you when you have your own problem to deal with but I sense strength and wisdom in your words… Two things I could do with a bit (Ha, a lot) more of.
    I hope you have found your sunshine.
    – S.

    • I’ve previously read your blog from start to finish, so no need to ask me “check it out”! I was moved and inspired by your tenacity and strength. Just because you don’t ‘feel’ strong, or don’t ‘think’ you’re strong, doesn’t mean you aren’t! During depression, one’s thoughts and emotions are generally liars. It’s taking me some seriously hard work, brain push ups of sorts, to strengthen the logical side of my brain (if such a side exists).
      I don’t know when the syndrome of “waiting for the other shoe to drop” ends. I’m experiencing it now. I’ve been having some really great days since I shared my challenge and since starting Vitamin D and Omega 3. I’m thinking clearer and have way less sadness. But, I almost get struck with panic when I think it’s only temporary. I don’t want to go back!! You said you can get ambivalent, and I can too. It’s easier and less uncertain to numb out and sort of give up. It’s so exhausting to keep pushing in the face of feelings of total hopelessness. Today, I am experiencing the payoff of persistence though. You have tough circumstances but they will pass into something new. You’ll get through it. Keep sharing your experience and let’s root each other on, if you’re willing.

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