Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Dusting Off An Old Story Of Depression

My life is a vessel of pure joy and true peace that no words can do justice.  Each day is precious and meaningful, a true miracle and blessing.  Yet it was not always so.  One year of my life was lost forever.  A mere 25 years ago, I was held hostage by a depression so deep, so dark and unyielding, that I would daily meditate on the various ways to end my pain by ending my life.  I took to writing then editing "last letters" to each individual family member as they were all so different and affected my life in such selective ways.  

No one had an inkling of what I was trying to endure.  I surrendered my hours to the beast known as inaction and could scarce get from one day into the next.  With no motivation to do anything, everyday common obligations began to slip away.  It began when I quit my job, gave my car to my brother, and moved back to my parents' house into a small room used for storeage.  I think I was trying to bury myself.  Keeping my presence quiet and rare, I wanted only to be left alone to nurse my psychic wounds without having to interact with a living soul.  Everyone was busy living their lives while I was swimming in the deep end of that luxurious ocean called self-pity.  The ultimate luxury.  We hold our hurts close and guard them against all who try to loosen us from the perverse pleasure of feeling nothing.  I watched from my window as each day would open and close, without ever going out to breathe it, feel it, live it.  Everything was painful.   

Time held no meaning for me.  I would follow my insomnia with days of unnatural sleep with unremembered dreams, and nights of fully alert anguish.  I wrote prose, wrote music, wrote suicide letters, but did little else.  By the time I finally got help, a full year had passed into nothingness, completed wasted.  The Doctor called it clinical depression and prescribed a suitable Rx.  It has never returned in such full force, yet I sense that lurking darkness everytime a remembered slight causes psychic hurt that enjoins self-pity.  Thereby comes depression.    

How many easy blue mornings did I assign to an unnatural sleep?  Why ever did a day seem a chore to live out?  Would that the Almighty forgive just one day of wasted time, just one day I left untainted by action, even by thought ...

I was too busy minding the torment of my soul.  Like some novice rider trying to control a thoroughbred, I looked after my moods and sorrows with a tense, fearful eye.  If I pulled the reins too tight, the pain would beg a bloody outlet, like razor blades and shapr knives.  Should I ease up on these phantoms, my heart would lose its keen awareness of itself, and I might never know the perverse joy of discovering a new hurt.  I was a mess, and I knew it.  

Not a living soul surrounding me gave thought to my troubling meditations, for they knew only that I seemed to float through each day, there but not really there; seeing but not noticing; hearing but not understanding the language.  I spoke to my heart, and through real blood and pain I was finding a strange surcease in the music of these raptures.  I had so much more than I needed, and far too much time to misuse everything I was given.  Feeling was becoming lost to me, I could no longer grasp the concept of joy, of love.  Numb with pain.      

Can one re-love once they've enjoined hate to their passions?  For I recall how I truly hated the whole world for allowing a human being to come to such a place where they no longer wished to live.  Later, I discovered it was of course myself I was truly hating, and it took time and patience to relearn how to see myself as a worthy soul, a deserving person, someone who can be cared about.  Resentments, jealousies, confrontations, and the effrontery of knowing you've not been noticed all conspired to deepen each facet of my depression. 

Would that some sweet unlikely love come into my life then, cleaving itself to my heart, it could've held sway against the passion of such self-pity as would startle the likes of Nero, the patron of self-pity. Yes, perhaps love could've saved that year of waste, saved my soul from such exquisite pain.  But back then, I was fully intent on dying.  By sheer will if necessary.

No one could outstay my ability to render rough in my thoughts all the myriad ways to die with meaning.  I would show the world, yes show them all or so I believed, hence I despised my cowardice at not being able to find death at my own hand.  Every concept alluded me in their lack of drama.  Yet somewhere inside I felt a laughing indifference as if my spirit knew it was not to be extinguished, not yet and not by me.  

I look back on this now, having lived a very full, meaningful, God-blessed and happy caring life, and the depth of self-loathing I must've once felt shocks me into incredulity.  If I hadn't kept a diary of sorts and wrote my prose, alot of the immediacy of feeling would've been lost.  Yet I'm grateful I put all that pain to paper so that every now and again I can look into the heart of that time and realize what a unique gift each moment truly is.  I spent so much energy keeping the world at bay, for true misery tolerates no company, I believe.  

Once I was able to extinguish the dark using the light of life, I changed my profession of Paralegal, went to school for training and became a certified lab technician, helping people find answers to either the sickness of a loved one, or tracking the etymology of an unnatural death.  I was fascinated by the forensic pathology of human behaviors so in my off hours, I immersed my mind in education every way imaginable.  Sometimes just making slides all day could be boring, but it was life, and I was alive, so I had a respondibility to live it, however it most pleased me - which was to please others if I could.  

Clinical depression is a monster, can last several years I'm told, causes other physical ailments, and most of all robs a person of their motivation to live, to be at peace, to find joy in everyday things.  Once it was over my Doctor refered to it as a temporary chemical imbalance and was convinced it would never return.  It never has in that same fierce way, yet when I listen to people who suffer from such a devastating horror I can empathize with that pain, that emptiness and loss, and I've discovered that simply by listening one is able to ease their darkness a bit.  When I became physically disabled a bit, still trying to escape the wheelchair, I was told, "Well at least you still have your legs - others do not."  This was supposed to make me feel better?  I never felt more blessed knowing others were far worse!  What an odd thing to say.    

I can only add that, the next time you feel sad about something, imagine not being able to feel anything at all.         

         

20 comments:

treesrgreen78 said...

I know from whence you come, I have walked a few miles in your shoes.  Once we come out of the darkness and find the light it is surprising to learn what a  beautiful world we can make it if we use our strength, courage and knowledge of the darkness we just left behind.  I lost a year of my life through no fault of my own.  The physical and emotional abuse I suffered at the hands of an ex husband and the ensuing quest for him to completley destroy me took me to my darkness.  My love of my son and the fierce intestinal fortitude within me, inherited from my Mom who was our famiies rock, brought me out of that darkness and although we all go through our times of trouble.  Like you Luddie I too have found that when you find peace with God and with one's self you see the light all around and oh it is so beautiful to be here.

TreesRGreen78

madcobug said...

I remember going through a state of depression when I was young. All I wanted to do was sleep.24/24. I didn't know what was it was called of course. I should have had some help instead I married and did stay in a depressed state for years. My children were probably my lifeline. I am no longer in that marriage. Thank God. Thanks for commenting in my journal. Helen

barbpinion said...

I have struggled with depression for most of my life. THe day I was able to put it behind me was the sunniest day of my life. Depression is a stealer of joy and hope, making it impossible for a man to do anything except exist, and simply exisiting is no life at all.
Hugs,
Barb- http://journals.aol.com/barbpinion/HEYLETSTALK

xxroxymamaxx said...

I personally haven't suffered this way except for a very short postpartem after giving birth but I know so many who have and are.  Thanks for sharing this!  Hugs and GBU, Shelly

sugarsweet056 said...

I have fought depression off & on for years. Take meds for it at times when it's bad. Thank God I do not suffer with it continuously or severly.
Just stopping in to say hello & wish you a nice upcoming weekend.
Blessings dear.
:) Sugar

luddie343 said...

I wasn't sure I should write about this part of my life, but reading your comments I'm very glad I did.  It's always surprising to me how many people suffer in silence with depression and somehow find a way to challenge their lives and smile on - how brave!  Love to all, Cathy

siennastarr said...

About 30 years ago, when I was in my early 20's I began to suffer with horrible panic attacks, which eventually led to a year long bout of agoraphobia.  It was the most horrible time in my life.  I was depressed, anxious, and full of fear.  I never wanted to commit suicide though... I just wanted those horrible panic attacks to go away.  A nurse that lived across the street from me gave me a book about panic attacks (it was something that was rarely spoken about in the 70's, so I didn't know if something was physically wrong with me or not), and I read it and discovered that nearly all of my symptoms were in that book.  It had guidelines of what to do to get over it, and I followed them to a T.  I managed to overcome the agorphobia, although the panic attacks still follow me to this day, although not as severe as back then.
Our minds are powerful things, that's for sure.  
Thanks for sharing your story....  I'm sure there are more people out there than not, that have suffered with some form of depresssion/anxiety at some point in their lives.

Jackie
http://journals.aol.com/siennastarr/Waitingtoexhale/

pennietoonz said...

I know many people who have had a problem with depression. This was a very heartfelt entry. I`m so happy to hear that you`re feeling better. Thank God!!
Penny
http://journals.aol.com/pennietoonz/PennysPlace

sassydee50 said...

Dear One~I am (almost) ;-)))) speechless! I often say, I thank God for every day I am not depressed. I envy your one year length of time, yet simultaneously I thank God for you that you only had to endure it one year. I want more than anything to say it is all behind me, but it's not. Maybe I should write a poem "Ode to hard to treat"...I love the line "I was swimming in the deep end of that luxurious ocean called self-pity." Dutch and I will throw a short pity party every now and then, but mostly my challenge is biochemical. Your absolutely correct that on those depressed days it is mere exisitence and that is not life! Imagine my frustration when I have had many more days inside it than inside my real self every year from 19 to 52. Now anyone reading this will want to throw a pity party for me! haha...One year out of the last 10 or so I had 5 months dep. free; that was an absolute new record for my adult life. The odds seem to be with me as I am getting older; perhaps after the hormonal storm of menapause is over I willl start to be able to accumulate more days again. As for the present, June has been mostly dep. and May was mostly not...thanks for the inspiration. I may expose some of my old journal writing, as well! Blessings, Sassy ;-)

http://journals.aol.com/sassydee50/SassysWORD

slimhawk said...

I see it all around me, depression, no desire to live or take part in life.  I just came out of such a horrible broken heart, I thought I would die but the Lord heard my pleas for help and healed my heart.  I wonder if it's just the enemy trying to take our focus off of the Lord and onto things that we can not change??
I pray that you can find peace and joy in your heart. Happines, well, I think it's a relative term and very rare.  God bless you.

libragem007 said...

Hi Catherine,
Gem here..sent over by SassyDee. I want to let you know what a very profounding entry this is. Coming out and telling all. You've put into words what it is like to be truly depressed...how one feels "being there."  No one can explain it better than those who'd been there and done that. A person who means well, cannot say "I understand" unless that person experienced what it is like to be in that mood--a very dark mood.
Not only I'm glad to meet you through your journal, I'm also glad to read you're here to share your experience.

journally yours,
Gem :-)
http://journals.aol.com/libragem007/JournallyYours

lurkynat said...

Dear Cathy,
After I read your very touching enry I found myself reading about Jonas ina book called "the Crown and the Cross" by Frank Slaughter. In it he says that Jonas felt so warm and so loved by the light of the star that showed us where Christs would eb born that he began praying!
i really appreciate this entry Cathy! It shows how sad we can all be; and yet your life shows us how your faith ahs picke dup your spirits and left you to guide us! Lots of love,natalie

cyndygee said...

Cathy,

Your Beautiful Mind . . .   it makes me so sad to think of you and all the wonderful ideas YOU would have over the course of an entire year . . .  and lost.

On the other hand, you're STILL here to inspire, entertain, and to teach us all.

I thank God for that ~ for YOU ARE SUCH AN INSPIRATION!!!

Cyndy

crazykajungurl said...

hi cathy....thanks so much for stopping by.....your words were beautiful. you might  want to pursue writing as career choice.....the way you string words together and pull from deep inside. alot of people will be attracted by your complete honesty and sincerity...thank you again....hope to hear from u soon...tell sassy hi for me



http://journals.aol.com/busy-/

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