Sunday, October 25, 2015

There's A Hole In The Sky

As most of you know, I live with clinical depression. I do what I can to keep the dark days — and nights — at bay. Medication helps, but needs to be adjusted over time. Without medication, I couldn't survive. And sometimes I feel like I have to justify that to others.

"Oh, just change your attitude," they'll say.

"I just pull myself by my bootstraps and put a smile on my face," some tell me.

"Just spend more time at the gym."

Sorry, it doesn't work that way. Attitude helps. A smile helps. Exercise helps. But they don't cure clinical depression.

With the help of San Geraldo, I manage to keep the worst bouts from returning, simply by being aware and getting help when I/we see the patterns returning. What returns are the voices in my head. They tell me I'm not good enough (for what, I don't know). I'm not handsome enough (for my life as a fashion model?), I'm not smart enough, kind enough, rich enough, confident enough, talented enough, humble enough.

On my good days, none of that even matters.

On my bad days, I'm simply not enough.

Lately, I'm not finding myself interesting enough, which explains my recent dearth of blog posts.

But, finally, rather than trying vainly to be enough for you (OK, for myself), I figured it was time to just tell you what's been going on in my head.

The walks have helped. Usually about 11 km (8 miles) in 2-1/2 to 3 hours, with a day off between. Monday, it's back to the gym. Really. No excuses.

This is what I saw on the walk home Friday...







And I wanna fly, too...

36 comments:

  1. I think some people think folks that suffer from depression are just having a 'not so good' day and so they offer that kind of advice.

    Maybe they could ask if there's anything they could do to help ... or just say they understand.

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    1. Bob:
      It's difficult for some people to understand it if they've never experienced it. Most people are, if not empathetic, at least very sympathetic. Not that I'm looking for sympathy. ANYWAY... all's well in my small mind today (or at least not too bad)!

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  2. Depression isn't something you can snap out of easily, as you obviously know. I'm glad you have San Geraldo to help you through the bad times.

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    1. Stephen:
      San Geraldo has experienced his own challenges which make him very empathetic. Besides he IS a saint after all.

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  3. I'm one of the few people in my family who does not suffer from clinical depression, and I witnessed serious cases during my time in the ministry. I also saw the great difference in people when they got the right meds. Take care of your good self, in every way!

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    1. Michael:
      Many in my larger extended family apparently deal with different kinds of issues. But we've never shared much (or at least no one has ever shared with me). I'm doing fine. (If I'm talking about it, it's not so bad.) Thanks!

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  4. Bob, above, is quite right. I used to be one of those "Oh, snap out of it!" people, which now makes me ashamed to recall. It took doing voluntary work with others like yourself to give me an insight into what they/you go through - though of course I'll never truly know it through my own experience as I'm thankfully not one who has this 'condition'. So, from this distance, I can only offer my sympathies and understanding for what some days you have to go through. I hope that in some small way that itself may be just a little reassuring.

    - and that cloud formation is quite uncanny, as well as being a bit unnerving.

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    1. Ray:
      Nothing to be ashamed of in your past. If you never experience it first hand you have no way of understanding it until you have friends who have or, like yourself, start working with people in need. And, yes, your comments and friendship here are reassuring in much more than just a small way.

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  5. I can see why the walks might help. Depression is nothing to be taken lightly and certainly nothing that you can snap out of. You are lucky to have a spouse that understands that.

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    1. Cheapchick:
      And we just got back from the gym! Things are getting better. Again...

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  6. All I can say is that I understand -- as much as a person who doesn't personally suffer from depression -- and I wish with all my little soul, for better days soon for you. You are a great guy!

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    1. Judy:
      If I'm talking about it here, I'm doing OK. You are wonderful!

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  7. Mitchell take care and I don't believe i the hole in sky

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    1. Gosia:
      Thanks. That hole in the sky was real. I wonder what it led to.

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  8. That hole couldn't have come at a better time Mitchell. Hole in the sky? Hole in the concrete cloud more like.

    It's so weird, and rude, when people offer that kind of 'advice'... would they tell a cancer patient that? So what if it's 'just' a cancer of the psyche that doesn't leave visible marks.

    My sweet friend, I know it won't be a cure, but you are always and forever enough, just as you are, wherever in your psyche you are. Give San G a hug and thank him for me, k?

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    1. Jacqueline:
      I've received more understanding that "buck yourself up" comments over the years. Yeah I'm enough alright! But thanks. And I'm always happy to give San Geraldo a hug and thanks from you and from me.

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  9. I had a brother who had the "not good enough" lines down pat when we were children. He wasn't diagnosed with clinical depression until after both of our parents had died, he had gone through a miserable divorce, and a few suicide attempts. He had finally gotten the right Doctor and the right balance of medicine when he died by choking.

    You are a beautiful soul and are quite blessed that you have a wonderful life with San Geraldo and that you recognize the symptoms and act upon them. So many people do not.

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    1. Page:
      I am so sorry to read about your brother. I was fortunate at the age of 32 to finally be diagnosed and get medication. I remember waking up one day about 2-1/2 weeks into the meds and hardly recognised myself. It was the first time in my adult life that I could ever remember waking up with a smile on my face. Sending you hugs and gratitude for your kind words and for your brother.

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  10. Mitch,

    I'm not sure my bouts with depression are of the clinical order, but they sure sound a lot like you describe. I've had some bad reactions to meds for anxiety and depression, so choose to do without. Any prolonged stress can be disastrous for me. Winter is the worse. Anger, depression, guilt like a merry go round.

    Growing up I thought I was ugly, then after coming out at 36, I began to feel tolerably OK looking. Now in my later 60s I'm feeling pretty ugly again. I want to look handsomer and younger for my husband, Leon who is 14 years cuter than me. I don't know where I'd be without him. Probably in a locked ward somewhere, if they even have such places now.

    When I volunteer at the senior center teaching computer classes, none of it matters. No one there is judging others on their looks. We joke and laugh and just enjoy the class.

    I do check in on your blog now and then and I appreciate it when you check in and comment on mine. But, like you, I don't post much anymore. It's like I have nothing much to say about anything. Not to discourage you, but I think it's funny: There is a Demotivation Poster (love them) that says "BLOGGING: Never before have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few." For me there is less and less to say.

    We have an impending move and I am looking forward to the change. But they say that where ever you go there you are. (But the people there don't know that, do they?)
    Be strong. Hug San Geraldo.

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    1. Frank:
      From what you write on your blog, I know you can understand. I've gone through a number of meds. Some didn't help and others had side-effects that made any improvement not worth it. But I can't go without something. I always enjoy reading what you have to say and hope you find the inspiration and enjoy your own writing. I'm looking forward vicariously to your move. Yep, wherever you go, there you are. One of my favourite lines. I've spent a lifetime running away to something better. Sometimes it worked! You be strong, too. And, YOUR pep talk for the day: Carlos if 14 years YOUNGER, while you've had 14 extra years to perfect your cuteness.

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  11. As you may know my mother had to live with depression all her life. Most of that time she would not take meds. I feel if she had, she would have had a 'easier' time of it.
    Mitchell, you are so smart to share this with us. That in itself takes so much of the stigma attached to depression off your shoulders.
    To be honest I didn't notice that you missed' a blog post here and there and in the scheme of things it is totally up to you when you post. If not up for it, hey, we are totally fine with that. You have a wonderful 'family' of followers here who are here to support you.......along with that great fella of yours!!
    Great photos of that sky you had. I look at it as it was trying its best to open up and let the sun shine in.
    Your posts are always full of sunshine and joy and your great sense of humour. I look forward to them whenever you post.
    Big hugs from us to you.

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    1. Jim:
      I remember you talking about your mother's issues. It was hard for me over the years to accept that I needed meds to live well. I was stunned the first time I was on meds. I met someone I had never known in my life. It's amazing how depression changes everything. And having known only that for as far back as I could remember, I didn't really know myself at all. I am so grateful for this group of friends I have! Thank you as always!

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  12. I've struggled with depression for years. Good on you for speaking up. :)

    I get quite angry with people who say things like that, eg cheer up, harden up, pull your socks up, etc. Would they say the same to a diabetic? Oh, just tell your pancreas to behave, that will fix things! Would they tell someone who received an organ transplant to stop taking their anti rejection drugs? Oh, you don't need those drugs, just repeat positive mantras about accepting this organ as your own, you'll be fine.

    I'm always the person on the outing or in the workplace who has all the over the counter drugs anyone could need on me, from headache tablets to antihistamines and I am always the person you only have to ask and I will help you out with the drug you presently need, unless you happened to state your opinion that drugs are not required for depression. :)

    A person who says those kinds of things better not EVER ask me for a headache tablet. One such person did, once, and they were met with a sickly sweet "Oh, you don't need drugs for that. Just tell your brain to behave. Pull your socks up, cheer up, harden up and drink a cup of concrete. I wouldn't want to be the person responsible for suggesting you take drugs when this headache is giving you such an opportunity for personal growth and to appreciate the headache free times in your near future." It was almost verbatim the speech they had given to someone who had said they were struggling with depression.

    There are certainly non-drug things one can do to help their depression improve however it is a fact of chemistry that sometimes the brain needs chemical help. :)

    I have a friend whose son received a kidney, and she is dreading the teenage rebellion years where he might want to stop taking those drugs. If anyone suggested to him that he should, I am certain she would rip their head off with her fingernails.

    I will be keeping a good thought for you. :)

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    1. Snoskred:
      Thank you so much for your message and for sharing your own experience. I LOVE your response to "Headache"! I wish I had the smarts to respond like that. Perfect. Also, your comment about that stupid pancreas. Priceless. I'm going to remember that for later use. Hope you're doing well. Hope your friend's son surprises her by never questioning his need for meds.

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  13. What a weird cloud formation, and well photographed.

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    1. Andrew:
      Wasn't that fascinating? I was so surprised when I looked up and saw that. And the light was perfect for photos. Oddly, not one other person in my vicinity took any pictures of it. (I wondered if I was imagining the whole thing. So I'm glad you see it, too!)

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  14. Just yesterday, I listened to Sarah Silverman on NPR (Fresh Air) talking about her clinical depression. It's definitely not something that can be waved away with "cheer up" and it's unbelievable that there are still those who don't understand how paralyzing it can be without treatment (and even with treatment until the right balance is struck).

    I wish I had a cure. I'd send it to you straight away, my friend. I'm always so grateful to have found you in this wide world, and am always so grateful to see pictures of what you've seen on your walks while I've been sleeping across the ocean.

    Love to you and the great San Geraldo!

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    1. Michelle:
      And what's really bizarre is, if there were a complete cure, I think I might be afraid to take it. Great stormy seas and colors this morning while you slept. I'll be sharing those soon. Love back to you!

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  15. :) A smile is just a colon with a close parentheses symbol. If only life were that simple.

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    1. Walt the Fourth:
      OK. I had a passing thought (very quickly passing). Were you talking about the large colon or the small? But before I could complete the thought, I understood. Much nicer than picturing a smile as a colon.

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  16. I am no expert on depression at all. I know I've witnessed a few people over my years that now that I think about it were depressed. These people were cousins and aunts. I'm always saying to my inner self "oh that's why s/he did what they did, how could I have been so blind"!? These experiences have helped me understand others and hopefully I've grown to show them compassion and love. Mitch, being perfect ain't all it's cracked up to be. I tell Jim this from time to time ~ His need to control which he learned at very early age still hampers his decision-making from time to time. I've tried to be a controller too but just don't have the energy and strength any more. So, if you don't make the energy to put out a post ~ well, maybe consider that as a normal reaction and that we will not condemn you. For the passed year my posts and reading others has diminished considerably because I just don't have the energy. Cheers and keep strong my perfect (winks) friend!!

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    1. Ron:
      I had a friend at university who was told she had haemorrhoids. She told me, "So much for wanting to be perfect. Now I'm not even a perfect asshole."

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  17. Big Hugs to you, my friend, for sharing the depth of your feelings. Love sent from my coast to yours.

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    1. Jo:
      So good to see you here. Hope you're doing well!

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  18. Actually.. Looking at the sky... the clouds resemble a brain... and it looks like the bad thoughts are dissipating... and can be relaxing watching them go way!...
    Love you cuz.! <3.. and know the apple doesn't fall far from the branch on the tree! .. (yes, that would be me) I've suppressed my whole life... had meds for a short 2 years.... but somehow,,, I manage because there is no alternative,,,

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    1. Sheree:
      I have lots more stories to tell on the subject. As for me, I couldn't manage without the meds. I'm sorry you have to deal with mental health issues, as well, but I'm glad you're able to keep plugging along and display such gratitude and joy with friends and family!

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