Thursday, August 6, 2015

No Reason At All

One of the worst things about dealing with severe depression is how often it just makes no sense. It is bad enough when stress or anxiety trigger a reaction. These reactions might be more severe than most people can understand, but you can at least see what started them. There are days, though, when you might have nothing more pressing going on than sitting on the couch reading a book when, out of the blue, everything turns black. The weight of the world comes crashing down around your ears with no warning and no apparent reason. These are days that can be extra challenging because what doesn’t have a regular trigger often doesn’t have a regular solution. Worse, you can’t explain what you don’t understand, and that’s a whole different level of frustration.

I call these the Black Moods. Unfortunately, there have been times when I have had to call them Black Days. I don’t think they’re as common these days as they once were, and I couldn’t tell you why that might be, but they do still happen. I have no real reason to believe that they will ever stop happening.

Well that sounded bleak.

It’s not bleak, though. Not really. It happens. Sometimes it rains, and sometimes it rains when you wanted to go to the park. I can’t think of any better way to explain it than that. We all like to believe that we are in absolute control of our own minds, but we’re really not. We are certainly the driving force, but it’s not absolute. When was the last time you decided to laugh, or cry, or to perform some other spontaneous emotional outburst? That’s a trick question. There’s a hint in the word “spontaneous”. We decide the path and we walk the path, but sometimes it rains.

Still, the fact of the matter is that many people who suffer from depression have these episodes that they cannot explain. They have all of the fun and games of the usual depressive episodes, with an enormous side order of anxiety and fear added in for flavor. They feel like an invader has taken over your mind, and you’re just watching from somewhere in the background. You might be right in the middle of some ordinary, mundane task - fixing dinner, counting change, or just getting dressed for the day - and suddenly freeze, fighting back tears and waves of nausea. It’s all useless, hopeless, and entirely meaningless, so why keep doing it? Why keep doing anything? Why bother? Why not stop pretending and just let it all end?

Yes, it can get that severe that quickly and that out of nowhere. If you have never experienced something like that, you are very fortunate. If you have experienced it, I’m sorry, and I understand. You are not alone. No matter how it might feel at the time, you are not alone.

Let me say that again, so that it sinks in: You are not alone.

That is one of the main reasons I am writing this blog. It’s cathartic for me, because it lets me talk through some things that have needed the talking, but, believe it or not, that is almost secondary. At best it only ties for the main reason. I have spent twenty to thirty years now, depending on how you count and where you start, learning to work through my own issues, and I have had some really amazing successes. I have always wanted to share those successes, but I have struggled with how to do that. Part of the problem was that, by the time I got to a point where I could share, I had forgotten at least some of what I wanted to share. The things I had learned had become habit and I no longer thought about them, so I had forgotten how to describe them. I do that. If I drive the same route long enough, I’ll forget how to tell you the directions. It becomes something I do, rather than something I know. That’s great, in practice. It’s almost exactly the goal, to be honest. Getting to the point where you no longer have to work at the things that help you because they now come so naturally to you is a very positive result, but it can make passing on that knowledge a little challenging.

Now, though, I am having to go back to the beginning. I am not starting over, by any means, but I am reviewing where I started, and, in doing so, I’m finding some of the words again. Sometimes it’s like trying to describe the taste of yellow, but that’s what writers do. We find ways to get you to see things that aren’t in front of you or don’t exist in any conventional sense.

I’m sure no guru of any kind. I don’t have any great secret insights or anything of that sort, but I know what it’s like to hurt, both with and without visible cause, and I know what it’s like to survive when you don’t actually believe that’s going to happen. If sharing my stories can be of any help to anyone who is going through what I have gone through - or anything similar to what I have gone through, or anything that can be understood by what I went through - then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, and that helps me too. I believe in a better world, and I believe that it is within our power to make a better world. This is me helping to build that better world.

I said that I didn’t know why I have less Black Moods now, but maybe I do know. I’m not alone either, you see. There are many people helping to build that better world, and I think maybe we’re having an impact. We don’t always see it, just like we don’t always see what’s causing the Black Moods, but it’s there, and I think it - the better world, the good bits - is growing. One person at a time can spread faster than you think, and that’s a pretty good reason to keep going.

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