Ruminations and Recriminations

It goes a little something like this…

I don’t feel good.I think I may be sick.I should stay home from work.

Who wants to be around me anyway?I’m pathetic.I’m a failure.I’m divorced.I’m crazy.I run men off.Who would want me?No one can love me.I don’t even love me.

I could have done better.I should have done this/that differently.I feel so guilty/ashamed because…I will never be forgiven.

If people really knew what I was thinking, they wouldn’t love me.If people knew the real me, they would never want to be around me.If I were a better friend/employee/lover/sister/daughter I wouldn’t be alone/depressed/anxious/afraid.

What if I never have children?Does that make me a failure?Isn’t that the one thing I’m supposed to do as a woman?Who am I kidding? I couldn’t take care of another human being if I wanted to.

I’m going to be fired.My work isn’t good enough.Did I make the right choice?What should I have done differently?Why is this so hard?

I’m not good enough.I’m not worth it.I’m inherently bad.I’m irrevocably broken. There’s no hope…

What was God thinking?Is there anything good here?What’s the point?What if I ended it all?Would anyone care?Then people would know that I am really a coward.

God help me.

These are actual thoughts that have plagued me. They start off slow, without warning. They’re amorphous and at times, unidentifiable. Truth be told, if you aren’t paying attention, they can creep up on you. One minute you’re fine. The next minute, you are so sad, or even worse, you are so numb. Before you know it, you are literally paralyzed by your thoughts and incapable of emerging from the darkest of places.

When you can actually feel something, the worst feelings take over – despair, hopelessness, guilt, shame. When you’re incapable of feeling, you just know you’re bad, worthless, forgotten, abandoned. The feelings and numbness take you to dark places, make you feel like your life isn’t worth living.

They don’t seem that bad. I mean, they’re just….thoughts, right?

WRONG.

gandhi_thoughts_postcard

Rumination is the act of focusing on the things that are distressing. Recrimination is a retaliatory accusation, in this case against yourself. Ruminating and recriminating have been my downfall and are signature markers of when my depression is at its worst.

Our thoughts have the power to be life-giving or life-taking. For those of us who struggle with depression, our thoughts are things we must pay attention to and fight on a daily basis. Guilt, shame and inadequacy can literally kill us by causing us to believe that we are worthless. Many people end their lives. While I’ve had suicidal thoughts, I’ve never taken steps to kill myself. I’m not sure why…

For me, the best things in combating these thoughts are medication, therapy, exercise, and spirituality. I’ll write more about each of these later but suffice it to say, without medication (Prozac and Xanax), therapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on a REGULAR basis to be exact), exercise (participating in a variety of dance styles including Pole dancing – more on the benefits of this later) and spirituality (deepening my faith life through my Christian tradition and embracing Buddhism as a way of life) I would NOT be where I am today.

My prayer is that your thoughts breathe life into you rather than take life from you.

My prayer is that if you struggle with ruminating and recriminating, that you seek help and support.

My prayer is that you are able to reclaim the goodness within and never doubt who you are, what you can do or your value ever again.

If you or someone you know are contemplating suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

For more information about treatment options, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Visit Monday’s blog posting, which may provide some support through some very powerful lyrics – Music Mondays: Shine the Light by Sugarland.

When your thoughts threaten to take you under, please remember this one thing: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Love,

Me

Fear of Silence

I drove home the other night in complete silence. I worked a 16 hour shift and left my job at midnight. It had been a difficult week but before I knew it, it was time to leave. Walking to my car I noticed how cold and dark it was outside. We were told to anticipate freezing temperatures and I planned accordingly, wearing my winter coat and gloves. The sky was clear and I couldn’t see the moon. It was very quiet.

I never drive in silence. I’m normally listening to NPR, my favorite Pandora station or the top 25 tunes on my iPod. On this night, however, something within me needed silence.

I don’t like to sit with myself – with my thoughts and my feelings. The silence scares me but on this night I took a chance.

I know my medication is working when I can be aware of my thoughts but not be overrun by my thoughts. I can reflect on my day. I can feel the sadness and loneliness. I can grieve for the people I’ve lost. I can FEEL without spiraling into the depths of despair. My time in silence tonight reminded me that I have nothing to fear.

I think I need these moments of silence more often, not only to be in tune with myself but to listen for the still, small voice within that reminds me not to be afraid. Maybe one day you’ll be able to take some time to just listen.

Love,
Me

Music Mondays: Alright by STARBOARDERS

Today’s song holds special meaning for me for a variety of reasons.

The first reason is that the title, “Alright”, is a reminder to me in that I am not alone and that one day, everything will be alright.

The second reason is that it is written and performed by some of my best friends. Starboarders is comprised of Matt Simpkins, Bill Porter and Greg LaRose, three men that I was introduced to almost three years ago. These guys have not only become like family, they are instrumental in providing support and encouragement in my darkest moments.

The third reason that I love this song and this band is that they have managed to do something that very few people ever achieve – embrace their gifts and make a difference in people’s lives. This band writes excellent music that is not only meaningful but purposeful. The band decided that all proceeds from their first album Chroma would go to purchase LifeStraws, water filtration devices that can be used in places where people suffer from a lack of access to clean water.

This band is focused on something other than themselves, and I am learning that when we do this, our own healing takes place. So the lesson I’ve learned not only from this song, but from these guys is that we are called to care for and love one another. This brings about abundant life for everyone and helps make everything alright… Thanks guys.

Love,

Me

STARBOARDERS Links

Why am I so SAD?

This time of year is always difficult for me. I don’t think I paid much attention to it before the Great Fall of 2001. I love the holiday season – Thanksgiving and Christmas – because I get to spend time with family and friends. I love the smells. I love the food. I love the meaning of the Christmas season. But I hate the cold. I hate the short days. I hate the dark. I am the person who wishes that we could do Christmas in July every year. So you might say that I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.

I start noticing my demeanor shifting after Labor Day. When it starts getting cooler, I spend more time deciding what I am going to wear. It takes me longer to get out of bed. I go into work later. I’ve even been known to call in sick just because I can’t stand the thought of leaving my house. I now know that a major part of my depressive reality is Seasonal Affective Disorder.

When I was talking to a friend who is a mental health advocate and all around know-it-all when it comes to these issues, she said that many people use the SAD label who don’t necessarily suffer from the disorder. It has been found that those most prone to SAD are those who already have mental health issues, especially those with depression. I’m realizing that I have to be more vigilant during this time of year. I have to pay attention to the signs and be proactive in caring for myself.

It’s hard though. I feel like sadness lurks just beneath the surface and there really isn’t any rhyme or reason. I want to cry all the time. I am more aware of my emotions and feeling like I’m alone – even though I logically know I have an amazing support network. My tendency is to hibernate and re-emerge when Spring comes. Except, it’s impossible to live one’s life only two seasons of the year and take off the other two. So I am on the journey of figuring out how to live with my reality without feeling ashamed or guilty. My plan for today is to put one foot in front of the other, to focus on the things I have control over and to let go of those things that I cannot control. Just for today…

Love,

Me