When Depression Comes Knocking
Thursday, October 6, 2016 48 Comments
NONE of us can count on immunity
when life kicks us down
© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
A Mental Health Awareness Month Post
Today, the first Thursday of October, is National Depression Screening Day.
I have written relatively little about my own struggles, and don’t intend to focus there. Nor do I consider myself a poet; I rarely share my amateur attempts. However, a brave post by writer Christoph Fischer touched me in a manner that an informational article would not have. I decided to risk pulling back the curtain on a bit of the struggle in my own life for just a moment, hoping that it will touch someone else in a similar manner and encourage them to reach out.
We are more alike under the skin than we realize. NONE of us are really alone.
Nethersides of Bell Jars
I have been wrestling with PTSD along with struggles sleeping when it is dark out since a friend and I were gang mugged at gunpoint between Christmas and New Years Day, 2013 – only a few steps from the house where I rented an apartment.
My friend was pistol-whipped and almost abducted. After they robbed her, they turned their attention to me.
Among other things, my brand new iPhone, keys, datebook, all bank cards, checking account, and the locks on my van each had to be replaced – and everything else that entails.
Since the hoodlums smashed my dominant hand, I had to do it all encased in a cumbersome cast, one-handed for three months. I wasn’t able to drive – or even wash my face, hands or dishes very well. Zippers and can openers were beyond me.
Practically the moment my cast came off, I was informed that my landlord wanted her apartment back. Apartment hunting, packing, moving and unpacking with a hand that was still healing – along with retrofitting inadequate closets, building shelves to accommodate my library and my no-storage kitchen, arranging for internet access and all the other details involved in a move – took every single ounce of energy I could summon. Eventually, I hit the wall.
Unpacking and turning a pre-war apartment into a home remains unfinished still.
In the past 2-1/2 years I’ve dipped in and out of periods of depression so debilitating that, many days, the only thing that got me up off the couch where I had taken to sleeping away much of the day was empathy for my puppy.
He needs food, water, love and attention, grooming, and several trips outside each day – and he just started blogging himself.
I’ve frequently had the thought that taking care of him probably saved my sanity – maybe even my life, but many days it took everything I had to take care of him, as the isolation in this town made everything worse.
The words below
I’m sharing the words I wrote the day the psychopharm I have visited since my move to Cincinnati decided not to treat me anymore. When I called for an appointment, her receptionist delivered the news as a fait accompli, sans explanation.
- It might make sense to be refused treatment if I attempted to obtain medication too often.
- The truth is that, for quite some time, I hadn’t been able to manage the scheduling details that would allow me to visit her at all — even though that was the only way to obtain the stimulant medication that makes it possible for me to drive my brain, much less anything else that might give me a leg up and out of depression’s black hole.
- I would have expected any mental health professional to recognize and understand depression’s struggle. I hoped that she would be willing to help once I contacted her again. Nope!
One more thing I must jump through hoops to replace, costly and time consuming.
Related Post: Repair Deficit
And so, the words below, written upon awakening the day after I was turned away . . .
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The Netherside of the Bell Jar
Confined to one couch, exiled from another,
I’ve lived straining – arms outstretched
holding back dawn and praying for sleep,
I walk alone, companionship scripted on a screen,
theme music announcing the arrivals, shrieking over endless echoes
as day turns to night turns to daylight and darkness.
Dry eyes droop in sunlight, welcomed darkness in day’s exhaustion.
Day-dwellers here look past me as they stop for a moment to play with my pooch.
Unanswered cries of a night-keeper transcribed into notebooks,
documenting professional disinclination to offer aid
to those who can’t be scheduled.
Calls for help rattle the walls, amplified unanswered.
Many of life’s mistakes can be rectified
but emotion’s reverberations can’t be rewound.
No help. No hope.
It can happen to ANYONE
Yep! NONE of us can count on immunity from depression when life kicks us down repeatedly – even when our lives look privileged from the outside.
Check out Patrick Kennedy’s CNN interview about what he and his family went through – while stigma kept them soldiering on in silence, as items like drug addiction and PTSD complicated the picture.
CNN Podcast: David Axelrod interviews Patrick Kennedy on Mental Health: a Public Crises
(a bit slow moving, so clean or straighten while you listen)
We don’t need to give in to depression, however – or any other mental health challenge. We don’t have to let them win, keeping mental health forever in stigma’s shadow.
We need to do whatever we can to engage with life in any way we can manage until, inch by inch, we find our way again. Isolation can be a killer, and I can promise you that focusing on the struggles of someone else is very healing.
I write, pay attention to my puppy and reach out to help others – online and over the phone.
What do YOU do to keep on keepin’ on when life gets dark?
Related Post: You’ll Get Through This – a book for tough times
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You might also be interested in some of the following articles
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(in case you missed them above or below)
- Brain-based Coaching with Madelyn Griffith-Haynie
- LinkList to the articles in the Peer Coaching Series
- Depression and ADD/EFD – one or both
- Repair Deficit: when things fall apart faster than you can put them back together
- When Fear Becomes Entrenched & Chronic
- Complex PTSD Awareness
- Understanding Fear & Anxiety
- Sliding into Loneliness
- When you feel like you can’t bounce back
Related Articles ’round the net
- I’m a psychiatrist and I live with depression
- Supporting Someone Through Depression (from someone who’s been there)
- ANYBODY can have a crisis – 1st person/happy ending
- There’s an Elephant in the Room, stinking up the place (MS & depression)
- Life after Major Depression
- My journey to hell: How depression hijacked my soul, and how I finally wrenched it back
- Sylvia Plath and the depression continuum (NCBI – JRSM)
- Daisies and Bruises: My Story
- We Need to Talk about #Depression and #Antidepressants
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