When Depression Comes Knocking

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,
shoulders aching.

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 understanding.
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)

Fight BACK

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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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

50 Responses to When Depression Comes Knocking

  1. Pingback: PTSD Awareness Post 2017 – Part II | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. Pingback: April 2017: Mental Health Awareness | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  3. L. M. B. says:

    You left me with tears in my eyes … a lump in my throat and a a feeling like ther’s a stick of dynamite in my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are a natural empath, as am I. We “feel” the feelings around us – a double-edged sword, right?

      People like us need to develop ways to clear our own energy so we can remain open and positive. Can’t help a soul if we don’t do that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. M. B. says:

        One last thing … please! See this film caption and instead of head think … heart! Glass splitters in my heart. But don’t loose time on me … Im ok! Its just its all so SAD! Too little good and so much bad. Ther’s not enough people like you. Live long and prosper ! _/\_ …

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have no choice – heart is always first. Head comes in to help me make sense of what I feel.

          Ironically, there are quite a few people like me in the mental health and chronic illness community circles (those who suffer — the ones who make a living supposedly “helping,” not so much, sadly)

          Those who have little, share much. It seems that many of those who have much hoard.

          Liked by 2 people

          • L. M. B. says:

            My wife Sandra works in an old folks home … and is just a good soul as anybody can be! I don’t know how you all manage! Angels? On earth!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Sandra most certainly is, that’s for sure! It takes a special soul to walk with those at the end of life’s journey.

              Liked by 1 person

            • L. M. B. says:

              I was once visited an old man … who I often entertain? Exchange words? … anyway my wife saw me and whilst struggling putting an older bed bound lady … from a wheelchair into her bed … Sandra ( my wife ) asked me to give her a hand … ???? How ? Where do I hold her how do I lift her? It was a nightmare! And they do that DAILY ! Cleaning them up after having not been able to “contain themselves? Its DEFFINETLY NOT within everybody’s capability … and my wife is small ( beatyful … but max 1.70 cm ? … + or – ! ) How do they manage if not with the help of God?

              Liked by 1 person

            • I think you answered your own question about how they manage. Mother Teresa was not very big wither, and look what she managed to do – even into her later years.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. L. M. B. says:

    You leave me speechless! I agree with you in all points, I guess it would be a different world if all the members of “Our Communities” would respect ALL of the others, but that would be “utopia”? To think otherwise?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. L. M. B. says:

    All I can say at this point … is WOW! ( for many a reason .) A+++

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So sorry you had such a tough time and with the additional lack of empathy from your landlady!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wendy says:

    Thank you for being strong enough to share your experience, I know how tough it is on you.

    Your account of being mugged is horrific. The story of trying to get your life back together is heart breaking. Your struggles with the mental health professionals is abysmal. Unfortunately your experience with your mental health provider is not unusual. That appalls me. I’ve seen it first hand.

    What do I do when the darkness hits? The same as you. I write, I reach out to friends both on line and texts. I lose myself in TV and books….that may not be the healthiest I’m not sure, often the books are on mindfulness. I take a bath, it’s better for anxiety. I cuddle with my dog, then she’ll want to play, and play is the best thing for depression. 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It was very brave.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. badfish says:

    Well, this is a very profound and well-written account. But…just so depressing what some humans do to others, and for what reason? Kicks? Brave of you to share this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for visiting, reading, and for your kind words. Time will tell whether I was brave or foolish. Supportive comments like yours make me glad I took the chance.

      I don’t understand cruelty either. Robbery is at least understandable on some level – though more damaging than they know in cases like mine. It leaves scars. But cruelty? Drugs, probably.

      Almost worse, in my mind, was my landlady’s lack of empathy – forcing me to move suddenly and before my hand was fully healed. The only logic I can come up with is that, since she had not replaced the walkway lights and we were mugged in the darkest part of an already dark street, she was afraid I might sue and wanted me too busy to handle the details.

      Lack of kindness is “under the radar” cruelty — and far more pervasive and puzzling. In any case, it’s done now, and I must continue to take steps to get my life back. Onward and upward.


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