I feel the need to apologize to everyone who is following my blog. For the last month I have only written two posts. This one makes three.
I have to admit that I have had absolutely no desire to write. Activities with my book are not terribly interesting right now. The adoption issue cannot be discussed ad infinitum. With my birth father’s death in British Columbia and the completion of all responsibilities regarding his estate, there just don’t seem to be that many issues facing me, hence, no posts. And for that lack of posts, I apologize. I don’t like disappointing my readers. And I certainly don’t want them (you) to think that I don’t care about writing. I do.
But it’s more than that. For some time my bipolar disorder has been totally out of whack. The past few weeks have been especially bad, hence my absence from writing. It is infuriating. I am on lithium for my depression. I remember fondly when my counselor was finally able to get the dosage for my medication right. I felt I had been given a new lease on life. I could deal with problems and stresses. I enjoyed my hobbies and interests again. I was thrilled.
But the last year or so has seen my depression rear it’s ugly head again, and more often. I admit that some of it is my fault. In the rush of life I sometimes forget to take my meds. And sometimes I forget to eat, only to gorge on twenty pounds of food a few hours later–not a healthy way to live.
But as anyone with depression has realized, when you miss a dosage it oftentimes is not that easy to correct it. You can sometimes sink so deep and so fast that you become unable to function. Sometimes you don’t realize that you’ve forgotten your meds or a meal even though you’re depressed because you’re so familiar with the feelings of depression. Sometimes you notice your mistake, but the despair is so overwhelming that you truly cannot perk yourself up to walk into the kitchen and take your pills. And then it takes that much more work to get yourself back on track.
To many people this probably sounds like a cop-out. I’m sure many who read this will feel like saying that I deserve what I get because I’m just being irresponsible or enabling myself. That is not the case. By asserting such thinking, one is assuming that a person who struggles with depression actually likes being depressed.
Yet there’s a flip side to this coin, a dichotomy that will play into assertions such as these. I can’t speak for everyone, although I’m sure many can relate. And it’s this: depression can be comfortable. If you’ve suffered from it for decades as I have, sometimes it takes more energy to be confident than to wallow in despair. When you’ve spent your life in the depths, thinking you’re worthless, that nothing you do is positive, it can be tremendously difficult to change such thinking. Because we’ve been so depressed for so long, the healing power of medication can leave one feeling even more desperate when life doesn’t move as swiftly and positively as we’d like.
Now, I know what people are saying, “No shit”. Everyone knows you don’t get everything in life despite the assertions of glossy fan magazines. And intellectually, we know that. But, when you consider that we have been living in a defeatist hell for possibly most of our lives, you need to understand that oftentimes we feel that the opposite of constant despair is constant euphoria.
I suppose I should qualify these statements away from the corporate “we” and instead into first person “I”. I cannot begin to speak for others–and there are millions of us struggling with depression. Our name is, indeed, Legion. However, I feel quite confident that I am not the only person in this boat feeling this way.
So it can feel comfortable to revert back to the old ways. Yet when I fall back into such despair, I find myself crying out to God for deliverance–when deliverance is fifteen feet away. I guess perhaps I still feel like there’s going to be some magic elixir that will allow me to take one pill, one drink, and all will be okay for the rest of my life. Not so.
There’s so much to combatting depression besides the medication. I’ve found that exercise helps tremendously. Gets those old endorphins surging. Racquetball and weightlifting have always done it for me. It also helps to get chores done–yard work, grocery shopping, car repair, errands can all help the fight against depression in addition to meds. It gives me, anyway, a feeling of accomplishment. Sometimes the simplest task that I’ve accomplished can be used by me to help keep depression at bay.
And bigger things can help. I’m leaving for a month in San Diego in early May. Before I leave, I will be placing all my possessions in storage. When I return, I will stay with my best friend because we will be leaving for five weeks in Europe and Russia. When we return, I will be looking for a permanent place to live.
And therein lies my point–maybe sometimes we just need to make a change. I’ve been living in Salem, Oregon since November 1991 and I’m sick of it. There’s nothing keeping me here anymore. I’ve made the decision to move to Portland. Plus, I’m staying in San Diego for a month; I figure I can promote my book and writing down in San Diego just as easily as I can in Oregon. And I can do it in the sun.
Then there’s the five week trip to Europe and Russia. Who wouldn’t be encouraged by that? Afterward, I’ll have to find a place to live. I will also be looking for work since I need to start generating income.
My point is that sometimes we just need to make a change, while still realizing that the depression will come with us. Maybe the environment in which we are living is exacerbating our depression. Maybe our current situation–job, relationship, location, is no longer beneficial to us as a person; maybe it’s impacting our depression. It can be hard to make such significant changes. For me, I’ve found that changes are encouraging.
Yet, I’ve still been overwhelmed. Maybe it goes back to what I said a few paragraphs above–that things aren’t working as fast as I’d like and I’m feeling stuck and feeling like my efforts are useless. If that’s the way I’m feeling, it’s up to me to recognize it and deal with it.
If I stop and actually consider my situation, things look pretty good: I’ve received my first book review, I’m working on five YouTube video book trailers, I’ve got four book signing/readings coming up, I’ve got a worldwide podcast approaching and I’m preparing to look for an agent. While I’m in sunny San Diego, I’m going to try pushing my book. Since Southern California is my old stomping grounds, I will have the opportunity to visit old haunts and re-connect with some wonderful friends. I’ll have a new home soon in a city I love and I’ll have a five week trip to Europe and Russia. Things look good. That’s where I should focus instead of what might be. That’s what I should be focusing upon.
I guess this posting was therapeutic. Seeing sentiments in writing gives those very same sentiments a sense not only of legitimacy, but permanence. The words are now out there in the universe and can’t be taken back, even if I delete this post before it’s read. It’s uplifting.
I wrote this posting for others, but it’s turning into something for myself. I hope that someone who reads this and who might be struggling as I have been follows what I’ve said. Your changes don’t have to be as substantial as mine are–travel, new job, move, new home. It depends on what you need. The only way to find that out is by trying. It can take a harsh self-assessment as to what you should do. This can be difficult if you’re struggling.
I hope no one thinks that these changes I’m making have been easy. They haven’t. Even something wonderful like going to San Diego and Europe was not considered lightly. And it shouldn’t be looked upon with envy. What’s relevant is what YOU need. If you’re struggling, you must do what you need to do. What will make YOU happy?