Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why Not?

I stalled writing this part of my story since I don't like putting into words how fearful I am.  I don't know why I find it easier to say 'I battle depression' than 'I am fearful.'  KavinCoach described my life as fear based.  Not only was it fear based but loaded with misinformation, prejudice, and just plain ignorance.  When I was 15 years old I had my first blackout.  I reported the incident to my parents and was informed I was exaggerating.  I knew from experience they wouldn't believe me unless they saw one of the blackouts.  I didn't know what caused them.  I also felt totally out of step with anyone my age.  I again complained to my parents.  Again I was told that I was exaggerating and that I was just as mixed up as any other teenager.  I talked with other teenagers and I realized in high school that I thought differently.  I stopped sharing what I thought because I didn't like the reaction of my peers that on more than one occasion let me know what I said was "crazy."  This is where the prejudice came in.  I could be dumb, I could be ignorant, but "crazy" was totally unacceptable.  'They'* will come and take you away and lock you up for being "crazy."  Threats of 24th Street and Van Bueren  were scarier than the boogie-man. (Location of the mental institution in Phoenix.)  I know that my mother had gone to counseling a few times but only for a few sessions and the experience seemed to heighten my prejudice that counseling was useless.  Fortunately, I learned the errors of this backwards thinking.  Because of my black outs, I figured that there was something physically wrong with me.  Because I never cried, I didn't believe that I could be depressed.  I also read books like "Bellevue is a State of Mind."  That explored the horrors of a mental institution.  Another prejudice I encountered were those that said that if I had "enough" faith all would be well.  Being a logical type of person I flipped it around to say if all was not well I must not have "enough" faith.  (I put the word "enough" in quotes since no one was ever able to explain to me what "enough" faith looked like.  Job had plenty of faith and his life was a mess.  If you read my blog often you will notice that Job is one of my heroes.) Age 17, I passed out in front of my mother.  It was rather spectacular because I had just parked the car and didn't remember doing that when I walked in the house and fainted on the floor.  Off to the doctor I went.  He declared that I had adrenal collapse and it occurred because I was an over anxious teenager trying to do too much.  Years later I learned more and found that I only had a few of the symptoms.  The answer satisfied my parents and I was informed I would grow out of it.  I dismissed any need for concern.  Only thing was that the older I got the worse the blackouts were and the more frequently I had them.  I learned to recognize early symptoms and lay down before I fell down.  Again I asked doctors about the black outs.  I was told they were caused by pregnancy, nursing, and finally stress.  Great.  I considered Stress the great catch all for when the medical field doesn't know what is wrong with you.  Finally after all my children were born and I stopped nursing I blacked out while I was driving and wrecked our van.  Fortunately I was driving alone on a country road and I didn't hurt anyone but myself and the van.  Back to the doctor.  I was inspected, detected and tested for anything imaginable that has black outs for symptoms.  I was again asked if I was depressed again I said no since I loved to laugh and still didn't cry.  (When I started counseling when I was 45 I could count on one hand how many times I had cried and why.)  I finally did read a book on depression.  (Very depressing reading.)  This is when I found out that crying was only one of many different symptoms of depression.  I was stunned when I read the chapter on baby blues and discovered I had every symptom except crying.  By this time I did not trust the medical field so I stopped seeing doctors all together accept for emergencies.  My life spiral down into a darker and darker place.  I knew I was suicidal but I was afraid to tell anyone.  I sometimes would admit to my closest friend my depression but mostly I learned to keep my mouth shut.  A very poor choice based on fear of what might happen to me.  Twenty years ago I hit my lowest point.  I could barely function.  I had this shadow warrior that could annihilate me on a whim.  I was tired of trying to tell people in and out of my family that there was something wrong with me and having them tell me I was exaggerating or discount me completely as trying to manipulate them.  I finally accepted that I would live a half life.  More in twilight than living.  I pondered what the use of living this meager existence, then I would look at my kids and keep going.  One plodding step in front of another.  By this time my family finally excepted that there was something seriously wrong with me.  I started doing my own research.  Praying and studying I started rebuilding my physical health.  All the while ignoring the stress and depression in my life.  Our children were getting married, I was working full time and my mental depression finally hit the wall.  I either needed to live like a hermit, commit suicide or get counseling.  By this time I had read dozens of self-help books, hundreds of medical journal articles, and taken a how-to-improve your marriage class.  The last one was the final straw.  I attended the classes and didn't understand enough of what they were talking about to ask a question.  I felt that all these people in the room were talking another language.  I finally asked my friend for some names of marriage counselors to get help with learning how to communicate.  I called KavinCoach.  I finally took the steps I needed to learn what was really wrong with me.  I learned that depression can cause physical illness, insomnia, headaches, ulcers, asthma symptoms.... the list went on and on all the problems caused by depression and crying was only one of many symptoms.  I didn't cry because I had been systematically trained not to.  Now I hear someone is starting counseling and I admire their courage because it is one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Having cancer was easier than counseling.  If I am ever asked now what to do if you are depressed, get help.  Medical help and psychological help.  Counselors are not the same and sometimes what works for one person doesn't always work for someone else.  I am thankful for finding the counselor I trust and my family helps in paying for the sessions.  I recognize that the problems I have are severe and I couldn't handle them without new information.  KavinCoach teaches me a new way to view the world.  Just like my photography professors taught me how to see the world through the camera.  At first I had the attitude of please fix me.  I learned that KavinCoach would give me the tools to fix myself.  I am still learning.                 

*I never did figure out who the mysterious 'they' were but 'they' seemed very powerful.

Rock Bottom

The NFY post triggered my memory of how far I have come.  Over 20 years ago, I remember lying in bed wondering why I bothered to keep breathing.  I felt totally useless.  I couldn't take care of my family.  I couldn't take care of myself.  I didn't DO anything.  I live in a culture that values and defines who you are by what you DO.  I defined myself as a slug.  I look back and realize how far I have come.  I am thankful to my family not giving up on me the way I gave up on myself.  Paradoxically during this time is when I made a startling discovery.  I felt I had no value or worth, but a seed of belief started to grow that I was had value and worth to God.   Somehow my value and worth to God had nothing to do with what I could DO.   I existed so I had worth.  Years later, KavinCoach helped me wrap my mind around this concept.  He wanted me to think about those that I love and asked me what their worth and value was to me.   One of the things I thought about was my little cat.  This cat is totally worthless by any standard.  She is terrified of the world.  One ear was permanently twisted before I got her.  She cowers to the side while the birds eat her food.  Her purr is defective.  I was told on more than one occasion that she was worthless.  But not to me.  She is my kitty.  I am happy to see her.  I worry if she doesn't come at dinner time.  I love all her little quirks.  I am delighted by her increasing courage.  Kids can now pet her without her running for the rooftop.  KavinCoach pointed out, if this kitty could have worth to me than I could have worth to God.  I know somewhere along the way I built the conviction that Jesus Christ would have done what He did even if the only person on the planet was me.  That bit of faith pricked the darkness and a bit hope appeared.  Pinpricks of light can pierce the darkest places.   

Monday, August 30, 2010


Not Finished Yet!  This link is about people that are fearful of growing old.  I think it also applies to people that are fearful of living.  I especially like this line, "He will never consider you useless,..."  When I was at my worse I could only be up 30 minutes a day. 10 minutes at a time.  I felt useless.  That was over 20 years ago.  He wasn't finished with me yet.  Click on this link to see the original article: Not Finished Yet!

Sandpiper of joy

I have received this from several sources.  It came again to my emailbox this morning.  It helped.  Hopefully others will enjoy it too.  At the bottom is the TruthorFiction opinion on the source of the story.  Thanks Readers Digest for publishing a story that touches my heart.  Enjoy

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me. She was building a sandcastle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea.
“I see that. What is it?” I asked, not caring.
“Oh, I don’t know, I just like the feel of sand.
“That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by.
“That’s a joy,” the child said.
“It’s a what?”
“It’s a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy.” The bird went glding down the beach.
“Good-bye joy,” I muttered to myself, “hello pain,” and turned to walk on. I was depressed; my life seemed completely out of balance.
“What’s your name?” She wouldn’t give up.
“Ruth,” I answered. “I’m Ruth Peterson.”
“Mine’s Wendy… I’m six.”
“Hi, Wendy.”
She giggled. “You’re funny,” she said. In spite of my gloom I laughed too and walked on. Her musical giggle followed me.
“Come again, Mrs. P,” she called. “We’ll have another happy day.”
The days and weeks that followed belong to others: a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, and ailing mother. The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. “I need a sandpiper,” I said to myself, gathering up my coat. The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me.
The breeze was chilly, but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. I had forgotten the child and was startled when she appeared.
“Hello, Mrs. P,” she said. “Do you want to play?”
“What did you have in mind?” I asked, with a twinge of annoyance.
“I don’t know, you say.”
“How about charades?” I asked sarcastically.
The tinkling laughter burst forth again. “I don’t know what that is.”
“Then let’s just walk.” Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face
“Where do you live?” I asked.
“Over there.” She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter.
“Where do you go to school?”
“I don’t go to school. Mommy says we’re on vacation.” She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day.
Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed. Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood to even greet Wendy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home.
“Look, if you don’t mind,” I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, “I’d rather be alone today.”
She seems unusually pale and out of breath.
“Why?” she asked.
I turned to her and shouted, “Because my mother died!” and thought, my God, why was I saying this to a little child?
“Oh,” she said quietly, “then this is a bad day.”
“Yes, and yesterday and the day before and-oh, go away!”
“Did it hurt? ”
“Did what hurt?” I was exasperated with her, with myself.
“When she died?” “Of course it hurt!” I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off. A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn’t there. Feeling guilty, ashamed and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door.
“Oh yes, Mrs. Peterson, please come in” “Wendy talked of you so much.
I’m afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please, accept my apologies.”
“Not at all-she’s a delightful child,” I said, suddenly realizing that I meant it. “Where is she?”
“Wendy died last week, Mrs. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn’t tell you.” Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. My breath caught.
“She loved this beach; so when she asked to come, we couldn’t say no.
She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But the last few weeks, she declined rapidly…” her voice faltered.
“She left something for you…if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?”
I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for something, anything, to say to this lovely young woman. She handed me a smeared envelope, with MRS. P printed in bold, childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues-a yellow beach, a blue sea, and a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed: A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY
Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten to love opened wide. I took Wendy’s mother in my arms. “I’m so sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” I muttered over and over, and we wept together.
The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words- one for each year of her life- that speak to me of harmony, courage, undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea-blue eyes and hair the color sand— who taught me the gift of love.
This story is circulated on the Internet as having been written by either Robert Peterson or Ruth Peterson, the name of the woman in the story.
In reality, it was written by a woman named Mary Sherman Hilbert and a version of it was published in Reader's Digest in 1980.
Is it true?
The Reader's Digest article included an explanation from the author that a neighbor of hers had told her of "an experience" she had while walking on a beach in Washington state.  Mary Sherman Hilbert says she took notes at the time then later recalled the conversation and decided to write about it.  
What percentage of the story is real and what percentage is creative fiction is not clear, but at least we know where it came from and can attach the correct author's name to it.

Snap out of it.

   More then once I was told, "Why don't you just snap out of it?"  I marvel at the possibility that someone thinks I want to stay that way.  If I could have snapped out of it, I would have bruised my fingers snapping so many times to get myself out of that deep well of depression.  When I have felt mildly sad, disappointed, cranky, I can take myself to task and give myself an attitude adjustment.  Other times I slip well past this self-rescue plateau.  I do understand when someone says,  "Snap out of it," their intentions are good and their perspective, in my opinion, is top down.  They are not down in the well of depression and can't imagine not being able to get out on their own.  How do I describe to someone else that I am in such a dark place there isn't any light?  There is no awareness of where out is.  I work very hard at not getting to that place to begin with.  Once I had been there at that level of hopelessness I work at not going there again.  I started recognizing early signs.  I developed distraction strategies.  I learned what I could to prevent the spiral down into darkness.  What I didn't know was how they happened.  Have you ever played the marble game that you try to get the marble through a hand held wooden maze with holes in it? (See picture below.)  You are moving the marble along when bloop the marble drops down the hole.  I didn't know what to do when I dropped down those mental holes into deep depression. 
   Along came KavinCoach.  I described the problem to him.  He asked about my childhood.  I was puzzled by the redirect.  What did my childhood have to do with my dark holes?  I answered what I always said since high school, "It was great! I went to the park.  I went to the Zoo.  It was a great childhood." 
   He then asked me to tell him an average day.  In flat tones I replied, "It was great. I went to the park. I went to the zoo." 
   He was the first person that had ever challenged me, "You have no idea about your childhood." 
   I sheepishly confessed that I didn't have a clue.  I was amazed in high school that anyone could remember their childhood.  He asked me my earliest memory.  I answered sometime in junior high.  Part of counseling is a conversation where a person tells the counselor their past and as an adult they review those childhood events with a different perspective.  The counselor suggests different ways they can now view those past events.  But what do they do, when there is nothing to tell?  In my mind there was a massive dark wall between me and my past.  What followed was that over the next several weeks I was given books to read and to report back my reaction to the book.  The first book I read was Dave Pelzer's A Child Called It.  Dave's story is a severe child abuse cases in California in the 1970's era.  I read the book.  I brought it back and calmly asked, "What do you want me to learn from this?"
KavinCoach responded, "How do you feel about it?"
I shrugged and said, "Bad things happen to kids.  What do you want me to learn from it?"
KavinCoach assigned several more books each more violent than the last.  Each time I would come back and ask, "What do you want me to learn from it?"
The final book was on the Holocaust.  I finally responded "What do you want me to learn from it is the wrong answer."  KavinCoach assured me there was no right answer.  KavinCoach learned a lot about me and my lack of response to the violence that can happen in this world. This was the first clue I had that my childhood was not great.  For me, bloop meant I had fallen through that dark wall into my past.  It was time to shine some light on my childhood. 

Marble Maze Picture
Marble picture source

Dave Pelzer, A Child Called It Amazon Books A Child Called It

Friday, August 27, 2010


This blog's focus is on depression, the dilemma is how do I share what I feel and learn without coming across as depressing?  Today, I experimented with adding a couple of things that came my way that may or may not be helpful.  I discovered a long time ago, something that helps and cheers up one person is a negative hot button for someone else.  I admire Pollyanna who saw the good in everyone and everything.  Through my photography I have learned to appreciate the beauty of a sunrise, stripes on a tiger or a zebra, the fluffiness of clouds, or the delicate dance of light on a lake, but I struggle with staying in that frame of mind.  People are always an interesting challenge for me.  I like being around people but I can get overwhelmed.  Too much input at the same time.  My kids know that I can get in and out of a Mall by the shortest route possible.  Big crowded parties are a source of terror. So I am no Pollyanna even though I try to look for good in events and people.  So readers, I am enlisting your assistance.  If something is a hit feel free to drop a comment.  If it is a miss, but you don't want to leave a public comment, email me at WeAreOnebyRuth@gmail.com for a way to let me know your reaction.  Anonymous is also an option.  Your feedback will help me to pick and choose from my experiences. 

I have good days and not so good days and days where I ask myself, "I opened my eyes because.....?"  So if this blog gets a missed day, I am either super busy or I am just not up to sharing any thoughts.  The dark threads in my life are no longer on a hit list to be eliminated completely.  KavinCoach pointed out that the dark threads of the tapestry give a richness and beauty that could not be achieved with the light threads alone.  Balance of light and dark is what I am trying to achieve.  My photograph today would not have a place to have the words without the dark space.  The clouds and sky are too busy for the words to stand out.  But in the darkness the scripture stands out "Be still and know that I am God."  Sometimes in the darkest hours is when I feel my Savior's love.  I am not advocating depression.  But I learned that I do not have to eliminate it completely to live a productive, enriched, empowered and interesting life.     

Pollyanna there's a Wiki on that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollyanna
Tapestry image: http://www.artisansrugtapestry.com/product.html

Another blog

I look for ideas in all sorts of places.
If you have time you may enjoy "When Slow is Fast Enough."
This is advice of what to do for a child.  Do I need to consider that this is something I need to do for myself?

Interesting video

One of the things I do is keep a look out for thoughts, sayings, posters, video clips and other sources of inspiration.  Some are helpful for a moment, some change my life.  This morning my iGoogle had a wikiHow on "How to Simplify Your Life."  Some of the ideas I am familiar with, some come under the category of great (if I had the energy to exercise I would), but what was really interesting about this article was the video. Suggestion: Skip the reading, unless you are looking for ways to simplify your life, scroll down to the video "Life is Like a Cup of Coffee."  Takes 3 minutes to view.  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pain of Guilt

My writer friend reminded me in her comment that one of the challenges of depression is well meaning people adding guilt to an already burdened soul.  

Laurel wrote: “It is daunting to realize I've spent my whole life in depression. Now, add guilt because surely being Christian means I should be happy, shouldn't it? Being Christian has kept me from giving up completely. Being Christian gives me hope enough to struggle through another day.”

I enjoy Calvin and Hobbes and this quote came to mind when I was thinking about this subject.  
"There's no problem so awful that you can't add some guilt to it and make it even worse!"

There is a type of sorrow that comes when a person recognizes that they have sinned and need to repent but not all sorrow comes from this source.  

I decided to turn to the scriptures to see what is written there.  
The first person that comes to mind is Job and his struggles.  He is not a wicked man but one bad thing after another happens to him.  He is accused by his friends of wickedness that surely these things happened because of Job’s wrong doing.  Job writes for several chapters in the Old Testament of his feelings of despair.  He reviews all the negative things that happened to him then in 
Job 19:25, 26:
25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
Job is a man that understands deep depression and despair.  He acknowledges that his circumstances are not caused by his own wrong doing.  Yet his faith is not destroyed.  It his faith that gives him strength.  My view is that his faith is not dependent on what good or bad happens to him.  He knows that his Redeemer liveth and this is his testimony and strength.  

I remember a time before my counseling started that someone pointed out to me that I had a good life.  I had a husband and 6 beautiful children, I had a great start in life (this was before I remembered), I had a comfortable home and food on the table.  In essence, I was asked as to what right did I have to feel depressed?  Guilt was heaped on top of my depression.  I only knew, at that time, that the night was dark and haunted with sorrow.  I felt deep compassion for Job and admired his steadfastness in his testimony that his Redeemer lived.  

In Luke 4:16-21 Christ shares his calling as He reads in the synagogue:
16 ¶ And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
To me, depression is the same as brokenhearted.  I felt depression so deeply it effected my sleep (lack of), my energy levels (energy of a slug), my soul for it was dark and sorrowing with no apparent cause.  Depression dogged my footsteps.  Yet through all this, I believed, and continue to believe, that “my Redeemer liveth.”  He has comforted me and brought me to a counselor that has the skills and knowledge I need to learn to thrive.  Through out the scriptures there are references of being comforted and healed through my Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  I believe this.  My faith in Christ helped me survive my darkest moments.


After rereading my entry “What is Depression?”  I realized how much of this I learned from KavinCoach.  I think introductions are needed.  Or maybe I just need to acknowledge that KavinCoach’s words are sprinkled through out mine for a reason.  KavinCoach taught me about continuums.  I was raised in a black and white world with the concept that ‘They’ were right and I was wrong.  If you didn’t do things perfectly the way somebody else wanted you were wrong.  If I didn’t believe or act or say what ‘They’ wanted, I needed to be corrected of the errors of my ways.  The possibility that ‘They’ were wrong and I was right entered my head from time to time.  What never occurred to me, where KavinCoach came in, we were both partially right from our perspective and there was plenty of shades of gray in between.  

How KavinCoach came into my world.  

I remember when I was about 15 years old complaining to my parents that something was wrong with me.  Trying to be encouraging, they reassured me that I was like every other teenager.  I talked to other teenagers and felt even stronger that there was something wrong with me.  I read self-help books, took a ‘Search for Identity’ class, and felt more and more that I did not think like everybody else.  Self-help books seemed to leave me more and more confused.  (Talk about feeling inadequate.)  I did the best I could - married, moved cross-country multiple times and gave birth to 6 amazing kids.  During this time my physical health deteriorated.  After our last child was born I became bedridden for over 3 years.  I was in my early 30s.  In and out of doctor’s offices to be told that physically nothing was wrong with me.  More than once, I was told I was depressed.  I couldn’t grasp the concept that if it was all in my head, why did my body hurt so much?  If you are in a deep, dark pit how do you dig yourself out?  I kept searching.  I finally hit break point of 3 choices, divorce my husband and live as a hermit, commit suicide, or get professional counseling.  (A later blog will discuss some of the reasons why I didn’t seek professional counseling help earlier.)  I asked a friend for some names of counselors that could teach me to communicate with others.  In my own opinion that is what I thought was wrong with me.  I just didn’t know how to communicate.  She kindly gave me 3 names.  I prayed about the names and felt I should call KavinCoach.  I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  KavinCoach gave me very clear expectations that it was his job to teach me new ways of looking at the world and my job to work.  He clearly defined his role as COACH.  Imagine for a moment a football stadium with a huge maze on the field.  I am down in the middle of the darkest part of the maze.  KavinCoach is up in the press box with a microphone.  The way I viewed it, each session I would describe what I was seeing in the maze and he would give suggestions on how to move through it.  Sounds easy right?  Wrong.  There were several difficult obstacles.  I didn’t trust him or anyone else.  I had funny, weird glasses on that distorted everything.  Sometimes when I heard his suggestions I reinterpreted them with a few strange twists that KavinCoach would patiently straighten out and explain to me again.  I would do the opposite of what he suggested and get myself stuck in a dead end.  I sometimes just ran around in circles.  KavinCoach would wait patiently until I wore myself out and then he would give me another suggestion when I was ready to listen.  KavinCoach has years of experience, PhD, loads of patience, and a willingness to really listen.  KavinCoach recognized very early on that I did indeed think differently.  He acknowledged my right to think differently.  Allowed me through different homework assignments, chosen by him, to guide me to revise how I thought.  Albert Einstein once said, “You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”  KavinCoach persuaded me that ditching the weird glasses was in my best interest.  He patiently taught me that he could be trusted and there are other people in my life I could trust too.  His teachings are intermingled in almost everything I write now.  I won’t always give him credit when I say it, but the bottom line is I am where I am today because he taught me how to get here and I ran the maze.  I am no longer in the darkest part.  I am learning more and more everyday how to run the maze on my own.  My goal is graduating from KavinCoach telling me how to run the maze to me being with my family in a way that is emotionally healthy.  In this blog I am sharing some of what I learned.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What is Depression?

I know from my own experience that defining what I mean by depression from the beginning is very important.  I still remember yelling at a doctor, “I know what depression is and I would know it, if I felt it.”  This statement followed when a doctor at a Neurological wing of a hospital told me I was depressed and didn’t know it.  I didn’t understand how I would not know I was in such a dark pit that suicide seemed reasonable. Since that epic moment, I learned two things.  (The moment was epic because I hardly ever stand up for myself on anything.  Too bad, the one of the few times I did, I was completely wrong.)  One: that depression, like many things in life, is on a continuum from the slightest feeling of I am sad or I am angry and can’t deal with it right now so I will depress that emotion to a later time to the mind numbing darkness that makes suicide* seem reasonable.  Second: I learned that I could have all sorts of feelings and not have a clue that I was feeling anything at all, the power of dissociative behavior.  I really do owe that doctor an apology.  

Today I will try to tackle a definition that is fairly reasonable and can be done in a blog.  (I have read entire books on depression.  Really depressing reading.)  One of the books I read had an entire chapter on ‘baby blues’ at this point in time I learned that you don’t have to be crying at a drop of a hat to be depressed.  Childhood conditioning taught me not to cry, except in extreme circumstances.  (Before counseling, I could count on one hand how many times I had cried and tell you why.)  After reading the book I realized I had every symptom except crying.  For my purpose, I use the continuum idea to help visualize what I mean by depression.  On the very lightest end of depression are those moments in time that I feel sad, disappointed, discouraged but a change of thinking, morning, or distraction and the feeling disperses.  Every person that is not dissociated has these moments of feeling down.  Moving down the continuum the feelings increase in depth and longevity until waking up in the morning gives a break from nightmares and going back to sleep lets you hide from the grinding hopelessness called living.  A few days can be grueling, a few weeks see a doctor or counselor, a few years quality of life comes to a place that curling up into the fetal position and staying that way seems reasonable.   

*Suicide to me is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  In my way of thinking, nothing in this world is permanent except death.  Being Christian, that is also temporary.  

Normal I tend to try to avoid using the word ‘normal’ to define the average feeling since what is ‘normal’ can be effected by environment, culture and other influences.  What is normal for a penguin at the South pole would be considered down right odd for a lizard in the desert.  Normal gets a lot of razing from me since my favorite quote is “normal is a setting on a drier.”  Normal in a way is that vague thing that most people do and could change.


dictionary.com reason #2 the state of being depressed. (That is so not helpful.)
#5 Psychiatry. a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason. Compare clinical depression. (At this point I always want to ask, “Warranted by who?”)



Helpguide.org  http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_signs_types_diagnosis_treatment.htm
Mayo Clinic

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Deep Well

What do you do when you are in such a Dark Well that books that are designed to uplift you are discouraging?

This is the question that came to mind when I created this blog.  I wanted to call it hands that hang down, dancing in the rain, or something else that indicates that this is for people that know what it is to suffer from darkness in the daytime.  I think everyone is susceptible to depression at night when lights are out and you are all alone but recover once the next day arrives.  I am wishing to write to those that wake up in the morning and think, “Oh Lord, its morning, how am I going to survive another day?”  I decided that most people that write uplifting books do not suffer from severe depression and write from a top view, looking down.  I remember when I first started in counseling and the image that came to mind was the counselor throwing down what he thought was a helpful rope; what I saw was a rope filled with glass shards that would be painful to grab and agonizing to pull myself out of the pit I was in.  I decided to share my experience battling depression in hopes of reaching one other person that knows what this feels like.  This may be partially selfish in that I am tired of feeling like I am alone in the dark.   I do believe that my Savior, Jesus Christ, knows where I am, but sometimes I feel like He is busy and I would appreciate another person here on Earth to know where I am.  I wouldn’t wish severe depression on anyone.  I suspect, without proof, that there others out there like me already.  I want to hold a small candle in the darkness and let us see each other just a bit.    

My source for depression was not chemical imbalance.  I had bazillions* of blood test to prove that physically, I am just fine.  I was offered many different drug choices from epilepsy medication to antidepressants but I wanted physical evidence that any of these would work.  (Paranoid about prescription drugs but that is for another day.)  I 110% support using prescription drugs to help anyone that it works for them.  My source for depression was unknown for one basic reason.  I didn’t remember anything from before high school.  In my mind, my entire childhood was a dark pit with only sprinkles of light that allowed small random memories to come through.  The key to my depression was buried in that darkness.  I have spent over 7 years in counseling and still counting.  For about 5 of those years I have used emails to my counselor to help work through what was tearing me up inside.  In the future, I will use some of those entries which will be direct quotes from those emails.  I will eliminate information that would tell you who my family is because I wish to protect them from criticism and any repercussions from what I write.  Some people looking in from the outside might say, why didn’t they do more to help me.  How could they?  None of us are professional counselors and we really had no idea what dark monster I was battling.

What qualifies me to write from this perspective?  My official diagnosis is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with Dissociation at a severe level, sometimes referred to as Dissociative Identity Disorder.  The first time I read my own diagnosis I read it 10 times to grasp that this was me.  In lay terms, I had a childhood from Hell and I used multiple personalities to survive.  From my perspective, no matter what I did I always ended up at the bottom of a dark well feeling suicidal.  I was once told to live one day at a time.  I joked if I had tried to do that I would have committed suicide long ago.  I learned painfully, I can do anything for 5 minutes.  There were years of my life that I survived 5 minutes at a time.  To those that come to this page, I want you to know that severe depression is hard and you are not alone.

*bazillions is a ridiculous way to say more than I want to count or too many.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Everyone must start somewhere.  I am starting this blog to share my journey out of the darkness of depression.  How I changed from not just surviving but thriving.  I did not make this journey alone.  I had many bless me along the way.  I hope that my words can reach others that struggle with just opening their eyes to face one more day. 

I am a photographer so many of my writings will be combined with pictures I took.  I will try to have the pictures in a size that you can use as a desktop, feel free to down load, if it will help make your life a little bit better.  My images are mine to share.  You can use them for yourself.