What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine, fine, fine
‘Cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five
~ Alanis Morrisette
I woke up this morning feeling well rested and I thought I can be anything I want to be today so I decided to be grateful. It is October, there is snow on the ground, it feels more like Christmas than autumn, my husband just went back to work in another province, my house is in the the “disastourous aftermath” stage of my busy week, my laptop is not working, I took my vitamins on an empty stomach and all I can taste is fish oil, my coffee is cold, my yogurt is warm and my day is passing by too quickly for my liking but even still I am feeling incredibly blessed.
It has been a difficult month but there have been some bright shiny moments that have reminded me of my resilience and the fact that the most important things can never be taken away from me.
My beautiful friend Ashley @photoswithashley recently captured my strength and spirit in some photos she took for me to update my blog. She made me feel beautiful and brave. I was holding back tears that morning because I felt choked by the uncertainties of life and I was struggling to be in the present and remind myself that worry takes the joy out of today but not the troubles out of tomorrow.
Ashley is not only good at her job but she is a fantastic person to be around. She radiates a positive energy and gives me that gentle reminder that my time is valuable and it is ok to spend it alone or choose to be around people that leave me feeling energizied not drained.
I have been suffering the devastating effects of depression for the past 18 years and there are many times that I feel like I am walking around in circles beating my head off of walls. There are many times that I have had to scoop my crying carcus off the floor and press the reset button. There are times that I have felt like an empty shell of a person walking around in a body.
The biggest problem with the depression is that I don’t understand it. Not from lack of trying. I have read a thousand and one books, I talk to people, I read psychology today and I frequent online support groups but I will never have all the answers. The depression lives with me, around me, wraps its strong arms around me as I lay down to bed. It doesn’t live in me though. It has not invaded my insides. Its demons try to smother me and make me insigificant but they can’t enter me. They live inside the person I love, screaming at him from the inside. They are there all the time! Sometimes he can keep them at bay, their voices are a dull consistent hum like a fan in the background waiting for the right time to strike. When he is overworked, stressed and weary those demons are lurking around in the shadows like thieves. Stealers of joy. You can’t drink them away, they love self medication, it helps them to prey on insecurities and construct inpenetratable walls of doubt.
Unfortunately you cannot love away depression either. Not your own and not anyone elses. Somedays it is hard enough to be your own cheerleader so being someone elses can become tedious.
A therapist told me recently that I had to focus on me. She didn’t want to talk about my love, she wanted to know about me, my support system, my hobbies, my frame of mind.
I hated her. I didn’t want to talk about me. I wanted to help the person I love. I wasn’t willing to talk about anything but so I decided she sucked.
It took me some time to realize that I did have to focus on me. I needed to be strong and realize that depression could not rob me of who I am. It can take my tears and multiply my insecuries and amplify my fears but at the very core if I am certain of who I am depression cannot take that from me.
Those realizations will not cure my loved ones depression. They will not take away his childhood trauma, his fears, his doubts or his loneliness. They won’t take the lives of the demons but they will diminish their power over me. They will not give us back the times we have lost battling them but what it will give me is the certainty that they cannot overtake me, they cannot take what is mine.
If I can take care of me in the darkness and in times of stife if I can remember that the light is in me than I can be stronger and I can face anything.
In relationships there are times when your partner will need you to be strong. There are times you will need them to be strong. I think it is one of the most important parts of marriage in fact. Relationships are like navigating a ship only when the waters get rough and too much to bear you don’t let the Captain go down with the ship. You grab the wheel and you hold on tight because four hands are better than two.
When you truly love someone you would no more judge their battle with depression than you would if they had a brain tumor. You would be strong for yourself because during the times that they use all of their energy to struggle through their days they cannot carry you or comfort away your fears. You need to set boundaries and lovingly encourage them to be healthy and get the best possible help to keep them in the light. Demons hate the light.
Depression and Mental illness affect your friends, your loved ones and your neighbors. People often suffer in silense. It is an illness that well meaning loved ones pat you on the back and say “perk up” Nobody brings you a casserole or offers to pick up some things for you at the grocery store. Survivors and their loved ones don’t wear brightly colored ribbons to let you know that once again they survived, they made it through the darkness. Lets start a conversation, lets talk about mental illness. Lets support each other and let people know that they don’t have to suffer in silence.
Fast Facts about Mental Illness
Who is affected?
- Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague.
- 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
- Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.
- Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.
- About 1% of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder (or “manic depression”).
How common is it?
- Schizophrenia affects 1% of the Canadian population.
- Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment.
- Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds.
- Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age.
- The mortality rate due to suicide among men is four times the rate among women.
What causes it?
- A complex interplay of genetic, biological, personality and environmental factors causes mental illnesses.
- Almost one half (49%) of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem.
- Stigma or discrimination attached to mental illnesses presents a serious barrier, not only to diagnosis and treatment but also to acceptance in the community.
- Mental illnesses can be treated effectively.