As I’m thinking about some of the darkest times in my life, the fall from having it all to having nothing was the harshest thing I could imagine. There were moments…
(Disclaimer: I am not a counselor or mental health professional. I am not offering advice on how to treat your depression or suicidal thoughts. I am saying GET HELP and GET IT NOW. See also the Divorce Reference Library page)
For now, here are a few things I learned about depression.
Your brain is fooling you. You can no longer trust your own thoughts. Even the negative thoughts are not accurate. What was critically important for me was to realize when I was getting depressed and go into humorous observation mode. “Wow, my thinking is really fucked up.” There’s nothing funny about depression, but sometimes if I could amplify my dark clouds to the ultimate extreme I could remind myself how silly my thinking could get. I mean, I was probably not responsible for nuclear war. But that’s how it felt sometimes.
Soft thoughts about suicide are actually suicidal thoughts. Harder to admit the word “suicide” into my vocabulary. But I had vague ideas about jumping from a bridge or crashing my car at high-speed. And while those are called “ideation” they ARE actually suicidal thoughts. Take them seriously. Again, remember, your brain is crazy at this point. Even odd thoughts about how you “might” kill yourself are actually thoughts about killing yourself. I know that sounds kind of circular, but it’s easy to discount the “concept” rather than the “plan” of killing yourself.
Tell your care team about your “ideation.” Even the littlest thing can be a clue into what’s going on in your brain. And once you get over the hurdle of talking about it, you can begin to disassemble the issues and problems that are making you consider that ending your life might be a solution to ANYTHING. It’s not a solution!
If you ever find yourself with a plan, call 911. Do whatever it takes to get yourself to share your planning with someone else. This is serious. If you have a plan, call your healthcare provider now. If you’re plan is in motion, call 911. Only you can take the action to prevent this.
Everything else can wait. Everything else, every problem, every situation, can wait for you to clear your depressive thoughts. There are a lot of helpful things you can do to move forward and out of depression. I have some powerful references in the Library. But for now, just know, that ANYTHING you do to stop your depressive acting out is worth it. Ice cream, funny movies, computer games, whatever it takes to break the spiral of dark thoughts.
Isolation is your enemy. Those dark thoughts can seethe and spin unchecked when you are staying in bed or blocking and not returning phone calls. What you need but can’t seem to ask for, is companionship. Just another soul to be with, to check in, to ask, “What are you doing tomorrow.” Do what you can to find that one person who understands. And then thank them for providing you with a check-in. That’s all you need at first. A “check-in.” Someone who is going to call and who you cannot block. It sucks, but the longer you dig in to the darkness the harder it is to pull out.
In my case I used some of the 12-step literature to help bootstrap myself back out of my dark cave and into recovery. The concept of MASSIVE ACTION really spoke to me. The idea being, that little incremental steps were not going to be enough to pull me up out of depression. So I signed up for a divorce recovery class (10-week counselor-led group) and joined an Aikido class. And every day, I made a plan to get out of bed and out in the world for a healthy lunch.
Just beginning these commitments toward health signaled to my depression that I was not going to take it lying down any more.
Some people have the idea that depression is a weakness. That everybody should be able to pull themselves up if they wanted to. Fuck that. Depression is a real beast. If you’ve never felt the weight of the black beast on you, you are lucky. But if you have dealt with, or think you may be dealing with depression, GET HELP.
You don’t have to do it alone. And trying to do it ALONE might even make things worse. The shame of depression is still real. But you cannot let it prevent you from getting the help you need.
The Off Parent
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See also: Followed By the Black Dog of Depression
- The Divorce Library (reading list)
- Songs of Divorce (free listening library – youtube sourced songs)
- Laugh It Off (building a resource library of funny videos and other diversions)
- Facebook (follow us on Facebook and keep up with all the conversations)
- The 5 Love Languages (a book on love styles by Gary Chapman)