I've been in therapy, I tell people, "since I'm 15." That would mean that I've spent 27 years in therapy. That would be 27 x 52 = 27, 1404 sessions, plus the years when I went twice per week, minus my therapists' three week long vacations, puts me at around 1750 sessions, I'd say. Something in that order. And I've learned a lot about myself and about the world around me and about how to get along being me in this big old world that alternately feels like it couldn't give two bits about me and then turns around and holds me like I'm the center of it all. And all this time, I have suffered with depression. Never so heavy that I had to be hospitalized, except the occassonal suicidal bout, but I've never had that debilitating depression that leaves a person unbathed and overslept for months on end.
My depression has always been more moderate functioning. I could work, bathe usually, get out of bed in the morning, keep things going around the house, do some version of grocery shopping. Writing was out of the question. I could perform though. My performances probably weren't the greatest, but I could get up in front of people and "be."
So, last March I wound up in a manic state which lasted about two months until my girlfriend and I broke up and then I wound up in a pretty balanced place. I was active, engaged in my life, I was writing, I was teaching...things were going well. I wasn't manic, but I wasn't depressed and I felt I was getting my life back from this ridiculous relationship I had been in for 2.5 years and things were good.
And then something happened. My ex wouldn't return my laptop that I bought that she was borrowing (lesbians) for the summer. I needed it back early because my kid broke her laptop and she needs one, so I figured I'd get the one back from ex and all would be good. But no. My ex refused to return my property to me. She refused to acknowledge that she was doing a whackadoodle thing by keeping something that wasn't hers. She accused me of being a bad mother for not going out and buying my kid a new laptop. (I'm getting upset all over again thinking about that conversation.)
So...I got mad. And then...I got really, really embarassed. Like mortified. Like "holy shit, I can't believe I chose to be with this person. That I let her around my kid. That she's STILL seeing my kid." I was embarassed, so embarassed and then I became ashamed. This deep, fathomless. reckless shame swept me under and drowned me. And then I was fine. It passed. I felt ok and I was able to get back to my life (the whole process of getting mad to being ashamed took maybe a day) and taking care of business. And yeah I was fine. Totally fine. Except when I wasn't. Which was when anyone did anything anywhere close to criticizing me. At best, I'd hold my tongue, get tense and leave the situation or change the subject. At worst (normally with my therapist and with my parents) I would lash out, angrily, hatefully. And there was no resolution. No tearful union and understanding at the end. There was just me breathing deeply, apologizing through tight lips and moving on. Because I didn't know what I was so fucking upset about. I had no idea why these people who love and care about me were pissing me off so deeply. I thought, "I'm becoming a hateful bitch and that's who I'm going to be for the rest of my life."
And I went on like this - maintaining my life and raging whenever anyone got too close - for about two and a half weeks until today.
Today I went to therapy and I told my therapist that I think I'm depressed. Because I think my being "fine" is not true and that I'm really upset. That I've been depressed for a while, but that I don't know what I'm depressed about. My break up? No. Not being further along in my career? No. A recent financial set back? No. And then I started to dig into myself: "And I just don't know why you keep pissing me off so much. It's like you're too close to me and you're too far away - at the same time. I want to punch you and hug you. I'm so mad at you and I don't know why." And then it came pouring out, like hard rain, "I can't believe I dated her! I'm so embarassed, I'm so ashamed. She's terrible. She used me and then she moved on. She was a mistake and everyone knew it but no one said anything to me. She's making a fool out of me right now. (re: the laptop)" And I cried. Cried tears that I'd been holding onto for months - ever since the notion that this relationship was a mistake first took root in my conscious.
I cried and I cried and I cried. And I sobbed. And we talked a bit about how there's healing to do and lessons to learn so that this doesn't happen again. (oh, writing that just made my stomach drop)
And then...I was better. Really better. Not the kind of fine I was after being told I was a bad mother. Not that kind of "fine." No, this was like I had had a heart massage. I felt relief. I didn't feel angry. I felt connected to myself. And it was all because i was willing to face what I had been de-pressing. That shame. That deep, unforgiving shame.
So one cure for depression is to do just that. Face what you're de-pressing. It's scary and nauseating and feels terrible in the moment, but it is like vomiting, there's relief on the other end.
In fact, I felt so much better that that evening I was at a support group meeting that I run where there was a woman who was in a lot of pain and I was able to keep her after the meeting and give her some support and love and SHE felt better after we talked. That's some powerful stuff.
Power to the Peaceful and Love to All,