Posts Tagged ‘depression’

The power of sharing my own experience.

A conversation with friend from earlier this week:

“You probably haven’t had to deal with stuff like this,” she said, after describing how she’d been feeling lately.

“Depression?”

She nodded. “Well, actually, I have,” I said, and elaborated about my own experience.

Afterward, she thanked me for sharing. She knew then that I could relate to how she was feeling.

This moment allowed me to see how incredibly validating it was for me to share my personal experience — for both my friend and for me.

When I was in the midst of my most severe depressive episode, I know that I often felt very alone and isolated in my experience. I think that affirming for someone that she is not alone may have been a powerful gift. Yes, it required vulnerability. It required me to tread into topics I don’t usually touch on in everyday conversations. It gave me the opportunity to rely on my inner strength and know that I could be — and was — okay to give support in that moment.

I felt cautious with this interaction, both during and afterwards. I know I am not necessarily fragile now, but I see the darkness within myself, the potential for becoming depressed again. These kinds of interactions have the potential to be draining and triggering. But I also realize that in many ways, this gives me an opportunity to establish boundaries when needed while also providing the kind of support that only one who has been through something similar can provide. I won’t offer solutions, but I can offer my own story and share what helped me.

It helped me to share, too. Sometimes I feel like I only give people parts of my story. True, not everyone has earned my trust to hear more. But it was important for me to have a moment where I let my guard down, especially when it seemed appropriate and needed. So perhaps I received a gift in that moment as well.

Life: celebrate, honor, live.

Life paintingI posted this on my social media pages along with this caption:  “Painting/drawing in honor of life, of choosing to live, learning to thrive, and being true to myself. On this date three years ago, I was severely depressed and hit rock bottom. Today, I honor my healing and all the choices that led me to where I am today.”

On May 25, 2013, I was hospitalized for severe depression and suicidal ideations.

I’ve been feeling the anniversary energy this month – more strongly than this time last year, but less strongly than the first year. In this energy, there’s an intensity, sadness, grief, determination, and more. In time, that energy will likely change or fade. In any case, I hope that I’ll take many more moments to acknowledge and celebrate my life, to celebrate living.

Year One.

Year Two.

Recognizing my experience of depression in the pages of the DSM-V

A few weeks ago, my assignment for my Abnormal Psychology class – choosing a disorder and writing about it from a specific therapeutic perspective – gave me a reason to look through the DSM-V, the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. I went to the local library, sat down with their reference copy, and flipped through the pages. I skimmed the criteria of different disorders, searching for one that might seem intriguing, but not too triggering or something that I have directly experienced.

Major Depressive Disorder did not meet my second requirement; nonetheless, I stopped skimming and read through the criteria. And as I read, I recognized that two and a half to three years ago, I met nearly every point of the criteria, line by line. Part of me suspected this, but I hadn’t looked it up, not even in my old copy of the DSM-IV that I’ve had for years. If the page had been a checklist, it would have been full of check marks.

On one hand, the realization was sobering: I was severely depressed. That’s scary and serious.

On the other hand, I can also say that it’s factual, it’s true, and that reading the criteria simply confirmed what I already knew. I had a depressive episode, the worst I’d ever had. I acknowledge that before I experienced that episode, I likely struggled with mild depression, or dysthymia, on and off for years, perhaps since I was a teenager.

Alternately, I can also look at it like this: I was severely depressed. I went back to my hometown. There, I got the help and support I needed. I don’t know if I can say that I am necessarily better off because of my depression, but the support I got helped me get to where I am today. I like and appreciate my life now.

There is also something validating in seeing what I experienced written in words on a page. It tells me that other people have experienced this, that people have researched it, that treatment continues to be looked at and further developed.

I do recognize that a diagnosis is primarily a measurement used for medical, prescriptive, and insurance reasons. It isn’t consistently a defining factor in my life; at this point, the main thing is that I take two pills each morning. I also keep better track of my moods and I regularly use skills to deal with challenging situations and emotions.

I remind myself that I don’t have to make too much meaning out of the pages of the DSM; it’s a reference manual used in certain contexts. I know that if I experience and recognize the symptoms of depression again, I am more equipped to deal with it. I am therefore less likely to experience another major depressive episode. And that’s what really matters to me.

Friday link roundup 7/8

There have been several shootings, by police and civilians, in the past few days in the U.S. I want to acknowledge those here. If I posted a link here, it would be an article that looked at the whole of what has happened, as well as the individual lives lost, and the impact. On Facebook, where I find many of my news articles, I see people who want change, and I also see division and arguments. I don’t believe that “us vs. them” arguments are helpful. This article/blog entry shares Bobby Kennedy’s speech from 1968, “The Mindless Menace of Violence,” which he gave after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. As journalist Nancy LeTourneau says, this speech was relevant then and is also relevant in terms of these recent events.

There have been recent several attacks and many deaths in Turkey, Iraq, and more. This article discusses the lack of mass-media coverage for violence in non-Western areas of the world.

What is it like to be intersex? This article describes the experience of parents and intersex people alike.

A video on the difference between being sad and having depression.

I’m currently watching a documentary mini-series called Ascent of Woman, which is now available to stream on Netflix. In this series, historian Dr. Amanda Foreman travels around the globe and explores the status of women throughout world history. She also fills in some of the gaps where women have been written out.

This will be available for the next few days: First listen of guitarist Jeff Buck’s new album, Loud Hailer. I recommend listening to the final song, “Shrine.” I find it beautiful, and full of hope.

Friday link roundup 3/18

A school district in Canada is teaching children emotional regulation.

On feeling overwhelmed in the midst of depression.

A woman talks about voluntourism and short service trips to other countries – and argues that they might not make much of a positive impact.

An Afghan woman brings her art and feminist murals to the streets of Kabul.

The Real Reason I’m Losing Fat.  I found Jessi Kneeland’s article on her weight, body image, and emotional healing stunning on a number of levels.  I’ll include a few quotes here and allow you to read for yourself:  “My mom told me that my only job was to let myself feel all that sad. She told me to add “be very sadto my to-do list every day until I no longer needed it.”
“It’s all beautiful, natural, normal, and appropriate for you right now. That’s true when you have soft belly rolls, true when you’re totally jacked, and true when you’re light and lean. All reflect the ebb and flow of life. And none of it determines your worth, because your worth is intrinsic.”

Friday link roundup 11/13

Deanna Zandt – media technologist, author, and speaker – created a comic essay about her journey with depression:  Meditation vs. Medication: Facing Depression.   I relate to her exploration of using multiple holistic methods to help her manage her moods until even those weren’t enough.

“According to their Facebook page, ‘Guerrilla Grafters is a grassroots group that sees a missed opportunity for cities to provide a peach or a pear to anyone strolling by. Their objective is to restore sterile city trees into fruit-bearers by grafting branches from fertile trees. The project may not resolve food scarcity, but it helps foster a habitat that sustains us.’ Their mission, they say is to make delicious, nutritious fruit available to urban residents through these grafts.”  More about the San Francisco-based Guerrilla Grafters movement here.

When I first told a friend about my sensory processing disorder diagnosis, she responded with “I realized recently that not everyone processes everything the same.  I wish I had known this sooner.”  Temple Grandin discusses the importance of different kinds of thinkers and a new approach for thinking about thinking.

I see this as hitting more of the mainstream:  An article from the U.S. News & World Report about children and sensory processing disorder.

As time goes by, more and more Native languages are on the brink of extinction.  An 81-year-old-woman, the last fluent speaker of the Wukchumni language, created a dictionary of her tribes’ language and is actively working to teach younger generations.

A discussion of systemic racism on college campuses.  A recounting of the recent events at Mizzou and their connection to the past.

Friday link roundup 10/9

I just learned from a friend about “yarn bombing,” which is somewhat like graffiti or public art, except with crocheting or knitting.  I find it fascinating. See an example here.

John Oliver on Mental Health.  Poignant, funny, and worth taking the 12 minutes to watch.

Tips on supporting people with depression.

In Finland, they prioritize kindergartners learning through play.

The debate team from a correctional facility recently beat Harvard’s debate them.  Why we shouldn’t be surprised that convicted criminals won.