Posts Tagged ‘reflection’

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.

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A night of inspiration.

One day, Glennon Doyle Melton told her husband that she knew what she was meant to be: a truth teller. He paused and said, “Damn. Don’t you have any other marketable skills?”

When Glennon Doyle Melton started speaking at the First Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque on Friday, she began with stories with anecdotes that made the audience laugh. And perhaps her anxiety may have contributed to her zany openness, and perhaps that is how and who she is: Storyteller. Truth teller. Someone who adds humor, vulnerability, and emotional range and depth to what she shares.

I admire her generosity and her uncensoredness. Personally, she inspires me to be real, genuine; to have faith that I grow and create myself; to have my own path of living and healing; choose where and when to be vulnerable.
Sometimes it’s about voicing deep thoughts
or helping others in heartbreaking situations
or about shaking on the bathroom floor, and deciding to live
and redefining myself again and again and again until I come to the truest place
which sometimes involves more unbecoming than becoming
and throwing out the messages about perfection and hiding emotions
and deciding to allow human-ness through
and creating spaces to share where I can tell give the real answer to the question and not the one I’m supposed to say.

As I drive away that night

I’m so grateful for this night of laughter and depth and vulnerability
that inspires me to think:
I feel lucky to be me.

Other notes from the evening, so I can remember what she shared:

Self-betrayal is when you hear that voice of knowing – that still small voice – and do not do what it says.

“We should not be afraid of our pain, we should be afraid of our easy buttons.”

“We stop caring what we want because were are working hard to be wanted.”
Unbecome the things you thought you were to become a truer version of yourself

“When you ask a woman who she is, she often answers with
who she loves and who she serves.”
Crisis comes from a word meaning “to sift.”
Through rock bottom, we find what is left over when all else falls through.

It’s not the pain that takes us out. It’s the shame about the pain takes us out of the game.

“I decided to write like someone who has never heard of shame and believes she is forgiven.”