miteypen

Depression

In Mood disorders on September 8, 2008 at 11:13 am

Yesterday I asked a lot of questions about my faith and religion in general. I still believe that this is something I need to deal with, but I can’t help but pose another question: how much of my inability to get where I want to go has to do with my chronic depression?

I’m reading a book right now titled The Beast: A Reckoning With Depression by Tracy Thompson. For the most part the text is a long tedious discussion of how she feels about her depression. But it does contain some valuable insights. One is that depression causes certain behaviors and then those behaviors in turn exacerbate the depression. I think another way to put it is that treating the depression is not enough; you also need to unlearn those adaptive behaviors. Or at least restructure them.

Thompson writes about her inability to connect with others intimately (she has plenty of friends). My problem might be that I connect too well intimately. I think I have used relationships in the past in two ways: one is that I hope the relationship will solve my problems and the other is that it distracts me from them, especially in the falling-in-love stage.

I am finally in a healthy relationship and one way I can tell is that I’m still uniquely me, even down to my problems. My husband doesn’t alleviate my anxieties and depression as much as provide a stable atmosphere so that I can attend to them myself. I have a safety net, but I’m still the one doing the live wire act above it. Without a man in my life who expects and even demands that I act in a certain way, I’m free to examine who I really am. I never thought of it in quite that way before.

That doesn’t mean that it’s easy. I’m 56 years old and there’s something to the belief that the older you get the more set in your ways you become. I can’t imagine becoming a different sort of person, one who isn’t so serious and even pessimistic about myself. I have a monkey on my back and it is me. I practice all sorts of self-defeating behaviors, not the least of which is my tendency to sit in the house and do nothing but write all day. I am a writer, so that’s not so weird in itself, but I don’t balance my life with other activities. I have very few friends, I belong to no organizations, and I only work part-time.

I know these things about myself, but I still I find it difficult to change. But I can’t help but ask: what is so bad about being who I am? Some people are introverted and solitary. I’ve always been this way. But then I’ve always been depressed and anxious. So how do I know how I’d really be if I weren’t?

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