Do you feel depressed? Has it been a slow build that now has reached the point of having to do something about it? Let me tell you about my journey with depression and what it is like to live in recovery.
It was 8 years ago, I was sitting in my living room and I received a message from my daughter’s theatre teacher about a situation with another child in the class. I had reached my breaking point. I got up, walked out the back door, and into the back of our home where there are 40 acres of newly cleared trees. I felt numb, I did not know where I was going, I just needed to get away.
Up until this time, I had depressive symptoms but since I was a mental health professional, I knew what I had to do - eat well, exercise, sleep and show gratitude in my life. This may work for some, but for me - adding stress of a new job in leadership, my inability to set boundaries and say no to things like - being the board president of the community theatre, and my only child now having conflict due to my position on the board - well, that was IT for me. I have a family history of depression, so it is not surprising that I was provided the inability to cope with a strong physical need to sleep all the time. In therapy, I learned that I was the queen of disassociation which I honed as a child. I disassociate by throwing myself into projects and work so that I do not have to feel my feelings. I put all others’ needs ahead of my own due to the programming that I received as a child. I then chose a profession as a social worker - the professional fixer of all problems. I am a true codependent personality (also in recovery); add moving into management - it is like codependency on crack - but that is another blog post.
“Kim, what about recovery?” you ask. My husband had concern, since sitting on the couch reading an email, and then heading out the back door without a word was an odd occurrence. He found me in the “back 40.” I looked at him and said, “I can’t do this anymore, I think I need help.” So, I made an appointment with my primary care provider. She provided me with a depression screen and spoiler alert -I was depressed. At that time, moderate to severe depression but I was not suicidal or homicidal - so, some good news. She asked me if I needed something that would help with my depression and also give me a kick in the ass. I said, “ Yes please,” as my constant state of lethargy was wearing thin. Surrendering, I started on my first antidepressant - Effexor XR. This was a big deal, as I had been resistant to taking medications up until this point. Nothing else was working; I was in therapy but to me it was clear I needed reinforcements. I started on the medication and disliked the side effects greatly. I took it for about 2 weeks and then stopped. I shared this with my friend and she scolded me, “You did not even give it a chance - what would you say to a client if they were in your position?” “Fine. You are right.” Reluctantly, I started taking the medication again. It is interesting how antidepressants work - it is a slow influencer of the brain. After a while, you realize that you are more happy than angry (in my case) and I felt like my true self. I then started sharing that I wish I had started on medication much sooner. It is not an immediate impact (at least not for me); much like a slow change from dark to light.
My life continued on with lots of great experiences and some stressful ones. I had a friend die from cancer, transitioned out of an organization where I worked for 19 years, and started my own business. I am living a great life. In 2017, I decided to wean off my antidepressant (because that is what one does when they feel great), and was off the medication from March until August 2018. At that time, I felt the bitch within me coming back. I felt irritable, cursing a lot more often and having less tolerance for situations and people in general. I did not like this version of me, so back on the medication I went.
This is recovery for me. It may look differently for others. People take antidepressants, people choose not to and are able to manage their symptoms with alternative methods. The correct treatment is the treatment that works for you. PLEASE - if you are feeling depressed, go see your primary care provider - have them screen you. There are effective medications and great therapies out there. Depression is not a character flaw, you can not “will” it away. Do not let time go by where you can feel joy rather than despair. Talk to someone who understands what it is like to be in the hole and not know how, nor have the energy, to get out. Treatment is the way out. Go get some.
It has been quite a while since I have written a blog. Blogs are interesting to me, as you can write about anything, and since my website is quiet, likely not many will read it. So I am in the spirit of spring, and rebirthing many things in my life (like this blog). I want to share some blessings in a time of uncertainty with our communities.
I made a decision to move to an on-line platform with my small private practice; ironically COVID 19 helped that plan move quickly. I am blessed because I had made the decision to move on-line and was not forced to make the change like many other therapists. I truly have enjoyed learning the new tools, re-launching my brand and feeling more comfortable about who I am. The best part is connecting to new virtual communities, meeting professionals who are learning like me, and finding fantastic coaches. I appreciate the leaders who give so much of themselves to help us, help others. To be new at something is hard but I am fortunate because it is being done in "my free time." I continue to work as a social work leader in a local medical system - which I love. My private practice, is all mine which is lovely. I do not have to get approval from anyone - I am the business - and I have heard that I am a pretty good boss. So far I have no complaints, except that I would like a few more clients but my "boss" tells me they will find me, so I have no worries.
The best thing about creating a business is that I get to make mistakes and learn from them. That may sound like a nightmare for some people, but I truly believe we learn the best lessons when we make mistakes. You should have seen how many different versions my website has gone through. I have taken so many selfies - a LOT of video do overs and now I am learning about the next level of marketing. I am creating videos, learning about making "pretty posts", posting them on my business Facebook page and then it got hacked! Luckily, I had many people share this with me quickly and I reset
"all the things," and all is well. This business is homemade - so it is not polished but it is a true version of me. Please check in from time to time to see what happens next.
Some people may question why one would want a house blessing. To be clear, I am not a paranormal investigator or am I going to walk in and sense spirits in your closets. However I am perceptive of energy, most of us are. Did you just move into a space? Have you been dealing with an illness (physical or mental), arguing with a family member - having family discord, gone through a loss, or just did a remodel or deep clean. This is a perfect time to reset the energy in the space. Smudging with some herbs, using sounds of singing bowl or chime, using Reiki energy are all tools to re-balance the energy. Some may feel this is symbolic, others feel the difference when a blessing is performed. A positive energy boost will only be temporary if the people who live in the space do not find balance within themselves. If you are fighting with your partner after the blessing - energy is going to dip down again. Depending on what challenges you face, you could benefit from Reiki and/or counseling to find the balance and joy you seek. Everyone deserves happiness. However we are in charge of our own happiness. Find what is getting in your way, address it and move forward. If you continue to revisit what is making you unhappy and no steps have been taken to find a solution - you will remain in the same place - you may blame others, but it is your deal. It sucks but it is true. It takes effort to make a change - you may find that you have to make tough decisions. It is a risk to change -- although the situation you are in is impacting your happiness, the thought of change causes too much stress - it is easier just to keep the status quo. I get it -- much like weight loss. You hate having 30 extra pounds, but continuing to eat the same food, sleeping that extra hour is much easier than getting up to exercise or eating vegetables instead of ice cream. We hate the extra weight but changing the habit is hard -- we don't lose the 30 pounds in a week so it is very easy to just deal with the weight. At some point - you will be ready for that change, ready to take the risk, ready to be happy. Best regards in your journey.
So Mercury is in retrograde, stress is surrounding me, too much to do and too little time. Can you relate? My daughter is turning 13 in a month, she is doing great in school and going to be the lead in Guys and Dolls this weekend. She is also in her first Community Theater show and has had rehearsal all week for The Little Mermaid opening in June - her birthday weekend. Not to mention she is doing standardize testing in public school... is flirting with boys, is going to be in a parade with her band in a week. She seems unfazed, however typing this makes me tired. Work has been unstable, stressful and especially challenging. I have staff who are passionate about patient outcomes (meaning - throwing fits to get what they want), executives worrying about the bottom line (meaning - not wanting to spend $$ on providing what my staff want) and Supervisors who are losing their minds as they are trying to make everyone happy. Me -- I am the boss, trying to keep everyone from going ballistic. It is almost Friday -- one more day until the weekend. I do love my weekends. I am very fortunate that I like my husband, we have a lot in common and we only have one kid so we get to spend great quality time together.
What is my point? In reviewing my week, I am aware of the self care that I have provided. I got a good amount of sleep 7-8 hours a night, meditated about 3 times this week (goal is at least 5, but I did better than last week) and although very busy, had some quality time with my husband. My daughter was at the theater most evenings but seems pretty happy. When my family is happy, I am happy. When my work family is unhappy it makes me concerned but I know what to do to help them. I focus on what we can control and remind everyone that each of us are doing the best we can in the moment. Everything is a learning experience and tomorrow we will be wiser and have more empathy than the day before. So take a deep breathe, hold it, and let it go with the stress of the day. We will all be wiser and more balanced tomorrow.