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* depression

February 5, 2016

In my youthful list of things to do/experience/achieve, depression wasn’t one of them. So for more years than depression-track-introI care to admit, I did my best to ignore it, which solved nothing. It got worse, so eventually, finally acting on my wife’s advice, I did ask to meet with our pastor to talk with him about it. When I told him of my depression, he smiled and said the reason he’d said “yes” so quickly to my asking for a time to meet was his assumption, based on how I looked and was acting, that I must be struggling with depression. He suggested I see a therapist. I indicated to him that I would prefer a therapist who was a Christian and he hooked me up with one and life has never been the same since. We met weekly for about a month as this new and very kind person in my life assessed where I was at. By the end of this time he felt I was in need of more than he could offer on his own, so he connected me with a psychiatrist he collaborates with.

This began what has been an 8 year journey of trying various combinations of meds. All the while seeing my faithful and oh so patient therapist. It’s also involved Partial (an intensive 2 to 3 week, 6 hours per day, 5 days per week small group training/support group), and Day treatment (less intensive, but still 4 hours per day, 3 days per week small group training/support that for me lasted 3 months). Most recently I’ve begun attending a weekly 1.5 hour Men’s Group where, while we’re quite diverse in a variety of ways, we have in common struggles with some similar things. I’ve also just started NAMI’s 12 week Family-to-Family training.

Has any one of these things proven to be the magic cure? No. But in combination they’ve been pretty powerful, to the point that now, with the recent addition of yet one more med I can at present claim to be in remission, a place I despaired of ever finding a year ago. So, thanks to a combination of what one of my pastors calls my “band of brothers,” together with the best meds available, I am at present doing much better. Thanks be to God!

And what is this depression thing? That’s harder to answer and I can only do it for myself. sail boatMy own journey through this valley.

When depression sets in I equate it to being an experience somewhat like that of finding oneself in a small sail boat, in what is becoming an increasingly rough ocean. As the waves of depression get bigger, I can only batten down the hatches, reef in the sail, drop the sea anchor and then hold on to the tiller, waiting for the waves to die down again.

Being mostly internal, it’s confusing for those who’ve known me to be much more outgoing and friendly than I am while this is happening. It’s loneliness without having much in the way of words to share with others. It’s fear without reason. It feels like the days are dark and foggy, even if they’re bright and sunny. It’s limiting my ventures out of the house to a small set of well-trodden (driven) paths. It’s a tiredness that is ever present (even after a long night’s sleep). It’s a brain that feels like its been shut down. It’s moving from believing there’s light at the end of tunnels to feeling that life has become one long, dark tunnel with no light at the end. Ever.

When did it start? About 15 years ago? I’m not sure. What triggered it? Anxiety I’ve lived with since being a little boy? Having to leave behind work I loved in Madagascar without finding something to replace it here in the US? Challenges from having worked at several less than healthy workplaces? I really don’t know.

I’m not sure the right words are “interestingly enough” but if they are, then interestingly enough, there appears to be a link between CMT and depression, in part triggered by the death of one’s periphery nerves. Time will tell how true this is.

So where does this leave me? At present in a better place than I’ve been for years. Does this mean I’m healed of it all? Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. But at present I am proof that one can, over time and with expert help, get better. Something I’ll need to remind myself the next time the waves of depression begin to grow. As, to hopelessly mix metaphors, there is light at the end of those tunnels.

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