Depression thoughts

Depression: Hello Darkness my Old Friend…

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(This post on Depres­sion is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the post Heart Screen­ing for Car­diac Myx­o­mas)

A cou­ple of days have past since my trans­esophageal echocar­dio­g­ra­phy (TOE). And I’ve had a very hard time not let­ting the news about my 3rd car­diac myx­o­ma pull me into a world of numb­ness and grey scaled vision. I am fight­ing the urge to resist it. Resist­ing ends in me usu­al­ly falling in. Nope! I will take the steps need­ed to be pre­pared for the descent. My lad­der already shoul­dered I head towards the entrance. More deter­mined than ever that I will climb down on my own terms. Not afraid of what lies below. As well as allow­ing myself the time nec­es­sary to cope with hav­ing yet anoth­er myx­o­ma and requir­ing yet anoth­er surgery.

My Depression Hole

depression hole depicted as an old well shaft
Source: Leo Bren­nan; edited.

You might have heard it called the dark hole of depres­sion, I’ll be call­ing it my depres­sion hole. It’s a scary but yet very famil­iar place.
My seem­ing­ly bot­tom­less pit looks and feels like an old aban­doned well shaft – made up of nat­ur­al stone, which is numb­ing­ly cold to the touch. I used to think that the only light source was from the open­ing at the top. For the longest time the illu­mi­nat­ed cir­cle above my head was the size of a pin­head and hard­ly notice­able. It con­sis­tent­ly felt pitch black down here and very oppres­sive. Lean­ing against the walls left me cold and numb, which is why I hud­dled up in the mid­dle. My one and only goal: to get out of here. Des­per­ate­ly want­i­ng and need­ing col­or back in my life. Each attempt at free climb­ing failed though.

As a teenag­er it felt like I would fall straight into depres­sion. No tran­si­tion, no fore­warn­ing signs. Just bam! I’d hit the ground – flat on my face. It’s nev­er been a place I want­ed to be stuck in. I say place because it feels like being cut off from the world around me and like being stuck in a deep and dark hole for an indef­i­nite peri­od of time.

How to suc­ceed at get­ting out and cop­ing remained a mys­tery to me for sev­er­al years. At times I even gave up all hope of ever mak­ing it out. The scratch marks along the wall a sore reminder of my unsuc­cess­ful attempts. The most chal­leng­ing parts about being in the depres­sion hole are: that it is home to some­one I have since come to call my sabo­teur; it is also a direct entry way to an even dark­er part of myself – my dark Abyss. And then there are out­side vis­i­tors who can be a real chal­lenge to deal with too.

I’m not helpless or powerless down here!

I had to do a lot of hard work, which at times also meant seing a coun­selor. Even­tu­al­ly I was able to adapt to a mind­set which allowed me to take back some con­trol. Rather than see­ing my depres­sion hole as a murky and clam­my dun­geon, I learned that I could view it as my base from where I oper­at­ed from. I famil­iar­ized myself with it as well as the out­side vis­i­tors, my dark Abyss and my sabo­teur. I fig­ured out:

  • What I need­ed to be com­fort­able down here.
  • What kind of peo­ple I want­ed around me dur­ing my stay.
  • Who in my social net­work of fam­i­ly and friends I could ask for help.
  • What signs to look out for before slip­ping ever so close­ly to the rim of the well (so not to fall in).
  • That I could use my very own lad­der to climb in and out.
  • The scratch marks on the wall could be filled in. Mak­ing them vanish.
  • Where (or rather at what lev­el in the shaft) I am stuck, is depen­dent on where my focus lies. And where I am stuck has an influ­ence on how much light actu­al­ly gets in too.

The most important lesson…

…how­ev­er was that I am not con­fined to this hole. I can climb out and spend a cou­ple of hours out­side. Prefer­ably doing some activ­i­ty that makes me feel bet­ter, men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly. The only catch was that I had to stay con­nect­ed to my well. The col­ors I got to see still were grey­ish but after every vis­it out­side I could dif­fer­en­ti­ate more and more shades of grey. This lead to my sec­ond most impor­tant real­iza­tion: I do see col­ors. I just see them mut­ed but they are there. They might not be as bright and radi­ant but they can be con­sid­ered col­ors nonetheless.

You could say I turned my stone well ‘prison’ into a safe haven to do some soul search­ing and soul work. I still don‘t like hav­ing to climb down there. Although it‘s cer­tain­ly turned into a bet­ter place over the years and it’s become eas­i­er to cope with. I try my best not to see depres­sion as a bad thing. Dif­fi­cult as it can be I choose to see it as a call to work on some unre­solved issues as well as a time to take good care of myself.

…I’ve come to talk with you again 

My lad­der shoul­dered I approached the ledge and heed­ed the call of my dark Abyss. I knew there was a lot of work ahead of me. This time how­ev­er I was ready. I would not fall in and I would not con­cern myself with what my sabo­teur or any­one else had to say. And most impor­tant­ly, my needs would have to come first. No more pour­ing from an emp­ty cup. As I extend­ed my lad­der into the well shaft I could feel some­one take hold of it below. I knew it to be my sabo­teur. Eager to wel­come me back into her home.

To be continued…

You might also want to read:
- Sabo­teur
- The Out­side Visitors

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