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Ten Things I’ve Learned from My Depression – Guest Post by Surviving The Specter

tw-sign6The following is a guest post submitted by Chris over at Surviving the Specter and is published with his permission.

At the head of his post Chris places the following note: “Note to Reader: This post mentions my suicide attempt. If this is a trigger, please do not read it at this time. May peace find you in your valley, my friend.

So in compliance with my standard policy I am displaying the Trigger Warning sign in order to emphasise the need for caution.

Ten Things I’ve Learned from My Depression.

Survivingspecter1Hi there! My name is Chris and I’ve lived with clinical depression since middle school. On 9/14/14 attempted to take my life. I was saved by my friends who arrived after I had blacked out. In hindsight, these are the ten lessons my depression has taught me. Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

  1. My Faith. I was brought down this path for a purpose. Perhaps it was to build me to the next level, or strengthen my dependence on the Lord, or to bring me to humbleness in order to care for others. Either way, I’ve been able to learn the message from the lesson. And that is, that with the Lord’s help, I am surviving through what (at times) has been a tumultuous ordeal. I know I couldn’t do it on my own. And for that my faith has increased.
  2. Imperfection. My mantra has become, “I am perfectly imperfect, and that’s perfectly ok.” I had a hard time with feeling like a failure. With feeling like I let people down. With having a low self-esteem.

It was when I was attending classes in the psychiatric center that I had an epiphany. The world does stop rotating when I mess up or feel like I fail people. Others make mistakes, I’m allowed to as well. I ain’t perfect and will never be. I accepted it. I stopped the self-berating. I got my ego under control. I left the pity party. I’ve been able to allow grace for myself.

  1. Support Network. I never realized I had this until I “woke up” in the hospital two days after I chugged a bottle of sleeping pills and passed out at the end of a noose hanging from the closet doorknob in my bedroom.

Friends and family were there. In abundance. They had dropped everything to be by my side. They put their lives on pause and came from states away to be with me through my struggle. Unconditionally.

I hope that when that time comes for me, and the call is given, I can be there for those that need it in the same manner these folks were there for me. Generally, you don’t need a ton of people in your support network. You just need the right ones.

  1. Personal Accountability. In order to be released from the hospital, I had to take responsibility and become accountable for my actions. I needed to have a plan in place in for the times Specter decided to fade out of the shadows and peel back his lips over his razor incisors. Here are some things I am personally accountable for-

♦  COMPLIANCE – Taking my medicine consistently and on a regular basis.

♦  911 – I realized that I needed to have a plan in place. I now have people that I call if I feel I am having an episode of depression. We keep our phones on at night (I used to turn my volume/vibrate off) and answer without hesitation.

♦  HONESTY – I have to be transparent with my medical providers/doctors/psychologists. I know I need to give them as clear a picture of my mental state as possible and they are here to help me. In turn, they need to know the effects of the medications as well.

It’s a good idea to keep a journal. Since I’m not one for lugging a notebook around, I use my Evernote app on my phone. I also try to bring in all my meds whenever I have an appointment. It gives my doctor an accurate picture of my supply and whether or not I need an emergency refill. The last thing you want to happen is to run out of your medications. The. Last. Thing.

  1. Stumbling.There will be times when I fall. When Specter knocks me to the ground in an assault from-the-rear. This goes back to #2. I have to realize stumbling is ok. That I’m a human. And that I am imperfect. And that that is ok.
  2. Learning. Be willing to learn about your condition…your mental health. Read articles on it. Start a blog on your condition. Be open and receptive. Make connections with other people. Join a local NAMI group where your voice will be heard. Never stop learning about your mental health.
  3. Cognizance. It helps to be aware of your feelings. The cycles. The timing of the waves. Through recording my episodes (or simply noticing when they happen on a calendar) I used to almost be able to anticipate when I would have one – usually about every two weeks. Fall-down crying, broken on the kitchen floor. It’s not a good place to be. The medicine I have now minimizes those episodes (20 MG Lexapro with 2 MG Abilify) and evens out the highs and the lows of a life with depression.
  4.  Healing.Find what helps you in your journey of healing. Journaling is a very popular coping strategy. I experimented with the tech version of journaling recently – blogging. I started surviving the specter in February of this year (2015 as of this post) and it has helped me process my experiences, as well as network with individuals going through the same thing.
  5. Sharing.I’ve tried to share my story as much as possible with those whom are comfortable. I was attached to a belt for 45 minutes. I have been fortunate. I have been given a second chance and I believe I have a duty to be open about it. To discuss it. To teach about it. To join others in their struggle. You will never know how much hope you will be able to give someone by telling your story.
  6. Outlets. You need to have an outlet. Mine is art in one form or another. I like to create beach décor and I started a side business into which I channel my energy. It is a healthy outlet. I’m an introvert by nature and so I enjoy being by myself with my tools and materials, building, and creating. I get satisfaction from creating happiness for others. Ironically, this is the project I completed hours before my downward spiral. What’s your outlet? What channels your energy?

Survivingspecter2

[Editor’s Note:  Again my thanks go out to Chris from ‘surviving the specter‘ for sending this to me for publication here on the Guild’s blog.  As someone who struggles with suicidal thoughts and ideation I personally believe posts like these can be very useful and extremely helpful and so I would encourage members to pop over to Chris’s site and check out the other items he has written.

I should also perhaps mention that whilst Chris has made a reference to his personal faith within his post (and whilst I myself am a Christian), the guild is not specifically faith-based nor faith-focused.]

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23 comments on “Ten Things I’ve Learned from My Depression – Guest Post by Surviving The Specter

  1. This is great! I’m so sorry for all you have had to go though. I know just how hard it all is. I suffer with severe OCD and understand how hard it is to change your thought process and come to an understanding. This is such a beautiful list, I found myself nodding along while reading.

    • Thank you so much for your kind, supportive words. I am SO sorry that I am just now responding to this. I never got any alerts for the comments. I am really “glad” you could relate and that some of the things here struck a chord. Thank you again for your gracious comments, my friend.

      -Chris

      • Hi Chris,

        I am not certain what happened and I am sorry you didn’t get notifications of the comments. I believe (but am not certain) that, on a blog which is not your own, you will only receive notifications of comments if a) you have commented yourself and b) you have clicked the ‘Notify me of new comments via email.’ box before submitting your comment.

        Hope this clarifies things for you.

        Kind regards and God bless you.
        Kevin.

        • Kevin, no worries at all my friend. This was a blunder on my part and I do thank you for the explanation. I will make sure those settings are in place next time! Thank you for the information. i do appreciate it.

  2. Reblogged this on surviving the specter and commented:
    Kevin, thank you for accepting my guest post for the Mental Health Writers Guild. I encourage my readers to get involved with this blessed site and touch base with Kevin about submitting a guest post.

    -Chris

  3. thanks so much Chris and Kevin: currently I am in some nutty shaggy corner, where I think it’s all mixed up. But am a survivor. Your mantra is so cool and real

    • Hi Marie 🙂

      Thank you that is very kind of you, but all I do is click a few buttons 🙂

      Hope you are well?
      Kind regards and God bless you.

      Kevin

      • Kevin, Thanks. I am really trying. I don’t really know how I am doing right now, I just know I need so much blessings, strength and all the good will I can muster. All the best to you too 🙂

        • Hi Marie,

          Sounds like you are struggling a little. Please know that you will be in my prayers and if there is anything I can do other than praying please just let me know.

          Kind regards and God bless you.
          Kevin

    • Marie, I am SO so so so sorry I never responded to this. For some reason it never came up in my queue and I missed it. Thank you for your kind compliments. That mantra came to me while I was in the psychiatric facility after I hanged myself. I am a super harsh self-critic but through the Lord’s Grace and that mantra, I am able to push through, even though it may be the hardest thing to do at the time. I’ll swing over and peruse your blog. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts 🙂

  4. Kudos on your positivity despite what sounds like a lifetime of depression, Chris. There are some great lessons here!

    • Thank you, Jill. Sorry this has taken so long to respond to. For some reason I didn’t get any alerts and the only reason I’ve seen these comments is because I went back to reference something from this post. My apologies. Thank you so much for your kind comments, my friend 🙂

  5. Reblogged this on Labeled Disabled.

  6. #3 was huge for me too and I thank you for sharing this with us.

    • Christy, thank you so much for your positive feedback. My apologies for never getting back to you. I never received alerts for any of the responses to this post. I’m thankful Kevin let me share this post.

  7. Like you, I’ve also struggled with depression since I was really young. I didn’t realize that what I was feeling wasn’t normal for everyone else until I was in high school. It’s helpful to read about other people who also have similar struggles with clinical depression. I really liked what you said about being accountable for the feelings that you experience on a day to day basis. I’ve never talked to anyone about my depression before, so I would like to see a doctor to talk to about my problems and possibly get on some medication. What was your experience like finding the right medication for your depression symptoms? I’ve heard that sometimes it takes a while to find the right prescription.

  8. Deanna, I am so very sorry that I never responded to your beautiful words. I never received alerts to any of the comments that came in. I’m glad you were able to take something away from my post. To answer your question about medication, yes finding the right medication took years. I feel like none of them “clicked” until the ones I was given while I was in the psychiatric facility after hanging myself. I always felt like a zombie…never happy. I wanted to be happy. So bad. And once you find the right one, the effects can wear off after a while and the search begins all over again.

    Thank you again for your comments, my friend.

    -Chris

  9. […] This is a reblog from a post I wrote for the Mental Health Writer’s Guild. Check out the wonderful work Kevin has done with the site and ask him about being a guest blogger! […]

  10. […] 1.   First of all, it’s really fun. If you need proof, reach out to the bloggers who have been kind and giving enough to write a post on this blog. They’d be happy to share. Check out Sass’ and morgueticiaatoms guest posts. They were WON.DER.FUL. (Thank you again, ladies X) Also check out the guest post I did for the Mental Health Writer’s Guild. […]

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