The 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.
Hi 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
[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.]