Victory through Depression

Victory over depression. Those were the words that triggered me. 

You see, I tried that for a really long time – to rise up, to fight. 

But there are some battles that can’t be won through fighting. My victory over depression doesn’t look like life going back to normal. My victory looks like everything changing.

Depression taught me. It taught me to listen, to surrender. It taught me to appreciate the unknown, value the  hidden. 

From the moment I entered therapy, I was counseled that my depression was a mystery – not a battle, not a problem, not a crucifix. 

It has felt like a crucifix. It has felt like a problem. It has felt like a battle. 

It has always been a mystery, a mystery I value. 

When someone says “victory over depression”, I must shake my head negatively and say – 

Victory through depression. 

Candidly, 

Ash

No Emergency Exit Here

I wish I had something insightful to say. I wish I could cull something deep and meaningful to the surface.

I do not have insight.

Today, I sat on my bed staring out the window in a haze of apathy. On the same window, I noticed a sticker that says “For Emergency Exit”. It basically tells how to open the window.

I was struck by the words, because I have wanted to exit life. Life has felt like a plane dive-bombing due to lost engines – full emergency mode.

But there are no emergency exits here.

So my insight today is that life sucks. Things feel bleak. I suppose this is depression.

Hello, old friend.

Candidly,

Ash

Disorganized Memories

Yesterday, I tried writing about a time in our lives when our finances were a huge mess. We lost our house, moved to a tiny apartment and started over. Yet, I struggled to summon memories from this time in my life.

That’s when it occurred to me that I have some unprocessed pain. My brain is clearly trying to protect me from the pain of remembering, but what if I don’t want to be protected anymore? What if I want to explore this and learn from it, process it? How do I break through to the memories?

I think part of the process is just recognizing that the block is there, keeping me from something. It’s frustrating though, because I want to wade through this in an organized manner. I want to get to the other side of it and see the lessons learned, the final outcome.

Life’s troubles aren’t processed that way though.

They come in patches and glimpses, minutiae and pieces. Our job is to sit with each little thing and work through it until the next thing comes.

Man, that sucks.

Candidly,

Ash

Honor the Girl Inside

I used to push through things. Difficult things. Easy things. Dwelling on problems or negatives didn’t solve anything. I had to keep going.

After my stay in the hospital that all changed. In therapy, I was able to recognize that part of the reason I wanted to end it all was that I had pushed through things too many times. I was living a life that I didn’t want.

For most of the time since then, going on four years, my goal has been to listen to myself and honor the things I feel. For several years, this meant waking up to suicidal thoughts, sharing them with my husband and him staying home or calling a friend to stay with me. It hasn’t been an easy road.

These days, I don’t wake with suicidal thoughts very often. I believe a steady practice of listening to myself has helped me create a life I want to live.

Like (probably) many people, I still have days when I wake up without motivation, not wanting to do the things the day requires of me. Today was one of those days. It has me walking around sad, consuming caffeine to feel strong and equipped for the next thing. It hurts to push myself, but maybe sometimes that is okay?

Harder than pushing myself is discovering what I need, because it feels incredibly like something is missing. So I go through the motions and I try to listen to the sway of my feelings, while still keeping up with the day. I find this to be infinitely harder than the pushing onward.

Honoring the girl inside.

THAT is the real struggle in these days.

Sepia-toned Rainbows

I worry that my medication affects my ability to write. It has me so stable that I don’t feel those highs and lows anymore. I miss them. I never thought I would miss those vicious swings, but I do.

The rational part of me says this stability is a good thing. I really can’t argue with her. She points out things like functioning well and making good decisions. She tries to remind me that I wanted to die so badly that a lot of times I needed someone with me. She has lots of good points.

Then there is the side of me that feels things. I don’t want to call it the irrational side, because I don’t think feeling is irrational. She says to observe my life and see if I notice the beautiful things just as much as the difficult things. I don’t. I see glasses half empty all around. She says to pause and see if you can sit in silence doing nothing. I can’t. She says to whisper sweet nothings and play with the children. I can’t.

I believe this is the point where maybe someone who is bi-polar considers going off the medication or cutting back.

It’s so hard to live life in sepia tones when you’ve been full spectrum for so long.

Perhaps this is the hard part of being diagnosed at 34 years old. I have lived a good amount of life in the struggle and in the beautiful. What if stable isn’t what I want? What if I want the ups and downs?

What if I can’t have them?

Candidly,

Ash

Mysteries of Sadness

The sky is cloudy today and that is how my heart feels. Clouds of sadness come and go.

Why am I even sad?

I wonder if I am the only one who experiences mysterious sadness. I don’t even know where it comes from until I sit with it for like ten hours. Perhaps that is how badly I had boxed in my sadness. I used packing tape on all sides of that box.

I wonder if there will ever come a time when all of my past sadness stops bubbling to the surface.

As I sit with this sadness today, I know it is about being enough. I have seen other children grow so that their autism doesn’t affect things as dramatically as Evan. I have stood next to moms and hashed out the problems. I have done the things they have done.

But he isn’t cured. He isn’t healed.

And I can’t help wondering if it was me.

Maybe I didn’t push hard enough, try enough.

Maybe it’s me.

Maybe I don’t have to buy into those thoughts.

But what would that even look like?

I cannot say.

Candidly,

Ash

Part of Being Human

Let’s face it – rejection pretty much always hurts. I applied for a job recently that I didn’t even want. Big surprise – I didn’t get it. (Can’t imagine why….)

It still hurt! Even though I didn’t want it. Maybe especially because I didn’t want it.

The reality is I often go for things I don’t want so that I can fill a whole that I don’t know how to fill.

It’s that void thing I talk about all of the time.

Searching for meaning, purpose, etc.

I often think affirmation will fill that void so I do things to please others or try for things I don’t really want, hoping I’ll get that little bit of affirmation.

If affirmation filled the void, then I think mine would be full. I do have people who love me and affirm me. try to affirm myself.

Why haven’t I learned that people pleasing and even self-affirming don’t fill the void? Why do I keep completing the same types of circles in my life? When will I learn?

I’m probably being too hard on myself. Sigh.

There is a part of me that says The Void isn’t meant to be filled by anything other than God. That is the way I was raised. Unfortunately, in years of seeking God, I still have this emptiness.

I suppose maybe it is because I have bi-polar disorder, but I know other people who feel the void too – and they don’t have bipolar disorder.

What is the void, this emptiness?

Maybe its just humanity.

Candidly,

Ash