“What if in childhood or adolescence, at at time when we did not have the life skills we now have, we experienced overwhelming feelings of being abandoned, abused, lonely, or just plain no good? Sadly, we now know that many people who become depressed as adults have had such experiences. If for us they were a significant part of childhood, the thinking patterns that made us depressed then, the sense that we are not good in some way, are highly likely to be reactivated in the present by even a passing feeling of depression.” – Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zidel Segal, Jon Kabat-Zinn, The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness
The thing about depression is that it can come on suddenly. With my most recent episode, I remember the obtrusive thoughts just started coming. There was absolutely no warning. Since this was not my first depression, I knew there was not much I could do about it. Some people get auras that a depression is coming on. When the suicidal ideations started coming, I knew that I was in trouble. My anxiety arose in the form of panic attacks. It was intense. Anxiety and depression go hand in hand. All the signals of a major depression manifested and the level of my psychic pain was a ten. My thinking accelerated and I became totally gripped by depression. It got so bad that I hearing and seeing things. My mind was playing tricks on me. I knew I was in trouble, and I was concerned about hurting myself. I was feeling suicidal.
My biggest fear was the “fear of losing control.” This is a pretty common fear for depressives. I also feared failure, rejection, and social settings. I was not capable of allowing myself to have these feelings. When I became anxious, I would feel light-headed. Sometimes, I would feel short of breath. I knew my thoughts were not rational. It was like a switch was turned off. I was filled with internal struggle. The fight to control these thoughts and obsessions overwhelmed me and I was never at peace. My mind would not let me accept these thoughts. Sometime, I though I was hearing voices, but it was my imagination. I would find myself paralyzed, obsessing and ruminating about whether I was going to kill myself.
To get in to see a psychiatrist immediately was nothing short of a miracle. But I have been fortunate and thankful that, when I’ve had suicidal thoughts, or thoughts about hurting myself, I have been able to seek out professional help. Through all my depressions, I have lost count of the number of psychologists and psychiatrists I’ve seen.
The whole question about who I am and what my purpose has kept hammering me. Pretending to be happy is ridiculous and tiring. I was the smiling depressive. I did not like conflict. Anxiety accompanied that. Avoiding conflict may or may not be the best path to take, but I found that internal conflict most tiring. A life without some type of internal conflict is probably a boring life. A life that avoids conflict does not all of growth. It would seem that conflict could indeed, be something that helps creation. At least, this what I though I heard or read somewhere. Therefore, if you attempt to change or to take a risk, there should no shame in failure . The shame would come from not making the attempt to get up and try again.
In the prologue of Thomas Merton’s book, No Man is an Island, he states: ” No matter how ruined man and his world may seem to be, and no matter how terrible man’s despair may become, as long as he continues to be a man his very humanity continues to tell him that life has a meaning. That, indeed, is one reason why many tends to rebel against himself. I take this to heart. If there were not problems, would life be worth living?” I take this sentiment to heart.
I feel that my more recent depressions have been more existential – there seemed to be no meaning to my life. Questions about why I am here and what is the purpose of this depression have been more common with my most recent depressions that with previous episodes. Consequently, these depressions have been worse in some ways than the ones I experienced earlier in my life.
As an adult, I admit to being a “wounded child.” While is sound cliche, I accept the statement that everybody has a “wounded child” inside of them. I have a “wounded child” inside of me. I continue to question myself: Are my emotions mine or am I my emotions? Are my memories mine or am I my memories? I like to think of emotions and memories as attachments. Easter philosophy discusses memories and emotions as attachments and postulates that we are larger than the summation of both. I think that my orientation is either trapped in the past or concerned about the future.
As a child I felt abandonment, isolation, shame, loneliness, and anger. So I guess it’s not surprising that these feelings can still well up inside and overwhelm me when I’m not feeling adequate, or something suddenly triggers those emotions and throws back into a depressive state. I get to the point where I can only pretend to be happy. I question the meaning of life-my life.