Monday, August 1, 2016
Depression as a Symptom, not a Disease
I have done a tremendous amount of soul searching, therapy, and research since then. I have a much broader vocabulary for expressing what I felt at the time and where it all came from.
One of the things that contributed to my decompensation was that I started reaching out to people for help. When I did that, I was put on probation with my husband and everyone I knew and interacted with on a regular basis was told not to contact me. I lost my entire support system and became trapped in what felt like a jail cell with the very person I was trying to get away from.
Much of what I was feeling in depression was terminal aloneness. In this link, Lilly Hope Lucario describes perfectly the terrible loneliness I had been chronically experiencing then and after.
Another piece of it was that I felt like I was living in a war zone. I was completely stressed out and couldn't cope. The three cup theory perfectly illustrates what that felt like. Stress, anxiety, and depression were symptoms. SSRI's masked those symptoms and sedated me. However, the meds were not fixing the problem. In fact, if I hadn't been on medication, I would have left 4 or 5 months before I actually did.
I did learn in that 5 month period between losing trust and coming close to a nervous breakdown and actually leaving was how to stop enabling. With the help of my therapist, we started setting boundaries, communicating my needs, and extracting myself from behaviors that enabled. The more independence I gained, the more bizarre monitoring behavior looked. The more I asked for positive support, the more heinous and demeaning the criticisms looked. I began to see that as his control over me failed, the lashing out, lies, and disrespect got more characterized.
Learning not to bail anyone else out, make excuses for their inappropriate behavior, and trying not to make up for someone else's behavior has been in the mix of what I've learned. It's difficult to unlearn bad habits that have seemed normal in all the environments I've lived in. I'm getting better at self-reflection, self regulation and monitoring, and withdrawing from others antisocial behavior. Part of that is about not letting the bad behavior of others reflect on your self worth. That was a biggy for me, but I decided that people don't judge me based on what someone in my world is doing, unless I'm contributing. The other side of that is you shouldn't be associated with someone who regularly acts like an immature, conniving bully.
So, here I am at 34, learning how to be an adult. I am trying to be more discerning about who I associate with. My best friends are empathetic, understanding, thoughtful, good listeners, compassionate, and open-minded. They are all big-hearted and want to learn how to be more productive, successful, and happy members of society. We are all learning together. I'm going to delve much further into enabling in my future posts. It is insidious and an easy trap to fall into. The hard effort to chose alternative behavior is well worth it though.