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Depression is not my boss

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Depression is not my boss

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Parental Guidance

  • Joel
  • December 15, 2019 06:26:56 PM
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Dealing With Depression I have lied to myself about depression for all my adult life. Masking it, concealing it, never saying its name. Telling my complete story, through this depression blog and online platform could help someone else get relief from the destructive actions of depression so underhandedly inflicts. Get Depression Help and Guidance I welcome you to join me as I share my day-to-day effort of living and learning about depression whether you’re looking for information on how to help someone with depression or getting guidance for yourself. My mantra – Depression is Not my Boss.

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    People thought I was dead

    That is a very sobering thought. Six weeks after getting out of the hospital, I finally contacted my mentor. He had been checking the obituaries. And while I had stayed in touch with another person for over two years, I feel off the grid last summer and stopped responding to her emails. I had the... The post People thought I was dead appeared first on My Concealed...

    People thought I was dead, when I had depression and stopped returning their emails

    That is a very sobering thought.

    Six weeks after getting out of the hospital, I finally contacted my mentor.

    He had been checking the obituaries.

    And while I had stayed in touch with another person for over two years, I feel off the grid last summer and stopped responding to her emails.

    I had the nerve, finally, to reach out today. Here’s what she wrote:

    I am so glad to hear from you! I’ve been so worried. I knew something was wrong and quite frankly,

    every once in awhile I googled just to see if an obituary would come up.

    I can’t tell you how relieved I am! I’m so sorry to hear of your struggles, but it sounds like you did what you needed to do for your own health and well being. And thank goodness for that!

    People care about me.

    Wow, I never really thought about that. I mean, there have been times in my life that having people care about me mattered. But knowing that people care about me was never a huge priority. They were certainly welcome to do that, and it is heart-warming to know I have many, many friends.

    But having people who really care about me?

    I am still in shock that someone felt I was valuable enough to wonder whether I had taken my life. She actually thought about me from time to time. I am floored. After my hospitalization for depression, it has been my mission for the past year to value myself, just as I am, no titles, just me.

    This has been very, very hard.

    READ MORE: What lens am I looking at myself through?

    My entire life, so far, has been me, in relation to my job, my family, my hobbies, my writing, my side businesses. I have used all of this to run away from me. I am too busy to face me. Too busy to understand my strengths and areas of opportunities. Too busy to face my depression.

    And then, one day, I was up against the wall, and only saw three choices.

    READ MORE: Up against the wall – 10 unhelpful thinking styles

    This watershed moment has defined me for the past year. My first days out of the hospital was spent consuming everything I could to understand depression and how to live with it.

    I have read books, articles, spoke to Psychiatrists, therapists, peer support, gone to all kinds of meetings. In October, I flew to Chicago for the 25th International SMART Conference.

    By November, being the overachiever, I am, I had taken and passed three SMART RECOVERY courses.

    This makes me able, with supervision, to start a SMART Recovery group. In fact, I was invited to consider starting one for a non-profit that had just gotten a grant for 5 new meetings in five local counties.

    That idea kind of went to my head, but very quickly I reminded myself that I first need to get my house in order, putting my oxygen mask on, before helping others.

    I set out to learn how to live as myself, first. Then I can help others again. I am sharing my blog with the world in the hopes others will see that there is hope, even when everything seems darkest. But I am still writing to work out my own ideas about emotions and living in the moment.

    Until I have a better idea of how to live a balanced life with depression, other activities must take a back seat.

    My concealed depression is written under the alias “Depression is not my boss.” I have certifications in SMART Recovery and am a Global Career Development Facilitator.

    Last year, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.

    The post People thought I was dead appeared first on My Concealed Depression.


    I’m early for my therapy appointment

    I am always early. If I am on time, I feel like I am late. Waiting in the parking lot for my therapist to arrive, I have scrolled through more Facebook than I usually do in a week. I had to decide whether to drive home from work just long enough to turn around and... The post I’m early for my therapy appointment appeared first on My Concealed...

    I am always early.

    If I am on time, I feel like I am late. Waiting in the parking lot for my therapist to arrive, I have scrolled through more Facebook than I usually do in a week.

    I had to decide whether to drive home from work just long enough to turn around and go back out the door or be very early. Had I been able to leave a little earlier from work, I would have gone home first.

    So, I am spending some self-care time sitting in the parking lot, waiting for my therapist to arrive.

    There have been a few people driving by. My therapists’ building is among other medical buildings, which, at 6 PM, are mostly empty. Out on the street, I see two people standing at a respectable “social distancing” space. She is leaning, kind of, against what turned out to be her car. He is on the road but blocked by what turns out to be his car.

    They may have been observing “social distancing,’ but from my vantage point, their body language implied they were much closer.

    Were I in the storytelling business, I would flesh out the scene and create backstories for each? For instance, why are they meeting on the street? What is their true relationship? Co-workers, lovers? It is easy for me to let my mind wander and imagine all sorts of possible scenarios. Maybe she has a kidney she is considering donating to his Mother. I can scroll off the page very quickly.

    READ MORE: Seven journaling topics anyone can use

    But instead of going down the fortune-telling path of unhelpful thinking about this couple, I flipped back to the first page on my tablet and worked on my list of topics for my therapy session.

    My list included four areas to discuss:

    1. The upcoming first anniversary of my hospitalization for MDD (Major Depressive Disorder)
    2. How my wife and I are handling each other?
    3. My role as caregiver for my Mother, and the role my siblings have taken on
    4. Self-care and how I am using that

    We were able to cover all four areas in the 50 minutes I had.

    This was very helpful to me, to talk out some of what is going on. Covid19 was broached in relation to every topic I had on my list. Also, I spent time talking about my relationship with depression as I approach my first anniversary.

    I can relate to that. I have worked very hard to be mindful of how I view depression. Being careful about my attitude has also kept me from all the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” stuff I might get involved in. In fact, I have made a conscious effort not to put energy into “shoulding” on myself. There is no ROI in that, and it only depletes my stores of energy, the energy I could use to move forward.

    My goal is to not make depression the enemy but to make it just a part of who I am.

    I cannot escape depression, but I can minimize its influence. And the more I focus on not having depression, the more it focuses on pulling me down towards the abyss. So, I am re-writing my internal scripts to just accept depression, without reinforcing its dominance in the pack.

    I sing I eat, my hair is turning gray, I am a manager, I have depression.

    All of these are facts. Making more out of any one of these can change how I view myself. I am not going to let depression have the satisfaction of dragging into its secretive, unhelpful thinking. I can recognize what is going on now and change my attitude towards that type of thinking. Now my mind is racing.

    I want to be early to the landfill, taking over our trash and recycling.

    So, I will stop here. I don’t know why I feel I must explain my actions to anyone reading this, but for some reason, I feel responsible for how this blog post ends. I want it to end as a recognizable ending, not simply an “I’m done writing” kind of ending.

    I’m sure I will have more to say about that later.

    READ MORE: Today I wish I was sad

    And, I want to write more about the bumper sticker quote my therapist gave me. Seeing depression as “not the enemy” is going to be a bit of a challenge, but then again, I have gotten through almost 12 months facing depression. That’s got to count for something, doesn’t it?

    I have depression, depression does not have me!

    My concealed depression is written under the alias “Depression is not my boss.” I have certifications in SMART Recovery and am a Global Career Development Facilitator.

    Last year, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.

    The post I’m early for my therapy appointment appeared first on My Concealed Depression.


    With depression in full bloom, I was a mess last year.

    I guess in many ways I still am. I am learning how to live with depression after avoiding facing it for over 43+ years. I had a whole system in place to protect myself from the truth. I lived through at least four major episodes before winding up in the hospital a year ago. That... The post With depression in full bloom, I was a mess last year. appeared first on My Concealed...

    I guess in many ways I still am.

    I am learning how to live with depression after avoiding facing it for over 43+ years.

    I had a whole system in place to protect myself from the truth. I lived through at least four major episodes before winding up in the hospital a year ago.

    That marked the turning point in my relationship with depression.

    Now I am on a first-name basis with depression. I know where it works, where it lives and who it hangs out with. I understand how it always wants to keep secrets and how it tosses land mines all over the place and gleefully watches as I step on them.

    Depression loves it when it gets me to think its ideas are mine. Then it shuts me down, so I become secretive and everyone else is the enemy. Funny thing, though, once the stuff hits the fan and the plan unfurls into a real mess, depression heads out on holiday and doesn’t answer the phone.

    Now it’s just me paying the bill, both financially (usually) and emotionally (always).

    Lately, I have been reading over some of my first blog posts. What I was writing then was raw and unchecked. One day, I felt like a whirling dervish and I think I just made a list of everything I was thinking. No rhyme or reason, just what was popping into my head. It was my first attempt at living a more balanced life with depression.

    Road rage, on the other hand, I cannot really blame on depression.

    READ MORE: It’s not quite road rage, but it is a trigger

    It does help to think of it as a choice and that is how I have overcome it. Or at least kept it mostly under control, most of the time. I can see when it has acted up that the true source of my “road rage” had nothing to do with the driver in front of me. I was displacing my anger at depression, my boss, a customer, or something else unrelated to the person driving.

    But I can sure make it feel like it is their fault.

    Now I think about unhelpful thinking styles and cannot entertain that anger. Instead, I might say something like, “boy that was a dangerous and silly thing to do” as I watch them make a right turn across three lanes of traffic, effectively cutting off several cars because they were in the wrong lane.

    Going forward, I am working very hard to lead a balanced life.

    Using all the tools I have learned is making the going easier. I am catching myself more quickly when I start down the “shoulda. woulda, coulda” trail. My ability to catch me time traveling has gotten better, too. I am spending more time in the present than I ever have. This is new, unexpected when it occurs and a little scary.

    I was into social distancing before that was even a thing.

    My motto was, “always be leaving.” An excuse to leave early, a reason not to stay, an out for not attending. I’ve got a million of them. And each one, over the years, distanced me just a little more from those I love. And those who could have been better, even closer friends.

    My knowledge of people is two miles wide and two inches deep.

    I know thousands of people and interact with thousands more every month. Yet, I only know the basics about almost everyone. I know you have a birthday coming up, someone else is buying their first home, another is having their second child.

    All of this is great, knowing what to ask about for each person.

    This forms a connection that I appreciate. But it can get uncomfortable for me if someone begins to volunteer too much information. I shut down or flee at a moment notice. “Oh, look at the time, got to run.” And I am off. No fanfare just exit stage left.

    Now that I am trying to be in the moment, I am having to fight this “flight” feeling.

    I would have made a pretty good caveman, I think. Well, I sure have the fight or flight part down. This has impacted decisions about my employment, where I live and who I stay in touch with. And I am sure it has impacted many other areas of my life; some I haven’t yet explored.

    Allowing myself to be a mess is part of my self-care.

    Understanding where I came from is helping me understand where I can go. Getting the basics of how depression operates, I am seeing how it has infected every pore in my body and still sneaks in and tries to disrupt my recovery. Finally, I am not as fearful about going back towards the abyss.

    Why? Because I have my own Wellness Recovery Action Plan, I wrote out especially for me.

    In it, I have written out what I look like when I am well. Then, what I am doing and feeling when I am starting to slip. And another set of conditions that mean I am closer to the abyss than to a balanced life.

    Knowing what each stage looks like, and what I can do in case I am feeling like that, is what’s keeping me positive.

    READ MORE: Are these really early warning signs?

    I know the course is not a straight line to eternal bliss. And any life, with or without depression, will never be 100% up. Everyone has days that are less than ideal. Days, where it seems staying in bed, might be the best thing to do. Dump depression on top of that and it gets messy quickly.

    So, as I work towards the end of my first year, acknowledging and facing depression, I remind myself that “I have depression, depression does not have me.”

    My concealed depression is written under the alias “Depression is not my boss.” I have certifications in SMART Recovery and am a Global Career Development Facilitator.

    Last year, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.

    The post With depression in full bloom, I was a mess last year. appeared first on My Concealed Depression.


    Self-isolation is so isolating

    I am forgetting how much I enjoy in-person interaction. This past weekend had been booked as a bridal shower in a northern state. We were to drive up Friday, attend the bridal shower on Saturday, visit Sunday and return home on Monday. This was planned months before Covid 19 made its entrance on the world... The post Self-isolation is so isolating appeared first on My Concealed...

    I am forgetting how much I enjoy in-person interaction.

    This past weekend had been booked as a bridal shower in a northern state.

    We were to drive up Friday, attend the bridal shower on Saturday, visit Sunday and return home on Monday. This was planned months before Covid 19 made its entrance on the world stage.

    Reality is a three-day weekend spilling into Monday, with NO travel, no bridal shower.

    Saturday morning, we did venture into town, but the bulk of the three days has been in self-isolation. Now don’t get me wrong, we have a list of projects waiting to be completed. And many of those are now done. And the odds are good we will continue to knock things off the list before today is over.

    Tomorrow, for me the self-isolation ends, and I go back to social distancing.

    READ MORE: Can I tell you the truth?

    Having some me-time, some self-care time has been a wonderful thing. My attitude towards it is good because I can blame it on coronavirus keeping me home. My self-care time would look a lot different if we had driven north. It might have included a walk on the beach at the ocean or take out from the best seafood restaurant ever opened.

    And renewing bonds with family would have been a big part of my self-care.

    As it is, I am staying in contact via text, email, and good old-fashioned phone calls. This has reinforced my desire to see people in person once the all-clear sounds. Reading the latest updates this morning reminds me that this will not be a quick process.

    So, I am going to dig into day three of my list.

    This is self-care, for me, on steroids. I can finally picture what part of my retirement could look like when the right time comes. I see other portions of it devoted to giving back to others. And more time with family. The future looks brighter by far than it did a year ago.

    As April approached last year, I was very much circling the drain.

    My sense of the future was that there was no future. There was only a wall with nothing behind it. And the closer I got to the wall, the deeper I was descending into the abyss. A year ago, I was so far over the edge, I couldn’t even see where the edge was. And the closer I got to my hospital stay, the less I was in touch with the world.

    My reality consisted of a very limited circle of events; I was self-isolating.

    Learning tools and strategies to help combat my major depressive disorder, I am confident that I can stay out of the abyss. But my journey towards a balanced life will not be a straight line. I have had many ups and downs over the past 11 months. As I approach my one-year anniversary of acknowledging and facing my depression, I will be on guard.

    READ MORE: Where did the hummingbirds go?

    My plan is to enjoy day three of self-isolation, returning to reality tomorrow morning.

    My concealed depression is written under the alias “Depression is not my boss.” I have certifications in SMART Recovery and am a Global Career Development Facilitator.

    Last year, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.

    The post Self-isolation is so isolating appeared first on My Concealed Depression.


    A day working in the yard has helped me dust the cobwebs out of my mind.

    Today, it almost seems like everything is right with the world. I got to spend the morning with my wife. First hanging out in the living room, talking about what to do with the day. Then doing some grocery shopping, picking up a prescription all the while maintaining “social distancing.” Then I focused on mowing... The post A day working in the yard has helped me dust the cobwebs out of my mind. appeared first on My Concealed...

    Today, it almost seems like everything is right with the world.

    I got to spend the morning with my wife. First hanging out in the living room, talking about what to do with the day.

    Then doing some grocery shopping, picking up a prescription all the while maintaining “social distancing.” Then I focused on mowing the yard. I pumped up the right front tire on my riding mower, topped off the gas, and headed out to mow.

    On the riding mower, depression and Covid 19 do not exist.

    Using the weed eater to trim the grass at the edge of our front porch was fun. And the finished product looks fantastic. Inspired by how the front yard near the driveway looked after mowing, I did the area around the orchard and then took the tractor around back.

    READ MORE: Life is getting in the way of living

    From there, I mowed inside the fence.

    This fenced-in area is likely an acre in size. There is a wooden three slat fence put up by the previous owner. Attached to the inside is a steel wire fence, designed to keep dogs in. When we bought the house, the fence was unpainted. The wood was bleached and spotty.

    Seeing many farms in the area with black fences, I bought three 5-gallon buckets of black fence paint and went to work.

    I spent 14 ½ hours over three days to paint the entire fence. The outside was easy as there was no wire. But painting the inside, without painting the wire, took a paint roller, a 4” brush and a lot of patience. The finished product looks amazing if I do say so myself.

    Devoting the day to self-care activities has been a great idea.

    First thing in the morning, the sky was overcast, and it was a little cool. Not exactly an ideal “work on the yard day.” It seemed like it was going to rain any minute. But as the morning progressed, the clouds broke, and the sun began to peek through. For it was just little flashes, then the entire sky was lit up. The only remaining traces of the rain were little puffy clouds occasionally floating across the blue spring sky.

    And the temperature got up to the mid-seventies.

    This was warm enough that my shorts and tee-shirt no longer needed a sweatshirt over them. It was ideal lawn mowing weather. As the sun began to set, I noticed the heat from the engine on my leg as I would spin the tractor around. It’s funny what you can notice when you are “in the moment.”

    My rescue beagle is watching me from her large pillow in the living room.

    She agrees that this has been a “clear the cobwebs” day. She reminded me that my wife and I took her on a long walk around the property. If she is outside of our fenced-in backyard, she stays on a leash. Two years ago, she got loose, dragging her leash over the mountain into the next valley. We finally found her on a dirt road, over a mile from our home.

    It was several hours before we realized she had been shot.

    She spent the next five days in the emergency Vet hospital. She had surgery to repair 11 holes in her small intestine from the 22-caliber pellet. When we went to pick her up Friday to take her home, Sissy Spacek was in the waiting room. She engaged us by saying “we will do anything for our animals, won’t we?” My wife and I enjoyed a few minutes talking with Sissy, but our dog was saying “come on, I want to go home.”

    READ MORE: Am I asking the right questions?

    The weather tomorrow is expected to be cloudier and possibly wet.

    Having a second day off in a row, our plan is to work outside if possible, putting a solar-powered spotlight next to our parking area. With no streetlights, our property can be very dark between 4 AM and 6 AM. Having a motion sensor to turn on lighting near the cars will give my daughter (and me) a clearer path out to the cars.

    And we won’t worry so much about startling a bear as we go to our vehicles in the dark.

    Hitting my keys against my metal coffee mug when I walk out into the dark to go to my truck, I am not worried about bears that know I am there. They will skedaddle quickly if they know a human is coming. My concern is startling a bear, where it feels cornered. This often does not end well for the human involved (or the bear, once it is caught)

    So, despite major depressive disorder and Covid 19, I am going to focus on day two of “shaking out the cobwebs.”

    My concealed depression is written under the alias “Depression is not my boss.” I have certifications in SMART Recovery and am a Global Career Development Facilitator.

    Last year, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.

    The post A day working in the yard has helped me dust the cobwebs out of my mind. appeared first on My Concealed Depression.


    Which new normal? MDD or Covid19?

    I am still learning to live with major depressive disorder. Now I am also learning to live surrounded by the coronavirus. I am troubled more than a little by the double whammy. Yet, my plight, if it is a plight, seems increasingly minor, compared to others. Obviously, dying is not the desired outcome for anyone.... The post Which new normal? MDD or Covid19? appeared first on My Concealed...

    I am still learning to live with major depressive disorder.

    Now I am also learning to live surrounded by the coronavirus. I am troubled more than a little by the double whammy. Yet, my plight, if it is a plight, seems increasingly minor, compared to others.

    Obviously, dying is not the desired outcome for anyone. Short of that, being hooked to a ventilator is a close second for bad outcomes.

    This would require a major change in attitude.

    I have trouble sitting through a 30-minute TV show. How could I lay, motionless, in a hospital bed, attached to a breathing machine? And do that for days until the virus has run its course? The resolve and courage of those going through that should be applauded.

    Short of medical consequences of Covid19, millions of Americans applied for unemployment benefits last month.

    That is many times more than during the 2008 market crash. And once again, people who need to work the most, are the ones being hurt by this. Yes, Congress has passed a stimulus package and will be sending money to those in need. And people will receive $$ above their normal rate, to help offset the sudden loss of employment. But what of the long-term effects?

    When will we be back to normal?

    The Four Possible Timelines for Life Returning to Normal

    The coronavirus outbreak may last for a year or two, but some elements of pre-pandemic life will likely be won back in the meantime

    Read the entire article here

    I read this article in the Atlantic today.

    Each possible scenario has consequences and impacts on our daily lives. And the timeline is much different than saying we should get back to normal, for the sake of the economy, by Easter. Global, big picture ideas are felt very differently by the individuals who are forced to be the front lines of any policy implementation.

    Politics aside, I am seeing that many of the tools I have learned to use in dealing with my depression are the same tools I can use to deal with the coronavirus.

    Catching myself in unhelpful thinking styles is a big one.

    Knowing that I cannot control what happens, but I can control my attitude towards it has been remarkably effective. I confess the first few weeks of this were more than a little unsettling. And my attitude was challenged, and I found myself carrying around anger not attached to anything.

    Well, I discovered my anger was attached to the unfairness of how the virus is impacting my life and the lives of those I love.

    The loss of civil liberties for the common good was a struggle. Especially because in my day job, I am enforcing those “greater good” rules. And I do see how they will save lives. That doesn’t mean that I like it, only that I accept the need to protect ourselves and our fellow citizens from this pandemic. Other tools I am using are avoiding time travel, cost-benefit analysis worksheets and deciding what my daily self-care will look like.

    The article I read gave four lengths of time before we are “back to normal.”

    Somehow, just like my finally facing depression, I do not see us returning to pre-apocalypse normal  Our lives will be forever changed, just as my life was changed a year ago when I walked into the emergency room and said, “I need to see a professional about my mental health problem.”

    Much of what will come out of this event will make us stronger.

    READ MORE: Celebrating the little victories bring balance into my life

    I have seen so many of my employees are rising to the occasion and exhibiting great compassion and caring for those we serve. And as important, they understand what is going on in each of our personal lives as a result of the coronavirus. I am so proud of them and their actions.

    They inspire me to continue my quest to learn all I can about living with depression.

    And while I have no belief that this coronavirus pandemic will be over in a month or two, I am forever hopeful.

    My concealed depression is written under the alias “Depression is not my boss.” I have certifications in SMART Recovery and am a Global Career Development Facilitator.

    Last year, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.

    The post Which new normal? MDD or Covid19? appeared first on My Concealed Depression.


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