I thought maybe this was just a phase of the healing process, something I am processing or whatever, on my path to full health. I'd felt like this most of the summer, but it was getting better until this week, when the bottom seemed to drop out from under me again. So I hoped that the doctor would help me take the next step on that path to total health when I went in on Thursday to follow up on the light therapy.
I skulked in, mumbled my hellos to her, and stood up to have her check my body via the muscle testing on my arm. After a few minutes of her pushing on my arm, checking various things, she said, "You're done with the emotional side. The issue is gone. Now you should go see Dr. Owens (the chiropractor) again, to make sure your spine is adjusted and nutrition levels are right, to address the physical side. You can make an appointment for next week..."
I stared at her, glumly but angrily. Here I am, depressed as the Grand Canyon, and she's telling me I'm "done" with the emotional piece? She's saying my body is telling her it's OK, when I'm having thoughts of killing it? I couldn't word my outrage at the moment, so I just walked out of the office. And it hit me: She can't help me. Nobody has been able to, and she can't either.
Since then, I've had to face a sobering thought: I will never get better. There is no cure for what I have. I've been depressed since I was 12. There have been various stages of relative happiness or depression, but every time I think it's over for good, it comes back. Sometimes for a day or two, sometimes for weeks. Perhaps this bout with anemia this year has just been a particularly long and particularly deep episode of depression. (I've had more than one friend suggest that to me, actually.) I am realizing that MUCH of the energy I've exerted the past 19 years has been efforts to cure my depression for good, stave off misery forever. I've tried:
- Positive thinking
- Nutrition: Vitamins B and D, Omega 3s, Enough high quality proteins, Spicy foods, Magnesium, Chromium, avoiding endocrine disruptors such as processed foods and antibacterial soaps, a gluten- and dairy-free diet
- Herbs: St. John's Wort, Maca root
- Exercise (has NEVER worked! I ALWAYS feel more depressed after exercising than before! I know, it's weird.)
- Medication (SSRI)
- Dream work
- Talk therapy (with certified counselors and psychologists)
- EFT/Faster EFT
- Emotional Connection (by Cushnir)
Each of these experiences brought me some very positive results. I'm not saying that they are ineffective. In fact, who knows? Maybe I'd be hundreds of times worse off if I hadn't worked on myself with all of these things. But I had higher hopes, I guess. I wanted to get rid of this problem forever. Figure out what's causing it, heal it, and move on with a "normal" life. Each of these things have offered their highs, and given me the hope that FINALLY, I am done with depression. And last Thursday I began to realize--there is no cure. I will be like this the rest of my life. I will have good days and bad days, good years and bad years. But I can never expect that that dark cloud won't ever come back. It must be part of who I am, for reasons beyond anyone's knowledge.
So in coping with this, I imagine that how I feel right now, might be similar to how Beethoven felt when he finally realized his deafness was permanent and incurable. (We still don't have a cure for deafness, by the way.) He locked himself in the summer home of one of his friends for months, and emerged with the sonata we now call "The Moonlight Sonata." It took him a long time, but he eventually made a decision. He decided to keep composing anyway, even though the heartbreaking truth was that he'd never hear his compositions.
I also think of John Nash, the hero on whom the movie A Beautiful Mind is based. He dealt with paranoid schizophrenia, and went through multiple therapies trying to control it. (We still don't have a cure for schizophrenia, by the way, either.) According to the movie, Dr. Nash hallucinated people who weren't there, but the real John Nash didn't have hallucinations--he heard voices and had fearful imaginations and conspiracy theories. According to the movie, he stopped taking his medications because they interfered with his genius; he just decided to live with it and refuse to recognize his hallucinations as real. He would verify everything he saw via the input of someone else that he DID know actually existed. In real life, he was never on medications voluntarily in the first place. He did eventually reach a similar point, though, where he realized that he just had to deal with his disease by accepting only what he knew to be real. Here's a quote from Dr. Nash: "Then gradually I began to intellectually reject some of the delusionally influenced lines of thinking which had been characteristic of my orientation." (emphasis mine)
I am realizing I shall have to do something similar. We still don't know what causes depression, and we don't have a cure. (And it is NOT a chemical imbalance in the brain! Science has soundly refuted that hypothesis, despite what the drug pushers say.) We only have coping strategies. (And drugs may be a temporary part of the coping strategy. But not an option I'm willing to consider yet, for various reasons.) So that's really all I have available to me--coping strategies. I'm going to have to accept this, and learn to cope.
- I can tell myself when it happens: This is not the real me. This is a disease that flares up from time to time.
- I can make myself do what I'm supposed to do, even though everything in my body fights me. Even if I can't do it as well as I could when I'm not under a depression episode, I can at least do it. Go on picnics with my kids, finish my homework, go grocery shopping, take walks in the evenings, talk to friends, wash the dishes, record my songs. And so on.
- I can make sure I never, ever buy a gun.
- I can be kind to myself when I'm having an attack, instead of hating myself for being so weak.
- I can stay in school and keep working towards my dreams of getting out of poverty.
- I can keep open to the hope that I'll eventually find a life partner willing to put up with me, my children, and my eccentricities.
- I can keep composing, journalling, blogging, and talking with friends, as ways of positive self-expression.