Monday, November 12, 2012

I Determine To Not Be Depressed and Therefore I Am Not

Update 2016: This article was featured in my book
"Saying NO to Suicide", with added commentary.

All set to fight off Depression

Sunday - Entry 14:

Today is the switch, and I am prepared to not sink into depression tomorrow when my girls are not with me—which is a depressing thought in itself. I love my girls dearly and even a year into Life2.0 I still struggle with the switch.

Before Life2.0 began I was a full time dad, so switching to single life two weeks out of every month has been a challenging task. The children define the rhythm of my life, and I find myself dancing haphazardly to an uncertain beat without them. The silence of my empty nest tends to trigger deep waves of Depression that, up until recently, took a few days to shake off. Fortunately, I have found that I can manage this gear shift if I mentally prepare myself. The secret is simple: I remind myself not to become depressed.

That is a lot easier to type than it is to accomplish.

Some weeks my brain feels determined to be sad. Throw in Winter Depression and unemployment, mix it up with loneliness, and swallow the heady brew down with the bile of rejection, and suddenly I'm not very productive anymore. The one blessing of Life2.0, Year Two is that the questions I ask myself no longer begin with "Why", but instead focus on "How". Whenever I feel that I have taken too long to overcome this gutting of Life1.0, I remind myself that it will take as long as it needs to take. The only thing I can do is push forward.

So, how is this secret accomplished?

First, I remind myself that Depression is often a trick of the mind. Chemicals, hormones, and triggering events are all outside my core identity. I see the depression as an alien invader that I must repel. I am not a sad person; I am a happy one. I determine to not be depressed, and therefore I am not. After years of practice sometimes will is all I need to set myself on a happier path. Other times, I need more. Whether it succeeds or not, I always start with the determination to overcome. Without the will to succeed, there is no success.

Second, to give my willpower a boost, I must have plans for the day after. Monday will quickly degenerate into Moonday if I do not have something to look forward to. This time I have blog editing to do, NaNoWriMo, and my eBook project. I also want to list some items on eBay, to clean my home (which always lifts my mood), and exercise. Lastly, I need to look for new freelance leads. This seemingly mundane activites will define how I spend my time. It will be my job not to slump on the couch and watch Netflix, or clickety click my day away reading news. I can make a task list as tall as a building and it will be meaningless unless I allow myself to work on it.

Third, I pray for help. If you are not the religious type, perhaps meditation and focusing on self-actualizing will serve the same purpose. For me, I find appealing to my Heavenly Father in prayer for help with specific requests (see point two), helps me solidify my goals in my mind. I also find journaling and ToDo lists very helpful.

Then, I get to work. I won't know until Monday night how well I succeeded, but lately I have been doing quite well. If I can maintain the optimism and industrialness until the middle of the week, then I usally consider my efforts a success. Barring any unforseen events, I will not see a flare up until the next time I don't have my kids.

Maybe next time I will write about the other subject that is gnawing at me: companionship. But for now I have a Life2.0, Year Two to conquer and I am more than busy enough with that task.

Update: Since this is a journal entry, it is lacking in some context. Please see "Wary of Psych Meds? Here Is My Personal Experience with Them". I cannot take psych meds. I have always written for people like myself who cannot use psychotropics and anti-depressants, but still need some solution to manage their mental health.