Friday, August 01, 2008

Taking off the Masks

I injured my right shoulder (doing lovely, domestic things) in such a way that it has been painful to extend my hands to a keyboard for typing. I didn't post because I reserved most of my energy for doing my paid jobs rather than blogging. It's just as well, I suppose. The things I'd have written about probably wouldn't have been worth reading.

For the past number of weeks I've been blown about by the wind, speaking in terms of my emotions. No, I'm not bipolar, so it wasn't like having to balance manic and depressive moods. What I am is someone who has to battle depression on a daily basis both with medication and with cognitive restructuring (in other words, changing the way I think about things). Things have been going reasonably well -- I'm still on my diet and doing the things I need to do in order to continue progress -- but there are still worrisome elements of life that have overwhelmed me, the big issues such as, "do we have enough money to get through this month?" and "what happens if the money runs out?" and "what if Ed can't get a job when he's done with school?" and "Oh, Lord, how will any of this ever work out?"

For the most part, I can stay positive and move forward. But I have days when I want to stay in bed and pray that I'll wake up to find it was all just a nightmare. It all came to a head last weekend when we went to see the film "Journey to the Center of the Earth." When the principle characters reached the point of no return (i.e., the moment when, like it or not, there was no going back so they were compelled to move forward into the unknown) -- which in this case was being trapped in a cave with 60 tons of rock covering the opening -- I felt the metaphor hit me like 60 tons of rock. Ed and I reached a point of no return once his job was eliminated and he was forced into retirement. We were unable to go back; there was only going forward into the unknown.

Yes, we did pretty well at first -- Ed was able to find part-time work and so was I -- but then Ed's part-time work went away (curses to CompUSA) and he was unable to find any other job. It seems that every other avenue of employment was closed to him, so he found a program of study that should take only 18 months, at the end of which he'll be a qualified surgical technician and able to get a decent job. I hope.

But we don't live in a movie script. There will be no finding of a wonderful new world and we won't find out way out in one heroic ride up a geyser that deposits us on a sunny vineyard in Italy with diamonds in our backpacks (you have to see the film to get it all), and it certainly won't be all tied up neatly and happily in a mere 92 minutes (or however long the film was).

So, I've worried. And worry made me feel depressed.

But today I learned that worry (as well as anxiety, anger, and even guilt) are just masks we wear to keep from seeing what we need to see. What is it we need to see? Well, for each of us it's different, so you have to figure it out for yourself.

For me, worry is sometimes a way I have of covering up that I'm really frustrated with not being able to control the outcome of things. Worry is a way of trying to control, because I often feel that if I give up control then everything goes wrong. (And that's a huge fallacy. Things were already crappy but I believed that if I could exert control over them they would then be good.)

Worry is also, for me, a learned behavior. Worry is a way to prove you care. Worry is a way to show concern.

Even if I've taken my medication it's possible for me to feel overwhelmed with worry. But the medication helps me to step away for a second and consider what positive steps I might take to deal with my situation. The medication helps me to remember that I can choose to not worry. The medication helps me to remember that worry is form of denial.

I am very thankful that medication has been developed to help me to overcome the effects of depression. I am very thankful that I've found a counselor who helps me to see the flaws in my thinking. And I am very thankful that my husband loves me in spite of my madness sometimes.

Life is pretty good, even with all of the crap floating around us.

1 comment:

Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

Hi Judith,

I would like to thank you for your observations. I wish someone had said those words to me when I was in my five year depression after my son died.

Try not to leave us hanging for so long next time. We may have some words of wisdom for you if you are having a bad time. And it helps to know others care.

I myself would never judge. I have too many things living in my over large closet.

I'm sorry you hurt yourself and hope it heals soon. I'm sending good wishes and happy vibes your way. I am also sending great job vibes to Ed. The universe is listening.

Glad to see you back, I've been checking daily.

Sincerely, Lady Euphoria