Unbreakable's Pearls of Wisdom...

...and Foolish Mutterings

Unbreakable

Unbreakable
Location
Down the rabbit hole, Texas,
Birthday
December 06

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FEBRUARY 12, 2011 12:29AM

Into the Light

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Well, whadya know? I find myself in a most curious state. As I left my office today and stepped out into the crisp air, a thought ambushed me. I am content, I thought. Then, immediately on the heels of that thought,  Huh. I really am content. 

After the longest happiness drought in the history of me, not only is my head above water, I have actually climbed onto the shore and am standing upright looking into the sun. Looking into the sun! For the last few weeks, I've been asking myself two questions: 

Number 1: How in the world did I get to the place where I went to bed every night thinking, Is it over yet?

And, Number 2:  How was I able to find my way out of that wretched place?

If you're expecting profound answers to either of those questions, I don't have that to offer. I can only tell my story in the simplest of terms and hope that, in doing so, I can offer even the slightest hope to anyone reading this who may be going through the same type of darkest hell.

Melancholy has been a familiar companion to me for the better part of my life. Depression is a condition I have wrestled with on more occasions than I care to count. My dark companion had dogged my steps so closely and so often that I began to understimate the power of the disease.  I grew weary of the label and the stigma of depression and, maybe, somewhere in the back of my mind, I began to believe the lie that I could wish it away or power my way through it. 

I never stopped taking the medications which had been prescribed to me, and when the clouds rolled too close, I would return to my doctor seeking a change of medication. This approach worked well enough, if not ideally, until February of 2005, when life began delivering a series of knock-out punches that just kept coming.

I won't go into detail about all the life-shattering events that took place over the last six years because my experiences are not unique or even all that unusual. Perhaps, had it not been for the convergence of so many traumas in a relatively short time period, I might have come through it, if not unscathed, at least on the friendly side of sanity. Possibly, there could have been a different outcome if I had more fully appreciated the insidiousness of a disease of which I had become too accepting. Finally, maybe it was a combination of all those things - a 'perfect storm,' if you will. I don't know.

What I do know is that I began to feel ever more powerless to fight the clouds of depression that surrounded me more often than not. As I sunk deeper and deeper into that dark pit, I did exactly what I knew I shouldn't do - I began to withdraw, incrementally, from my life until I eventually found myself on the outside looking in. Oh, I would rally somewhat on the odd occasion, but it never lasted long. And it never made much of a difference.

There came a point when I stopped being the "glass half-full" person I had always been. I made that choice. I remember making the decision that I had been wrong all my life; that I had been fooling myself all along with childish optimism. That was the turning point. From that moment forward, I no longer looked at life and saw possibilities or opportunities. I sat down and wallowed in my depression.

Make no mistake, I am not taking the simplistic approach that the control or lack of control of depression is a mind-over-matter situation. On the contrary, I know that the treatment of this disease is multi-faceted and a truly monumental task. But, I also believe that one's mindset is a powerful tool and can either help or hinder the process. I could no more will myself out of depression than I could wish it away; but, my willingness to be overtaken by it or to fight against it was, and still is, a major component in the degree to which it affects me. 

For whatever reason, after nearly six years of spiraling downward, something snapped in me and made me reach for a lifeline. That lifeline came in the form of a wonderful therapist and a decision on my part to participate in my own life once again. I don't claim to understand the forces that were at work to push me out of the deepest, darkest pit I've ever experienced, nor can I even begin to identify the impetus for it. But I am grateful for it. Whatever it was.

The path from is it over yet? to I am content was a journey of both agony and joy  - a mystery that I may never fully comprehend. One thing I do know, however, is that familiarity does lead to contempt. My familiar and cavalier acceptance of my disease was almost my undoing. I won't make that mistake again. Depression is a formidable foe. Understanding that is key to surviving it. 

Someday I may write of the depths to which the darkness took me, but I think not. I choose to remain standing in the sunlight. I like it here.

I am content.  

 

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so glad to know you've come out of that place. and i do so understand it. the whole "when it rains, it pours" aspect of events in our lives doesn't make things easier when we're struggling to begin with. keep on feeling that sun on you.
Thats what I keep telling people.. it just happens just like that. POOF!
Glad to hear you are content and rated with hugs
lemonpulp - yep, and the sun sure feels good on the heels of all that "when it rains, it pours" stuff. xoxo

Linda - POOF is right - and isn't it amazing? hugs back atcha!
Flower Child - Oh, Girl, you are singing my song. I know EXACTLY where you are coming from and you're right - it completely knocks the wind out of your sails and makes you question everything you ever believed. And that's shaky ground to try and stand on. I'm so glad the sun is peeking through for you. OS has been a life-saver for me for the past year and a-half. So glad you're here now, too. xoxo
Wow- we are on the same page tonight! I'm glad you are back in the light, too. We belong there.
content. it's a good word. and a good place to be. glad you are there.
lschmoopie - I know - kinda freaky, huh? And you're right - we do belong in the light. :)

Mimetalker - it's been a long time coming. Feels right. **sigh**
I'm so happy to read this Kim. Sunlight is wonderful, isn't it?
Great news. As a Bipolar in recovery (another mood disorder), I commend you.
You deserve to be content. Happy also, but as you'll see contentment will stay with you where happiness is like a ghost. Beautiful yet you can't touch it or keep it. Contentment will walk with you!
Frankly, if I became content I be worried. Dodging the excrement that flies at me from all angles keeps me agile. I know the big one will finally hit but I hope it hits hard enough to stop any worry totally.
This is wise and wonderful. You have described the storm and the parting of the clouds of darkness so beautifully.
I am so happy for you, for this place you are in. And I am bowled over by the gorgeous writing. ~r
I'm so pleased for you - contentment is the most elusive state to achieve for a lot of us.

I relate to every word here as I'm sure you'll know, but have yet to find a way to lose my dark moods or my attitude towards life's knocks.

I'll keep looking for that sunshine and thank you for sharing yours.
Contentment is wonderful. Joy and sorrow come and go, but contentment is a platform and I am glad you're sitting on it.
". . .somewhere in the back of my mind, I began to believe the lie that I could wish it away or power my way through it[depression]. "

And that is right on! Depression is an insidious, unwelcome visitor who doesn't want to leave, and makes its host believe lies until it spirals her life either into succumbing or outright rebellion. It will play tricks with your mind, coming and going - making you believe that you are alright and rid of it for a while, yet all the while in the background, ready to attack at a most vulnerable moment in your life.

Kim, I know what you're talking about- so well. After the initial shock, the taboo, denial and hopelessness, I ackowledged depression myself and decided to work with it rather than fighting it head on. That was a more proactive way, and once you accept something, you regain power. It doesn't mean you've given into it, but rather you know how to cope or deal with it. Knowing, that there will be that *snap* moment when you acknowledge that you've overcome, is what keeps you going.

I am so, so happy to read this post - to start my day - and cannot tell you how happy I am for you that you are here, at this point in your life, out into the light, out of the abyss and sharing your experience so sincerely with us. You have no idea how many people you will be helping with this post. I don't mean any of what I said as platitudes -the verbosity of my response is due to the overflow of joy I share with you, my unbreakable friend. May you remain in the light from now on, and have enough wind in your sails to turn away from dark clouds.
Ah, such profound wisdom here in these comments, my friends. Thank you - all of you - for your rallying words of support...

trilogy - you may not know it, but you've been a constant source of inspiration to me. You've been through the fire, many times, in fact, and you've somehow managed to keep your head and hold on to the peace and wisdom that you so freely share. Thank you for being that source of inspiration for me and for all the encouragement you've showered on me. Hugs and kisses, dear one.

Patrick - ah, Patrick, you know so well the path of which I write. I love the phrase, "bipolar in recovery." Good on you!

scanner - I love this comment - I read it, then read it again, and then once again. There is such profound truth in your words, Kenny. What you've said - this is something I used to know - in my bones. It was a part of me and somehow I lost sight of that. Thank you for reminding me. And for saying it so beautifully - "contentment will walk with you." I love that.

Jan - your feelings are familiar to me. I do understand where you're coming from.

Joan - thank you!! Another bonus to looking up to the sun - I've rediscovered my love affair with words! As I composed this last night, it was like reuniting with a treasured old friend. Thank you for "getting that." xoxo

Linda - you are one of the most resilient people I know - and you've had far too many opportunities to practice being resilient. More than your fair share. You're right - contentment is elusive. My wish for you is that contentment finds you as well. Lots of love to you, dear Linda.

greenheron - I swear, these are some of the best comments, bar none, I've ever read. "Contentment is a platform, and you're sitting on it." Wow! Powerful and profound words. I thank you, my friend.
Like many others, I relate to every word in your post. As far as the darkest of places, I had two periods in the last five years, that left me without words as to the ability of a human; being able to withstand the amount of pain and suffering that I had endured.

I have suffered from depression my entire adult life and eventually sought the refuge of alcohol, just like so many do that end up with substance abuse problems.

I have been sober for 4 years now, and I have been on an incredible journey of recovery and self-discovery. Like you, I have a womderful psychologist. Alice Miller, in her books, would call this person an "enlightened witness". If you haven't came upon Alice Miller before, check her out online. She passed last year, but her works survives her.

The best way that I could describe my last four year and what I have learned, are laid out in simple fashion, in Don Miguel Ruiz's book "The Four Agreements". It stunned me how well he described the lessons I have learned, albeit the hard, hard, hard way, over the last four years.

There is hope. CBT (like you), Alice Miller and Don Ruiz, have helped me armor up against this nasty condition. Best to you!
I understand this. From the bottom of my heart I am very glad you are feeling better. This is a world that can knock you for a loop and often we are really such fragile children in the face of it.

Welcome back to the sunny side of the egg. :)
Ain't it great? Feels like that moment when someone stops hitting you with a baseball bat. I love it when I can pause and take note of it too...
Welcome to the Light - follow where it leads - lots of love to you on your journey to truth, love and light.
I invite you to be my friend - I am all alone - will anyone else out there add me as their friend too.
Blessed Be.
I look forward to lots of conversations on how we cann all share this lovely planet without the elements of Fear, Anger, Hate and Guilt - let it be - let it be soon - let it be now.
Love to all of you xxxx
Thank the gods for that POOF!
So optimistic and yet so realistic. Beautiful. Glad you are content. Peace. RRR
i've struggled with lots of psych stuff but (lucky for me) depression isn't one of them, so i've got no real-world experience to spead from. but i know you and there's a center to you that *is* optimistic and happy and fun and forward-looking, so maybe it's when you got all the way down to there is when the real un/b kicked back in. plus, of course, the meds and the therapist and the hitting the bottom of the well and ... i don't know, truly, kim, except that i'm so glad you're back and looking at the sun. and it's looking back at you, wonderful woman. now let's go have some miegas (sp?) and a margarita.
"I could no more will myself out of depression than I could wish it away; but, my willingness to be overtaken by it or to fight against it was, and still is, a major component in the degree to which it affects me." This statement strikes me as especially insightful and important. Willing and willingness are different, but, as you perceptively point out, related. Perhaps its the inevitable result of a culture that values individualism that we're told or that we believe that thye force of our own minds can overcome anything. That's as untrue as saying the force of our minds cannot overcome anything. You've hit the right balance, I think. An instructive post, grim but, finally, rewarding to read.
At some point, and it sounds as though you’ve reached it, one puts away childish things, like dreams of persistent happiness – or the even more foolish dream of perpetual happiness. One settles for contentment instead. Settles may seem an ugly word, but it is infinitely preferable to unsettled.

The best thing I ever read on contentment is a short story by E B White called The Second Tree from the Corner. I HIGHLY recommend it. Synopsis won't nearly do it justice, but suffice it to say it draws the line clearly between happiness and contentment.

By the way, I hope it adds to your contentment to know your post has inspired one of my own. Coming soon to a blogspot near you!!
Oh, Kim, you've vastly improved my day! So happy that you have the solidness of contentment inside you now. I, too, LOVE what Scanner wrote--worth my writing down. Like Tom Cordle, you've inspired a post in me--a poem! I'll be thinking of you. xo
spead s/b speak. and the grammar is atrocious. mea culpa. bad fingers.
Kim, thank you so much. When you talk about depression every time, I feel like you are telling my story. I am not on the same page as you at this time but look forward to being content and know I have been there in the past a couple of times since my battle for my life began with this insidious illness began. Again thanks for putting into words what we wrestle with.
You write about "being content" as if it is unexplored terrority, and in some ways it is. I have always thought of it as a delicate balancing point between two extreme emotional diodes.
Glad you are writing here again, my friend.
Unbreakable, welcome ashore! Yay! I am so happy for you...depression is a thief and a scourge...good riddance to that! xox
Right now I am experiencing POOF too...but it is the sound of my contentment leaving!

Glad to hear things are good for you my dear friend. It's time. It's time is something I say to myself often, I should listen!
Why is it so much easier to give up than it is to fight. I am so glad you fought back and are free to see the light the surrounds you once again.
So nice to see this; I like the way you write about this journey you have taken, and the hope it brings.
This is wonderful to read, Kim. Embrace each and every moment!
thank you for sharing the experience, wisdom and hope. very inspiring!
I go away for the weekend and come back to all !these wonderful comments! Thank you all so much!

Now...

Fusun - your words hold such wisdom. It's obvious you know whereof you speak. This unwelcome dark visitor we've both wrangled with is indeed a sneaky liar, playing tricks with one's mind and turning reality on its head. When I read your posts, I always feel such a sense of peace and contentment - something I've been missing for a long time. I'm happy to join you on that road - finally. xoxo

rooster - another wonderfully insightful comment. So many of us have been through this fire, haven't we? I'm not familiar with Alice Miller or Don Ruiz... but I soon will be. Thanks for the suggestion. And thank you for reading and commenting. :)

Foolish Monkey - "such fragile children" - yes, indeed.

Linnnn - yes it does. It feels EXACTLY like that!

Bonnie - a party - now that sounds like a great idea! Let's party, Party Girl!

Spirit - thank you for reading and for your lovely comment. It's nice to see you here. Please come back anytime.

Matt - Amen!

Bea - thank you!

femme - I LOVE your comment! I don't know what miracle convergence of events, emotions, whatever occurred to get me to the sun once again - I'm just thankful it happened! And I'm basking in the sun. And yes! Let's go eat migas and drink margaritas! xoxo

Jerry - so nice to see you here and thank you for your inspiring words.

Tom - great point about putting away the childish expectation of perpetual happiness. I agree that settling for contentment is far preferable to being unsettled. Not to put to fine a point on it, but I think it requires a certain level of maturity to reach that conclusion.
I look forward to reading your post that was inspired by this one. And I'm going to look for that short story by EB White.

Good Daughter - I'm visiting my daughter and grandkids in San Antonio and have to drive home this afternoon, so I hope to find some time to catch up on my OS reading this evening. Looking forward to reading your poem!

femme - ah, grammar schmammer - who cares about grammar? It's the sentiment that I care about. Big love to you, dear friend!

char - you're in my heart - I think of you often. Keep fighting. You'll make it.

JD - while it may not be completely unexplored territory, contentment has been very elusive for a very long time. I'm glad to find this "old friend" once again and I'm going to fight like hell to hold on to it. :)

Robin - happy to join you on that shore! Good riddance is right!

Buffy - I'm sorry that your POOF moment is signaling something other than the *arrival* of contentment. :( But, I know you and your resilience won't allow that negative poof to stay around for too long. Sending big hugs to you, dear friend.

LL - I don't know why either, but it is wayyyyy easier to just give up. The path of least resistance and all that. One thing's for sure though - the path of least resistance is not nearly as rewarding! Of course, why I am telling you this? You're a champion when it comes to fighting back. :)

mLee - soooo happy to see you here! Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. You've always been so encouraging to me. And here you are, once again, doing just that. :)

sophie - thank you - I hope it brings that same hope to many who read it. Thank you, sophie, for being such a faithful reader. I appreciate you!

mypsyche - thank you, my dear friend. I'm lovin' the light!

charlie - thank you, dear. You are so kind. :)
sometime, when you get to the bottom, look me up.
I'm usually there.
sometime, when you get to the bottom, look me up.
I'm usually there.
The way you used the word "content" I like it and I am happy for you. I really am. But in all other uses of the word, I hate it.

I never want to be content.
wschanz - next time I'm there, I'll look you up and we'll commiserate - hope it's not for a while, though. In the meantime, I'll look for you here - on OS. :)

D - Well, I can see your point. There's a case to be made for both sides. Was I content to stay in the pit I was in? No. Absolutely not. Am I content to stay stagnant, never moving forward or advancing in life, writing, career? No, again. But, in a general sense, having always lived my life with engines revved and fight or flight mode readily engaged, I'm feeling quite comfortable settling down into contentment at long last. Ah, life. It's quite the journey, isn't it, D?
Neil - Let's hope not. Let me be clear in stating that the convergence of life circumstances that plunged me headlong into the darkness was of such magnitude and so unrelenting for such a long time, that a retreat into the recesses of my mind was inevitable. I had certainly weathered highs and lows before without experiencing crippling depression, but this was something else entirely.

I now have a much greater respect for the fragility of life and for the power of the human spirit. I also learned that I'm really not "ten feet tall and bullet-proof" as I had believed for most of my life. Maybe if I had been willing to cop to that earlier, I might not have had so far to fall when life knocked the props out from under me. I'll never know. I wouldn't say I'm cautious now, just much more aware. And that's not a bad thing.
Here's hoping you always remain in the sunlight.