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I know that I suffer from depression, to the point that I consider it… - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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[May. 26th, 2007|02:01 pm]
I know that I suffer from depression, to the point that I consider it a chronic disability. It's something I have to take into account every day of my life. I keep hoping that there will be a time when I realize that, no, I shouldn't do that any more, but the fact of the matter is, I've done more harm to myself by denying this than I can do by accepting it.

Well, recently, I've had cause to question that as the basis of my problem.

When I'm having a bad day, I don't really feel any pleasure. I've learned over many years that an orgasm can be more a matter of intense sensation than real pleasure. I have a hard time anticipating pleasure, but that's one of those "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" I have feelings of hopelessness and despair, but, if I'm too tired or too unfocused to accomplish something, aren't hopelessness and despair kind-of normal?

I want to sleep a lot, and when I'm awake, I just want to pass the time. I want to fend off the horrible boredom that seems just on the fringes, if I can keep moving. But I don't quite ever find enjoyment with what I'm doing, unless I happen to get surprised by it.

I tend to be very, very reactive.

I know a few depressed people have this dream of dying heroically, and I think it kind-of ties into this. Often times, I can react quickly and appropriately to a surprise situation, and an adrenaline rush can be centering.

What I suffer from is often called "atypical depression" but I wonder if a better description of it might be (for me, and some other folks) dissociation.

You see, the biggest symptom that ties all these things together is that I'm not really there; I'm not fully present in my body, or my brain. Pleasure is muted, and so is pain. I've often described depression as "maybe a kind of protection mechanism gone wrong", where your brain mutes all emotions, so you don't collapse under pain, but you also lose your ability to feel pleasure. But, hey, it ges you through the crisis. The trouble is, it doesn't end when it should, and that's what makes it a disease.

But I think it better describes a pulling back, to the point that you're not able to push forward again, at least, not by simply willing it so.

Today, although I'm a bit tired, I think I'm in my body. I can anticipate doing happy things, and imagine them being happy; I can imagine accomplishing something, without thinking "no, it's too big, there's not enough time". I can imagine doing a little work studying PHP and, although it will be boring (A for-next loop! What amazing and exciting tools PHP provides!), I can imagine being satisfied at having worked a little coding skill into my brain and my fingers.

I think meditation helps pull me back to my body, but when I'm dissociated (or, "when I am what I'm assuming, for the moment, is 'dissociated'") I tend to drop into napping mode very easily... my mind just goes blank, and I come out of it after a while, but there's no continuity, no sense that I went from second to second, minute to minute, until it was done. If I focus hard enough to meditate again after that happens, I think it helps pull me back further, and closer, but it's also hard, because I tend to feel pleasantly tired and ready to rest.

I'm trying to figure out where to go with this. I think it's possible to notice when I'm disconnecting... maybe I can stop it from happening. And, if I do disconnect, I have to figure out how to reconnect if I can.

I think/hope that maybe looking at this as the problem might help. Trying to pull out of depression is like trying not to feel tired and icky. Trying to pull back to my body, well, that's got nothing to do with feelings. If I feel tired and icky, but I'm *really* feeling tired and icky (and not just vaguely aware of it), well, I'm not dissociated any more.

[User Picture]From: desiree_2877
2007-05-27 02:03 am (UTC)
hi there..I don't often post to your LJ, but felt compelled to after readin your words. I feel alot like u do....

You describe how I am more often than not.

sucks doesn't it?

at any rate..I feel a tad better knowing I am not totally the lone ranger.
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[User Picture]From: essaying
2007-05-27 02:40 am (UTC)
I strongly suspect that future generations will look at the word "depression" with the patronizing chuckle that we would use today for the old word "hysteria." It's clear to me that what we call "depression" is not monolithic -- it manifests in a zillion different ways, which seem to have little in common but feeling shitty for longer than other people feel shitty.

My depressive episodes, which have been situational and relatively mild, aren't like what you're describing; I'm as present as ever, but the prevailing emotion is overwhelm. Everything is too much, too demanding, too nervewracking, and I just want it to go away and I can't figure out how to make it do that.

But I think anything we can do to get a handle on *our* problem is all to the good. It seems significant to me that you're being so strongly drawn to meditation, which is after all a way of staying present and aware; your instincts are good.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2007-05-28 08:45 pm (UTC)

My depressive episodes, which have been situational and relatively mild, aren't like what you're describing; I'm as present as ever, but the prevailing emotion is overwhelm. Everything is too much, too demanding, too nervewracking, and I just want it to go away and I can't figure out how to make it do that.

Nod. I think that's the same kind of thing that happens to me, but I pull away from it, which leads to the dissociation. The emotional stuff seemed too much to handle, so I kept pulling back until I wasn't noticing it any more.

It's gotten a lot better now that I'm a bit better at handling floods of emotional energy, but I'm still stuck in the habit of pulling away in general.

If you have similar stuff going on, where you get really intense emotional reactions sometimes (even sometimes to crazy stuff), you might want to see if you can check out shamanic journeying sometime. (You also may not; I'm not making any guarantees! :-) ) It seems to work similarly. But it also sounds close to some of the stuff you've already described, like the dancing you've been doing (I want to say "that dance class", but I'm not sure if it's a class, per se.).

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[User Picture]From: kightp
2007-05-27 06:29 pm (UTC)
*nod* Knowing other things I know about you, this makes perfect sense.
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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2007-05-28 05:13 pm (UTC)
I've been mulling this over since you wrote this, so please forgive such a late response.

As Janet said, there are a lot of different ways to be depressed. However, I think that most forms of depression are amenable to meditation, because wherever you start from, meditation brings you back to where you want to be.

The woman I describe as my lifecoach started out as my therapist when I was very, very depressed, and when I was suicidally depressed, she gave me two choices: drugs or meditation. I chose the latter, which is how I started going to Quaker meeting. Meditation in community is a lot easier for me. (I hope this doesn't make me sound too wacko, but this is part of what I depend on Nanook for. This wouldn't have occurred to me, but when I was depressed, I had another cat, Burl, that used to do this with me. Not every cat works, because not every cat is willing to be there with you in such an open way.)
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2007-05-28 08:47 pm (UTC)
I don't think it sounds wacko... when I'm doing magic/energy/shamanic work, my cats seem to want to be close to me. It might just be that I'm more cuddle-available, but it could also be that they sense something going on and they want to share it.

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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2007-05-28 08:55 pm (UTC)
I don't think Nanook really know what's going on--I think he interprets it in cat-terms. (I realized this morning that one of the reasons he likes lying along my forearm is because it's the right size for another. slightly smaller cat.) But I also think he appreciates the community. He's very open in that way.
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