February 23, 2013

My Illness

Today, I'm going to be completely honest.

For years, I resented people asking for prayers and support for cancer patients or other serious illness. It wasn't that I didn't feel for them or believe they needed prayers. I would not wish the illnesses on anyone. The problem was, I, too, was suffering from an illness. This illness is common. This illness destroys not only the life of the one who has it but also greatly affects the lives of those who love and care about them. This illness is depression.

It's everywhere and yet it's not one that we ask others to pray for. We don't say, "My mom needs prayers, she's suffering from depression." We don't say, "My neighbor was just diagnosed with depression, will you send her energy?" In fact more often then not we hide the illness. Those who have it will do their best to pretend everything is okay, we're often ashamed to admit that we have it. Our loved ones will apologize for us, maybe saying, "She isn't feeling well today," and in their head they add, "or any day."

Some suffering seek relief in drugs. I've never done so myself. I've had people tell me I should be on drugs. This just added to my feelings of worthless and broken. I see so many people on drugs that never find relief. It's never a cure, although some hormone therapy can be. Who wants to be on a drug for the rest of your life?

Often, we're told "Choose to be happy." In fact the whole reason I'm writing this is because I was just in a meeting that told us we can choose joy. How would a cancer patient feel if we said "choose to be healthy"  or "choose to not have cancer." When a person has chronic depression there is more involved then a choice to be joyful or happy.

Now don't go getting me wrong. I know we create our realities, subconsciously. I know we really do choose the things we are going through, subconsciously. The problem with chronic depression like any illness is there are a lot more choices and things to address then a simple choice to be happy. For a person in this state, just choosing to believe there might just possibly be a way out takes all the energy they have.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are standing at the bottom of the tallest building you can think of. This place. at the bottom, is despair. Really that is often what those in depression feel. Despair is without hope. At the top of the building is where your loved ones are. They are in joy. You might see people who are a floor or two from the top, these are the people that can just "choose" joy and be there. The people at the top are just yelling down to you, "Just choose to be happy and you'll be up here with me." You can barely hear them the climb is so high!

If you are lucky, someone might throw down some tools. Maybe a key to the stairwell or elevator. They might have a ladder. They are telling you, "Don't beat yourself up. You're doing the best you can." They'll tell you, "Choose to get out of bed today and celebrate that awesome achievement." They know that before you can ever choose joy you have to make some other choices first.

When you're really lucky, you'll find some kind of healing method that works. Some work better then others. One worked amazing miracles for so-and-so, who was halfway up the building and now is at the top, so we think they should work just as well for us. We forget that he was already half way up the building. Then we get discouraged when we don't get the same results, or as fast as we think we should get. Finally, you use the method long enough or find a better for you method and start seeing results, although at first they can be quite small.

I, personally, have tried a lot of methods. I've given up, started again, changed courses, etc. The year that my depression went from being all the time to being Seasonal Affective Disorder I was ecstatic. This was progress. I kept going. Now I get a rare day with the depression feelings. I can pinpoint the trigger, whereas before just being alive was possibly the trigger. I can ask myself, "What is happening that caused these feelings?" I get a specific answer and then can proceed to heal it. I love where I am now and I am seeing things get better every day.

After pulling off layers upon layers of hurt, pain, grief, anger, rage, etc. I finally can choose to be happy. Just like any disease it takes finding the right tools for you. Depression can be cured. The best thing to hear is your 20 year old son saying, "You're so chipper lately." (He doesn't even normally use the word chipper!)

In that meeting today, I didn't resent being told to choose joy. I knew that I was now in a place where that choice is possible. I am either at the top of the building or just down a floor now. I did ache for the many who are still finding themselves somewhere on the bottom levels of the building. These are the people I most want to help with my healing tools. I want to share the sunshine, that I have found with them, with them and you.

From my heart to yours,

Michele Lewis
Healer of the Heart

16 comments:

  1. Great post, Michele! I appreciate your insights into a such a devastating condition as depression. Depression is far more than just having a bad day, or bad week. It is very much like a dark cloud that invades your whole being, one that is difficult to shake, or even fully describe. Your analogy of the building was great, very insightful. Personally, for me, depression has come about because of overwhelming health conditions that no matter what I do, I cannot seem to shake. I'm so glad that we are now friends and I'm very much looking forward to creating a beneficial relationship for the both of us. Thanks again for posting this great discussion on depression. I'm looking forward to reading more of your thoughts.

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    1. Thank you. I hope my future thoughts are as insightful. :)

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  2. Michelle
    that was courageous sharing your story I know that takes guts. I have experienced depression and understand what you are saying. I also know for me when i had my kidney failure i did have a choice and i chose to be positive and see myself as healed. I saw how my state lifted peoples spirits- I was also conscious that if i had done poor me how my story would be very different- that is not a happy picture
    thanks for your courage

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    1. Thank you. I too made choices. Not "to be happy" but to keep searching for a way out so I could choose to be happy.

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  3. Thank you so so very much Michele for this wonderful incredible post. I've been on the ground floor looking up. You are an wonderful writer, share from the heart and should be very proud of yourself. Andrea Hameed

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    1. Thank you. One floor at a time and you can be up here too!

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  4. Great post Michele!
    Very brave and a wonderful analogy. On the ground looking up toward a skyscraper is something that everyone can understand. I hope you'll share more of your posts with all of us on Facebook!

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    1. Thank you. I hope to share more as well! Loving the group!!!

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  5. Means a lot to share so much of your personal journey. People related when you speak from the heart.

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  6. You writing this post is going to help more people than you even know. Thank you for shedding some light on this silent disease. You are a brave soul and I stand up in honor for your courage to tell it like it is. Thank you!

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  7. Michele, that was really enlightening and really descriptive - I feel like I now have an insight into the complicated emotions. That was such a brave post and I applaud your desire to help others with your healing and sunshine - it's a pleasure to now think you can choose Joy - you've certainly started to spread it yourself :)
    Jacs

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