Throughout the course of a person’s life, one could experience the simple pleasures of each day; a casual walk in a nearby park, window shopping on a lazy Sunday afternoon, coffee and a paperback book in hand at a local café, live sporting events and outdoor concerts with friends or a long distance phone call from a loving family member. However, one could remove themselves from these enjoyable everyday gifts in a heartbeat. It can creep up like a ferocious predator in the night without any warning. For most people, this debilitating condition can easily cover anyone like a dark blanket and suffocate them in a sea of never-ending despair. Unfortunately, I was a victim of depression and this is a true story of my personal battle and my ultimate recovery.
We all know the feeling…that feeling when you just can’t muster up the strength to get out of bed. Maybe it’s the work-week and your alarm just won’t shut up. Maybe it’s the weekend and you can’t find a good reason to plant your feet on the floor and make something out of the day. Whatever the situation, we can all relate. And for someone with depression, this can be especially difficult.
Why does it seem like just when I have my life figured out, it changes?
One of my first part-time jobs, after my children were all in school, was as a Library Aide at the public library working in the Children’s Division. As an avid reader, I hoped that bringing books home for the kids would propel them into reading even more. During my four-plus years there, many books were read, however not everything in my work was that easy. In my second year, our library went digital and started using PC’s. For those of you like me that grew up without computers, this was scary. My own children were right on the cusp of the internet. One of my responsibilities was a daily shift on the circulation desk. When I first started, we were still using “dumb terminals.” The transition to an Internet-based program and using new tools to do all of the work of the library was met with mixed responses. Boy, did some people resist. To some degree, the age of the employee was directly correlated to the response, as the older workers showed much more resistance. Several of the women I worked with in my department were basically computer illiterate and were okay with that. One of the techniques used by the administration was to hold several seminars and workshops on change. The one that stuck with me was the “Who Moved My Cheese” mindset, based on the book of the same name. There are six steps to move through on your way to acceptance of the changes you are facing.
We all live a life uncharted. Whether you go through life with a mental illness or not, our lives are always changing and we are always adapting to those changes. We have no way of knowing what tomorrow holds in store, and maybe it’s better that way. The uncertainty brings a certain zest to life that would otherwise be lost.
The journey uncharted
A long road has led me to where I am today: a road full of ups and downs, twists and turns. And to be honest, I never knew where I was going. Sure, I blindly pointed in a direction and walked down a path, but I never knew what was in store for me. I never knew whether the path led to danger or fortune. And the truth is that none of us know. We all walk down different paths in life, not knowing where they are taking us. But because we don’t know what is down the path doesn’t mean we need to be afraid. Life is lived one foot in front of the other.
We always prepare a first aid kit for our physical injuries when we go on a camping trip. What if those of us who have experienced symptoms of mental illness had a way to prepare a first aid kit or safety plan to meet those needs?
There are many different types of safety plans but one for my depression and anxiety was the one I never imagined I would need and I wish was explained to me. The plan I probably put the most thought into was the birth plan for my first child. Specifics such as what music to have on, what to have as a focus object, not to have drugs if possible were thought about and discussed with both my husband and my doctor. I will say, the plan was mostly followed although, I did take a little something for the pain.
The other type of plan that comes to mind is a fire safety plan for your house and family members. What do you do if the fire comes near you? What are the alternate ways out of the house: windows, doors? And where to meet up once you are out?