Meeting my brain halfway…

I have been on a rollercoaster of a spiral for the last two weeks.  The two weeks prior I was in the throes of an event that I didn’t realize I was in until the thoughts became so dark, I could not longer ignore it.  What am I talking about? Well, let me explain.  I note my mental state in three levels (balance is not included as that is just smooth sailing, for the most part), episode, spiral and an event.  An episode is almost like common people blues on steroids, but manageable, because it happens, right? Right.  A Spiral is when the episode starts to get out of control, because I can’t always tell what my brain is going to do next. It’s like playing a game of strategy, but the strategy doesn’t always pan out and the opponent – my brain – sometimes gets the upper hand.  An Event is when the spiral gets out of control and I “lose” the game and keep wanting a rematch until I win.  Now, when we lose, sometimes we try too hard to win and we end up getting in our way, getting frustrated, and then too tired to fight,  but if we don’t try, it could end up really bad, so it’s a very careful game of strategy, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, think of Ron Weasley and the life size Wizard Chess…yikes.  It’s physically and mentally draining…exhausting.

When I was diagnosed with depression years ago, I was flat out told to “not talk about it in public and to be strong”, because “we don’t talk about that.”  So I did.  Years later I couldn’t ignore it anymore and my trauma was doing what it could to push it’s way out so I could heal it.  I had no choice but to embrace this diagnosis, get re-diagnosed to make sure it really was a thing and not some fluky moment in my life, but sure enough I came out again with the diagnosis of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) Mid-grade or whatever they call between mild and bad.  Diagnosis accepted, and so my work began to heal my pain from childhood, to heal my grief of losing so many people I loved dearly in such a short amount of time to cancer, and to heal the death of a friend, but something happened when I finally put those things into perspective…I still had depression, but how? I had begun the healing process, so why was it still pestering me?

My healing didn’t happen overnight, it started in early 2017 and it continued right into 2020, the end of 2019 upending me and sending me on a journey I was never going to be ready for unless I was thrust into it.  I didn’t like the way it happened, but it happened and it forced me to really take a step back and examine what I wanted it life, what I am deserving of and why I keep holding myself back from living the life I have imagined for myself.  This caused what I recently referred to as a year-plus long cycle of episode-spiral-event-repeat.  Finally I knocked my proverbial hamster off the wheel, because I couldn’t do it anymore, I was tired, I was exhausted, but there was something that still didn’t feel right, then like a light bulb going off in my head, I opened my mouth and spewed out to my best friend and sister, what it was, I have depression and nothing is fueling it, my brain is just truly a dinged up brain.

I have blogged and vlogged about how I do my best to maintain my depression by nurturing it and for awhile that worked.  As I was healing from my previous pains of grieving and trauma, I was laid off from my job. My identity was so tied into my work place I felt lost, but as the year mark came and went for that, I was holding onto it, because there was a realization sitting at the Bus Stop of my life tapping its foot on the ground waiting impatiently for me to notice, I wasn’t holding onto the loss of my work identity, I was holding onto something so I could be a person whose depression isn’t because there is something wrong with my brain, but because something bad happened in my life.

When I finally understood this, less than twenty-four hours ago, I cried.  I cried, because this is the realization that my brain is not “normal” by “regular” people’s standards.  Growing up I had to deal with not being “normal” because of my heart surgery when I was three.  I wasn’t always allowed to do things other kids could do until I was older, and although I didn’t understand it as a child, last evening I realized I really wanted to just feel “normal” for once, so subconsciously I ignored the faulty wiring in my brain and tried to be “normal”, but the more I tried, the more exhausted I became.  So tired.  So unwilling to do the most basic things like take out the trash.  Even taking a shower became an effort.  I had become the meme’s I post while advocating for mental health, but I was refusing to be that person and while I unwittingly tried to be “normal” I was ignoring every basic rule of taking care of myself when in the midst of the darkness.

My depression was supposed to be fueled by the things that I have been through, not because my brain is just a little whackadoodle in the wiring department, but instead I realized my depression is just something I was born with and that the events in my life just exacerbated the mental aspect of my health.  Once I allowed myself to understand this, it’s like a light shone on me and everything became clear again.  Am I still fighting to gain my balance, heck yeah, but it’s become easier, because I have finally decided, despite years of advocating, to accept my diagnosis and to embrace my abnormality.

I walk around with a beautiful scar on my chest, and a brain that sometimes struggles, and while I hate having depression – honesty is key folks- I know I will be okay, because after peeling away a ton of layers (the whole onion metaphor) I have found that my brain/depression is this cold little beast that no one loves and just wants to be cared for and that is exactly what I need to do.  It’s not going to find a new home, it’s my little beastie to care for, but I have leveled the playing field.  There will be times the beast acts up and I will need to give it a time out, and there will be times when we just coexist in a beautiful way, and I say beautiful, because I can honestly advocate now. I can openly identify with people whose brains are like my own.

I never truly hid my depression, but I never truly exposed how I really felt about it, because I didn’t know how I felt about it until now.  I didn’t want to be different, yet my whole life I always embraced being different, on the outside, not the inside and now I can embrace both and hopefully find my way to a long lasting balance.  Now the only question is, what should I name that little beastie?  I’ll get back to you on that one.  Maybe if it has a name, I will relate to it better.  The key to my keeping my dinged up mental health in check is to find ways to handle it and if naming it will help with this task, then I am all in.