The weblog of Darren Friesen

Monday, May 01, 2006

Update

Thanks so much to all of you who have commented and written over the last couple of days. I am thankful for your prayers and thoughts. As many of you know, I have been battling this for about 5 years. One thing that I neglected to make clear in the last post is that I have been on medication for the last 5 years. I just switched from Effexor to Celexa, each of which have their own unique side-effects. They have helped me cope fairly well, but there are cycles to the whole thing. So I have taken that step, as well as seen two different counselors during that time.

There are times when I wonder about what has specifically brought me to this place in life. My past thoughts about myself havea lot to do with it. It is difficult to stop listening to the voices that have been condemning you for many years. I go through cycles of ability to believe what is true or the tapes that seem to have been playing in my head my whole life. The meds help with this, and for that I am thankful.

Aside from meds, what do you do personally to keep yourself balanced and well? Music? certain authors? Meditation? Just curious, that's all!

9 Comments:

Blogger Joyce said...

As I read this, and then take a minute to peruse your flicker photos, I wish I had something to contribute that would make all the pain and challenge of this to go away. Obviously, I don't.There don't seem to be any effective shortcuts or quick fixes. I do, however, have one phrase in my mind that always aids me when I'm completely befuddled and a little frightened. "The only way OUT is THROUGH". It just sucks to be going THROUGH when what you really want is to be OUT.

5:27 PM

 
Blogger Scott said...

i had to say goodbye to alot of stuff. then i had to get off the celexa so i could feel again.

5:26 PM

 
Blogger Sherri said...

The "walk of life" is not easy, yet it can be joyous...have you read Thomas Merton? He was one of the first modern-day Catholics to honor the value of silence in communion with others - i.e., meditation (http://www.centeringprayer.com/methodcp.htm) and practice yoga... he endured much criticism, yet kept his vows and grew ever closer to God, while remaining faithful and honest to his inner calling until his death in 1968. He must have felt the warmth of an "Invisible Sun"...

12:42 PM

 
Anonymous Donna said...

I find your question at the end of your blog interesting...."what does one do to keep themselves balanced and well?"
For me, without sounding to trite, life should be all about balance. We balance work with play, laughter with tears, joy with sorrow, trying to keep it all in balance so we don't find out that our "dark" days out number the others....but it's human to give "weight" to one side of the scale at different times in our lives. The balance is always delicate and difficult to maintain. I, personally, find help in keeping the scales fine tuned by good friends who listen without judgement, trying to be honest, stay in 'okay' but not topnotch physical condition, doing things that bring me joy and doing those things often--hearing my granddaughter's voice, playing music favorites, laughing at stupid jokes (cause I can and I DO find them funny), having some alone time,pursing spiritual knowledge...at this time, mostly the written word about the Holy Spirit. Does this keep me blanced and well? most days, but like the majority of the people out there I have some crappy, gray days, too. I am thankful that they are at a minimum. I pray that you find some "counsel" to assist YOU in helping remove the cloak that has been cast over you, whether it be from a Doctor, another professional or it comes from a dear friend ....my prayers and friendship are with you, Darren.

6:15 PM

 
Blogger Sherri said...

This quote by Thomas Merton is great:
"The things I thought were so important - because of the effort I put into them - have turned out to be of small value. And the things I never thought about, the things I was never able either to measure or to expect, were the things that mattered." (From Firewatch, July 4, 1952)
Herein lies the key to happiness...
Like, for example, enjoying a fresh -just picked, farmer's market if possible- meal, it will also have more folate (important to combat depression http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/apr04/folate0404.htm ).
Also, it is important to recognize "The Dark Night of the Soul" , much has been written http://mirabaistarr.com/darkintro.html , but I find Thomas Keating's books (like "Invitation to Love") very helpful. After passing through that very vivid "inferno", the world may begin to resemble "The Wizard of Oz" or "Alice in Wonderland", but it is the only way for us to get a clearer understanding of this world and what it's really all about...
During your journey, never forget the FACT that YOU are SO VERY LOVED and much, much more important than you can imagine (and probably for all the reasons you never thought were very important!)

11:47 AM

 
Blogger Mike O said...

http://sakamuyo.net/community/index.php?topic=517.0

10:42 AM

 
Blogger Patrick said...

It's a funny thing about depression. You're never sure that you've had it until you don't. And then you're certain you could never slip back again.

That is why so many people cycle through their depression. They take the meds, get the therapy, have the rest, until they find out they are again well. Woowoo! After a while, they think well, I'm so well, I won't get sick again. So they go off the meds, start keeping late nights, and in general they start doing the things they shouldn't be doing, all over again.

I've had depression since I was a teenager. I've never been suicidal. I've never had to spend weeks in bed. The reason I know I've had depression is that, for a time, I didn't. Many times. But each time the depression returned. It was intractable.

My depression defines me. But not in the way you might think. While others with depression might be morose about how worthy they are, I look at my life and say "I have a wife who loves me, a son who respects me, a job where my advice is sought, friends who maintain their connections even after we've been separated by decades and great distance."

Here's how I manage my depression. First of all, I recognize that my depression didn't prevent me from holding down a job, or being a good husband and father, or any of the other things that usually define us BEFORE I learned I had it, so there was no reason why it should after.

Second, I recognize that depression is an emotional illness that is caused by an imbalance of energy. I don't have enough of it. Yes, I use medication to help me with my depression, but I don't have the luxury of wasting my energy. Others can squander their energy on late nights and long grudges. They have energy to spare. I do not, so I cannot.

Third, I recognize that when I, despite my best efforts, don't have enough energy to do the things I think are important to do, I rest. I might take a sick day. My weekends are unscheduled. I will sometimes escape to my room and close the door. By whatever means, I rest.

Fourth, I stop resting after a while, and I start to dream. I think about what I can still accomplish. I think days down the road, then weeks, then months, then years. I know what I'm going to do the day I retire. When work gets tedious, I picture that thing, and I smile. (I'm not sure why I smile - the dream is to return to university to finish my Master's, and I don't recall university being a fun place, but I smile anyway.)

And then, after I dream, I again go forward, ready to do that which I have dreamed. And I begin anew the cycle of accomplishment / management / rest / dreaming.

Someday they may find a wonder drug that lifts my depression from me entirely. I'm not sure I want it. I would never have accomplished what I have accomplished had I not had the urgency of knowing that the times of accomplishment would always be followed by a time of conservation and revival. I would never have been so close to so many hurting people had I not been able to say "I've been there". I would never have read as much, thought as much, dreamed as much.

What would my life have been like without depression? I don't know. I've never known anything else.

11:45 PM

 
Blogger Patrick said...

It's a funny thing about depression. You're never sure that you've had it until you don't. And then you're certain you could never slip back again.

That is why so many people cycle through their depression. They take the meds, get the therapy, have the rest, until they find out they are again well. Woowoo! After a while, they think well, I'm so well, I won't get sick again. So they go off the meds, start keeping late nights, and in general they start doing the things they shouldn't be doing, all over again.

I've had depression since I was a teenager. I've never been suicidal. I've never had to spend weeks in bed. The reason I know I've had depression is that, for a time, I didn't. Many times. But each time the depression returned. It has been intractable.

My depression defines me. But not in the way you might think. While others with depression might be morose about how worthy they are, I look at my life and say "I have a wife who loves me, a son who respects me, a job where my advice is sought, friends who maintain their connections even after we've been separated by decades and great distance." If my depression defines me, I like to think it defines me as an overcomer.

Here's how I manage my depression. First of all, I recognize that my depression didn't prevent me from holding down a job, or being a good husband and father, or any of the other things that usually define us BEFORE I learned I had it, so there was no reason why it should after.

Second, I recognize that depression is an emotional (not mental) illness that is characterized by an imbalance of energy. I don't have enough of it. Yes, I use medication to help me with my depression, but I don't have the luxury of wasting my energy. Others can squander their energy on late nights and long grudges. They have energy to spare. I do not, so I cannot.

Third, I recognize that when I, despite my best efforts, don't have enough energy to do the things I think are important to do, I rest. I might take a sick day. My weekends are unscheduled. I will sometimes escape to my room and close the door. By whatever means, I rest.

Fourth, I stop resting after a while, and I start to dream. I think about what I can still accomplish. I think days down the road, then weeks, then months, then years. I know what I'm going to do the day I retire. When work gets tedious, I picture that thing, and I smile. (I'm not sure why I smile - the dream is to return to university to finish my Master's, and I don't recall university being a fun place, but I smile anyway.)

And then, after I dream, I again go forward, ready to do that which I have dreamed. And I begin anew the cycle of accomplishment / management / rest / dreaming.

Someday they may find a wonder drug that lifts my depression from me entirely. I'm not sure I want it. I would never have accomplished what I have accomplished had I not had the urgency of knowing that the times of accomplishment would always be followed by a time of conservation and renewing. I would never have been so close to so many hurting people had I not been able to say "I've been there". I would never have read as much, thought as much, dreamed as much.

What would my life have been like without depression? I don't know. I've never known much of anything else. But my life is good.

11:48 PM

 
Blogger Patrick said...

I take comfort in the words of the Bible which says "It came to pass". Notice it never says "It came to stay"?

11:51 PM

 

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