I haven’t thought about depression in a while…maybe over two weeks now. I’m not really sure. I have been trying to focus on things to keep my mind busy, but last night I had a little dip in the mood. It’s one of those things that I notice, because it’s usually a strong indicator that something deeper is approaching. I have learned some things about depression…or, rather, I have learned more about myself and how my mood changes.
I follow someone on Twitter that is a therapist, and she posted something the other day about men and depression. The reason it hit me is because it reminded me of some of the times that I was at my darkest – some of you had witnessed it in the last two blogs I kept. I was reminded about how far into the major depressive episode before I even recognized it as depression. I am so out of touch with my emotional being…er, I mean I used to be so out of touch with my emotional being, that I would never have recognized that I was “sad” or “depressed”. The person I follow on Twitter, made reference to this phenomena in men – that it is a disease that is not often noticed, let alone treated. As a point to prove it, I read the other day that the suicide rate is overwhelmingly contributed to by men (I think the statistic was like 80%, but I don’t remember the exact rate).
I thought about depression a little and how it related to me. I thought that I had a lot of major contributing factors – an ex-cop, a strained marriage, family members that have committed suicide, coming to terms with my sexuality (bisexuals have a much higher rate of mental health problems), loss of a job/career, etc. Sometimes, I look back and I wonder how I made it through, how I managed to overcome it all. Truthfully, I know I didn’t do it alone and I didn’t do it without intervention. I had a lot of therapy, a lot of introspection, a lot of friends online that would listen to me whine, and so on. I am truly grateful.
But I recognize that it is not something that disappears from me. I still feel it from time to time. And last night, it felt like it was creeping in a little bit. I noticed the negative feelings I was beginning to have. I noticed the subtle, dark, ugly voice in my head that speaks to me in ways that are less than encouraging (Some of you may remember I had named her Hilda). I didn’t like it, but I recognized it was there. I recognized it was trying to pull me back. She is always there, though sometimes she is quiet. And what I really noticed when she was talking is that I was not listening to the other voice that encourages me. The voice that tells me to take care of myself. That voice that informs me of all of the things that make me happy (Oddly enough, I’ve never named that voice…maybe I should?).
My depression shows itself in many different self-destructive ways. Primarily, I stop putting attention on my health. And an interesting snowball effect is that once I start down a path of self-destructive behavior, I look for ways that make me happy – temporarily – that are actually things that propagate not feeling well. And last night, as I felt bad, I realized the previous 24 hours involved not eating right. You see, as you might remember, I’m a type 1 diabetic (which means I need insulin), and I realized I had not tested my blood sugar all day and I was eating and taking insulin without really knowing what I needed.
So, I did the one thing that would counter how I was feeling – I tested my blood sugar to figure out what I needed. It was high. Really, really high; so, I took the insulin I needed and by this morning it was fixed. But I also noticed that I wanted to continue what I did yesterday and I began to recognize it. So, I’m going through a process today of dealing with the basics – my health.
Long ago, I decided that nothing else mattered, if I don’t try and live in a way that takes care of basic needs. It seems like such an obvious statement, but it is one that is often forgotten and sometimes ignored. I haven’t always been successful with it, but one of the tools I am relying upon is the one that seems the most obvious. Rather than trying to focus on some big, sweeping change in my life, I have decided that there are distinct priorities that matter more than anything else – and life, regardless of how it might be lived, has to be the basic need we have to protect. So, when I feel the subtle little voice of Hilda, I’ve decided it suits me to test my blood sugar…