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Sour lemons

Sucking on Lemons

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: frotzed2

It’s like you asked me about the depression thing: you grope towards an understanding of whatever it is you’re going through, and it’s not personal, there are forces in play around you, and you seek to understand them and that way you can go on.

— Bob Geldof

Depression – whenever you encounter it – is inconvenient, sometimes painful and can be life changing.  There are many kinds of depression:

Situational: a major change, expected or unexpected, throws you for a loop and until you get your feet back under you, there’s discomfort, anxiety, uncertainty, and lots of blue days.

Chronic: like any chronic illness, this form of depression is a fact of life for you.  Living life includes minimizing its effects as much as possible.  A key is to understand how it plays out for you and to develop techniques which help you to reduce its effect on your life.

Major life milestones: often referred to as a midlife crisis, it can occur at any time, not just during mid-life.  When you run up against one of these crises, you get the opportunity to examine your life… and make choices.  That’s what a mid-life crisis is all about.  Ignore it at your own risk.

You may be thinking, “Whoa, there.  What about the biochemical source of depression?”  Well, there are definitely people who are “unbalanced” chemically.  For some of these people, it is a matter of taking an anti-depressant for the rest of their lives.  I have a friend who’s been on anti-depressants for close to 20 years now.  Every once in a while she’ll try to get off of them, but she finds that she gradually falls into a gray place and then she goes back on the anti-depressants.  For her, they are a real blessing.  She feels the normal ups and downs of life, but without the anti-depressants, she would be grouchy and less able to cope with her busy life.

Some people have fought depression for a very long time.  In these cases, usually habitual thought patterns are paired with the chemical imbalance.  If they want to feel better, they need to be conscious of their thoughts and make sure that they aren’t going overboard to the negative.  It requires a more active participation in their own healing.

Since the SSRI anti-depressants became a common help for people who struggle with depression, researchers have learned several things:

  • They can’t predict who will be helped by the anti-depressant.
  • For many people, anti-depressants lose their effectiveness over time.  Why is still a mystery.
  • There is no blood test for depression, nor to determine the level of anti-depressant required to make someone feel better.
  • There is no gene which is linked to depression.

This leaves us with lots of questions and not so many answers.

Unbalanced – Again!

I’m currently struggling with what I believe is a mid-life crisis.  To be fair, I experience one of these every so often.  It’s usually the result of restlessness with the path I’m following.  I may be bored, lonely, feeling underappreciated or just searching.  Sometimes, I make a major change.  Sometimes, I just revalidate that I prefer my current path to any other path that I am willing to consider.  According to M. Scott Peck in [amazon-product text=”The Road Less Traveled” type=”text”]0743243153[/amazon-product], this reevaluation phase is the purpose of a mid-life crisis – whenever it happens.

Part of the reevaluation means being willing to let go of current practices, beliefs, or roles.  It also involves trying on different choices of practices, beliefs and roles.  It becomes important to be able to think flexibly.  It is also important to be able to sit with discomfort because major changes like these are always initially uncomfortable.  Even as we move forward towards a new future, we mourn the past we choose to leave behind.

In my current search I’ve read/listened to several different books including:

[amazon-product text=”Embrace the Struggle” type=”text”]143914219X[/amazon-product] Zig Ziglar
[amazon-product text=”Better Than Good – Creating the Life You Can’t Wait to Live” type=”text”]0785289194[/amazon-product] Zig Ziglar
[amazon-product text=”Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” type=”text”]031035451X[/amazon-product] Philip Yancey and Paul Brand
[amazon-product text=”Love Wins – A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” type=”text”]006204964X[/amazon-product] Rob Bell
[amazon-product text=”Happy for No Reason” type=”text”]1416547738[/amazon-product] Marci Schimof and Carol Kline
[amazon-product text=”Hand-Me-Down Blues” type=”text”]0312263325[/amazon-product] Michael Yapko

These are all very good books.  They have wonderful ideas and at some point, I will probably come back to them.  They are not, however, the solution to my problem.

This Too Shall Pass

I know that I’ve been seriously depressed before.  I can remember when I was a young accounting clerk working for a small company, I went through a really rough period.  I think that what happened was that I eventually decided to go back to college and get my degree.  In the meantime, I read books on depression and unhappiness and you might say I just sat with the feeling.  And maybe that’s what I need to do here; sit with the feeling AND accept who I am and where I am in my life.

In the musical Camelot, King Arthur is trying to figure out what is bothering his queen.  Having been trained by Merlin, he tries to find the answer in what Merlin taught him:

But no matter, Merlin told me once,
Don’t be too disturbed if you don’t understand what a woman is thinking –
They don’t do it very often.  (Merlin was a bit of a chauvinist!)

But what do you do while they’re doing it?

That’s my question, what do I do while I’m thinking?

How to handle a woman.  Listen well, I will tell you sir.
The way to handle a woman is to love her – simply love her –
merely love her… love her… love her.

Maybe that’s the key.  Judge myself less, love myself more.  It can’t hurt.

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