The Authenticity of Self

If it’s easy, then it’s not real.

Authenticity is a powerful attribute. For the first time, I was not only honest with myself, I was honest with friends. When asked how I was feeling, instead of being dishonest and sugarcoating a hopeful response, as I have done my entire life, I was truthful. I was able to open myself to a degree that felt comfortable and real. I explained how I was feeling better but still not yet at the place I want to be.  Not only was this important for me but this is important for all of my relationships. Most significantly, though, I want to model this for my daughter so she will know what being authentic really means.
One of the most startling realizations that I have had recently in therapy was that I have been waiting for a false self to emerge. Last year as I was feeling better from that episode of depression, I experienced joy, true joy and bliss. This occurred with my husband, our daughter, family and friends. I had never before felt such feelings of happiness. I believed I would continue to feel this level of happiness but as I became ill again, I lost it. I still felt moments of happiness in my relationships but not at the same level. Since I became ill again, I have been patiently waiting for that joy and elation to return, however it hasn’t. It was only during a recent therapy session when I learned it won’t. My therapist explained that those euphoric feelings were real but only because I had never felt them before. Those feelings were not realistic though in the long-term and as the tears fell down my cheeks, she also explained how I actually had been experiencing those “moments” in the past months, which she pointed out with numerous examples of things I had brought up during past sessions. I am still absorbing this information and in some ways, mourning the loss. I know that what I have gained is so much more, but the memories of feeling the joy and pleasure at such a high level are still so fresh in my mind. This is how I can be authentic: own my feelings and accept them while moving forward.
While I know who I am, as a wife and a mother, I am still learning who I am to myself. This is a difficult process and requires more than my weekly therapy session, more than the pills that help promote my stability and more than the ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) that I receive. For the person who believed she was receiving exactly the kinds of treatment needed, I was informed that I actually could benefit from an additional mode of therapy. While it took some months to accept this and understand how I would benefit from it, I have finally agreed with my therapist that DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) would greatly benefit me as I move forward in my recovery. I will be starting group therapy, which will be another new experience and will work on myself in a way that I never have before.

So, this is me being authentic. It’s been a rough road but I am finally beginning to allow myself to heal, to really heal. Instead of manipulating situations where the end result is me feeling intense psychological pain, it is time to let go of the pain and allow myself some peace. That is my goal at this point in my treatment and while this will be a difficult goal to accomplish, this is what is left:  It is time for me to accept that I deserve peace and all of the blessings I have in my life. How much more authentic can I get?

Here Comes the Rain Again

Here comes the rain again
Raining in my head like a tragedy
Tearing me apart like a new emotion

Annie Lennox is narrating my life right now. Indeed it is raining again and it is a tragedy. It’s back and it’s taking me prisoner. It came on slowly and calmly in the late spring but the past few weeks have solidified it and named it for what it is: severe major depressive episode.
Biology is an interesting thing and I am learning much about my own. Each hour I can feel the anxiety, fear, sadness, guilt and solitude and these feelings are strong and they are real. I am sick…again. Different from last summer, but just as incapacitating. Let’s try this med and decrease the other, oh wait, now you are having akathisia (restlessness and agitation) so we need to stop the other new med. I feel like I have danced this dance many times and it feels just as frustrating and scary as it always has.
I am lucky to have invested treatment providers and, of course, my family and friends. I kept quiet for a while because I did not want to make it real and I did not want to disappoint anyone that I could not maintain myself.
My mind is full of negatives and fatigue. How to help someone like me in this situation? Please do not ignore it. You can ask how I am feeling. You can ask if you can do anything to help. You can simply be with me, offer a hug (I may or may not accept, so please do not take it personally!). I need that cheering section to offer its voice, yet again. I need prayers for health and I need your positive wishes.
I hope to have a better plan tomorrow. Weekends are difficult especially during this transition in terms of changing my meds. I can make it through today with the promise of tomorrow. Good thing there is  no rain in the forecast for tomorrow.

Hard Day

You know when you have a bad day, you can do your best to shake it off? Well, I had a bad day but it was not like anything I could “shake off.” To go over my weekend, on paper, it looked great. My brother and his boyfriend came to visit on Saturday and to see me at my first Speak Up event (storytelling: theme was “bad romance”). I am used to public speaking and used to do trainings at my last job so I am very comfortable in front of a crowd. I started to get nervous later in the day but I pushed forward and got in front of the microphone and told my story. I am convinced everyone could tell my hands were shaking and I am convinced everyone could tell my mouth became very dry very quickly. One of my medications causes these side effects which become heightened when I am nervous. I think I did okay but I am doubting myself. My husband looked so proud of me, which helped me push away the negative thoughts.

While I had a good morning today, it was still filled with bits of anxiety of unknown origin. It ebbed and flowed to the point where I felt emptiness one minute and anxiety the next. This is a very disturbing feeling and I feel it in the pit of my stomach. Anyone who suffers from anxiety can understand that horrible sensation.

So, after a phone call with my shrink, yet another medication adjustment. While I know I am getting somewhere in my treatment, it is slow and I am not someone who does “slow.” I like to solve problems immediately, nip it in the bud. I want what I want and I want it now. It is difficult to have these personality traits when depressed because the trajectory of getting better is not a straight line up. Just as my anxiety ebbed and flowed today, so does the line on the chart that measures the lifting of a depression.

I am holding on and fighting…it was just a hard day.