October 14, 2011

These Eyes See Lies: My Battles With Depression

By In Diary

Sorry I’ve been so silent these past few weeks people! I do that from time to time. Actually, the point of this post is to explain why I do that and hopefully help some of you who may share my problem that I am about to share. Today’s post is about depression. Let me start by sharing with you a little history of myself and this issue. First off, I come from a family background of people who suffered with depression. Specifically, chemical depression that is set off by a variety of different factors from diet to other various factors. Secondly, as I’ve shared before, my whole family is pretty shell-shocked from the way we were brought up. It’s never a good idea to raise a child in an unstable environment. Unfortunately, we have a family legacy of traumatizing our children. Not so much through physical abuse or other forms of abuse, but by things that would cause great stress and fear in our lives. Not being able to eat or unsure where you were going to sleep was mine, among other fears and stresses.

With my type of depression, I deal with thoughts of extreme loneliness and rejection. As a child, I never fit in and I’ve talked about it here in a post before. This caused me to put a value on myself and I always thought that I wasn’t as valuable as my peers. It made me feel sub-human and ashamed of who I was. So I tried to improve my presentation and up sale myself, but that never really flies with people because they see right through it. There had been a need in me for a long time to be approved by others. I’ve found myself in the past seeking that out to my own demise. I don’t recommend that, it’s not pleasant. The end result was always that I would feel dirty and full of lies about this masquerade I was putting on. I wasn’t being true to myself and my mind would punish me for it. I was in a constant destructive cycle of this for most of my life, up until a couple of years ago when I hit the breaks.

Let me explain how I was destructive to myself. You may notice how many of my works of art deal with perception in one way or another. Perception is very, VERY important to me. Perception can make God look like the Devil and the Devil look like God. If you were not aware of this, us humans don’t always recount things the same way. While many times they are close in similarity, some details stray when they’ve been floating around in a persons mind for a while. Another good example of perception is the episode of “MythBusters S11: Walk a Straight Line (recently aired on 10/12/11)” They set out to see if a person could walk a straight line to a destination if they had no visual or auditory influence to help guide them there. So they blindfolded themselves and put on noise cancelling ear phones and attempted to walk the line. Each and every attempt, they failed to reach the destination. In fact, the would walk in crazy spiral patterns with no idea that they had veered off so badly. They thought the were keeping very straight.

The problem was this; since they had no feedback informing them of their errors, their minds created it’s own perception of what was a straight line. They honestly felt they were moving in the right direction, but the information collected proved the opposite. What is depression then? It’s the equivalent of being blind and deaf. You’re trying to move forward and instead you move every direction except the way you want to go. This can be perilous, obviously. In life, we have metaphorical cliffs, ditches, walls, traffic and all sorts of things that can kill us in a instant. It’s a Mr. Magoo scenario, minus the dumb-luck. I can’t speak for all forms of depression, but for me it’s always been this way. I am so lucky to be here today, because I went on some 25 years without realizing I was doing this! You want to know how many people I turned against and saw as enemies? How about how many friends I lost over the years because they couldn’t understand what was going on with me? I’ve found myself in spots so bad that I literally have had to rebuild my life from the ground up.

I finally began to realize what I was doing a couple of years ago, while I was reading an old email I had sent to a friend that. I had an all out war with him at the time. As I was reading this, I remember wondering whose email this was. It didn’t sound familiar at all. I thought it was an error. When I saw my signature at the bottom, my mouth dropped and I just could not believe that’s what I wrote. I was appalled and stunned and I had to come to grips with the fact that I had wrote those things. I found many more emails similar to that and I started to remember writing them. I also remembered that I felt so justified and rational in what I was saying and doing. This was not healthy, clearly. I started a journey to find out where that came from. There’s an episode of the new Doctor Who where the Doctor meets Amy as an adult and has to point out to her a room that’s been in her house all along that she never noticed. He tells her that she never wanted to notice it because she was afraid of it and what was inside. That is exactly how I felt when I came face to face with my depression. My twisted perception exposed.

Since 2009, I’ve had a couple of ruts where I would sink back into depression and would see everything out of focus and askew. However, this time around I was much smarter with how I dealt with it. I learned to see the warning signs early and to prepare for the storm. I wrap up whatever I’m working on, I stop writing and I go on a mini vacation of sorts. The goal is to not focus on what my mind is generating during those cycles. I’ll feel like crap for a few days or sometimes even weeks, but I won’t validate any ideas that pop into my head about people rejecting me or about feeling alone. From experience, I know that if I try to reason with myself at that point, it will be fruitless and can sometimes make it worse. I do however make a mental note of some of the things that bubble up and I’ll reflect on it after the storm has passed when I’m of right mind again and able to see things clearly. Usually though, none of the things that I am felling during that time hold up once it’s over. I am always careful though to not sweep things under the rug. Sometimes, real problems manifest during my difficult days. I want to try and bring resolution to them when I am capable to do so.

I want to be extra clear that it’s unhealthy to ignore your problems. They are not going away, only festering under the surface and getting worse. There are times though with people like me where we just can’t deal with it at that moment. We need time to build up energy so that we can recuperate and renew our minds for the challenges ahead. Also, it’s almost impossible to do anything right when we’re going through those valleys. The best thing to do is to literally do nothing. Talking can be good though, but finding the right people to talk to is important. The best type of person to find is a listener, not a person who is going to force feed you their ideas. You can end up turning on a person like that.

So that’s how I deal with my depression in a way that doesn’t harm others or myself. If you are dealing with serious depression, thoughts of suicide or bodily harm, I encourage you to email me privately here at ele@elenichols.com and I will always be open to talk and even help you get in touch with the right people who can help. Good people are out there and no matter how bad things seem, many times it’s just impossible to see that when our minds are warped in this way. You are not alone and we are in this together, as corny as that sounds. No one should fight those dark forces alone and hopefully what I’ve said here will help convince you of that. I love you all so much for all your support and for reading my long ass posts. Any questions you have and comments, I will read and answer!

Exclusively Yours,
Ele Nichols

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