Monday, 25 May 2015

Additional Thoughts on "Another Group of Three - Pt 3"

Image by bykst (
I was concerned about the effect my post, Another Group of Three - Pt 3, might have on my recovery. To be safe, I reached out to my counsellors and gave them links to the post.

Not surprisingly, they asked questions, good questions, questions that forced me to think. I took a short sabbatical from posting and gave them the consideration they deserved.

One question I was asked focussed on a couple of sentences from that post. I wrote:
I suffer from Major Depressive Disorder. I will always suffer from Major Depressive Disorder. I've known this for many years but tried to ignore it. By ignoring my illness, I set in motion the causal connections that led to September 2, 2014.

On reflection, these remarks attribute to me an understanding about myself that I didn't have, particularly on September 2, 2014. My near-death on that date and the research and therapies and analyses (both professional and self-directed) that followed, helped me to view my past and recognize additional incidents of prolonged depression. So, although I now realize that I've lived with Major Depressive Disorder for decades, this understanding wasn't always the case.

What I did know was that I was moody, someone we Scots would call a "dour bugger". During my teens, I attributed the moodiness to typical teenage mood swings. When I was older, I attributed them to the stresses of post-secondary studies, or shift work, or money problems, or raising a family, or a bad nights sleep. In other words, the same stresses that everyone experiences. Even though I knew I wasn't always so dour, it didn't occur to me to seek a solution for what I didn't realize to be a problem.

Image "Hiding Cat"
by The Next Web Photos
I also knew that there were days, which I called Black Days, where the best thing I could do was stay in my room with a pillow over my eyes and let the mood work itself away. The solitude soothed me and helped me regain balance.

Initially, these Black Days never seemed to stick around for long. They came, and they went. I didn't see them as the harbingers of the larger issue that they clearly were. Over time though, as these things are wont to do, the episodes of The Black grew in frequency, duration and, to my everlasting regret, depth of despair. Again, I see this now. I didn't truly see it then immersed in each cycle as I was.

You see, as I mentioned above, when I was in the midst of an episode there was always some external event (employment instability, marital breakup, financial woes and the like). The setback suggested my grim mood was a natural reaction. Everybody has setbacks, and everybody reacts to them in different ways. But, with time the grimness dissipated and my mood improved. Since The Black went away, I didn't think I needed help.

Now, why did I use the word "truly" above? It's a small concession to a troubling possibility: somewhere deep within myself I knew that these episodes of Black Days were more than a reaction to the typical stresses of life. If this is so, I did, as I wrote in the sentences quoted above, ignore my illness and set in motion the causal events that led to my attempted suicide. But I'm also able to accept that I didn't recognize the real danger of The Black since it was, after all, not uncommon and did go away. So, I may have suspected a larger problem but since it wasn't causing any real harm, I gave it only passing consideration. I didn't, I must stress, think that I was suffering from a mental illness - a mood disorder.

And that is the crux of the matter. By not seeing the danger, it overwhelmed me, exhausted me, pushed me into an existence that was less than living. And it nearly killed me.

Image "La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles" by Garrett Ziegler
On September 2, 2014 I learned the true danger of The Black. The Black has infinite patience. The Black is relentless. The Black is unforgiving. The Black is the tar pit of despair, swallowing you whole, surrounding you, suffocating you in its finality, striving never to let you go.

Ultimately, The Black KILLS.

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