Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Have you gone Mental? (XXV)

When you have mixed depression and anxiety there is a feeling you probably will encounter... feeling like a loser. I just went through a day and 1/2 like this. It began yesterday when I got together with a long time (15 years) friend. He is an extremely successful individual, retired about 12 years "early" and is significantly involved in community service and philanthropy.

I felt no judgment from my friend as I described myself as having "gone mental", suffer from depression-anxiety, and have been debilitated by it. Only compassion was found in his affect when I said I had not yet determined when I could return to work. His words were gentle and sympathetic as we continued to discuss how much I miss my job, felt I could in no way (at this time) withstand the stress that went with it, and believe that I did not want to return to any kind of couneling or social service occupation when I (hopefully) am able to go to work.

In my depression-anxiety I looked to my past (almost always a mistake) and remembered having been "somebody". I managed an employee assistance program, a spiritual care service, and a chemical dependency program at a hospital. I was one of the "ultimate volunteers" in our community serving as a member on five social service type boards; some of which I had also served as president. I had a private practice in counseling from 1986 through 2009, and have almost always been an active participant in a faith community. I was very busy and, at the time felt, very fulfilled... I think.

Now I virtually do nothing. I am nearly idle. Almost all the things I once did, I do no longer. My Rotary Club and my Faith Community are all I can be involved right now. My involvement isn't really involvement, it is attendance. I am re-learning socialization and involving myself in a very, very small amount of service at this time. As I looked back... all I saw was a loser.

Let me say, in my more sane moments, I do not feel like a loser. I have a serious diorder that does not allow me to be so busy, to be among many people, and to be involved. I miss the people with whom I voluntered and those with whom I worked side-by- side in my job. I am certain none of these 100 +/- people feel I am a loser. I think it goes to show how much I identified myself as a "human doing rather than a human being". Some pop-psych author (who I can't remember) coined that catchy phrase.

I am not a loser and neither are you. I am starting over. There is a new plan for me that lies ahead. From my spiritual background, I feel God has another calling for the next (last?) 43 +/- years of my life. I truly think that I am not always going to be this way. One day as I follow my process, I will be set free from this painful disorder and be walking in a productive, new way. I pray almost daily for God to show me the way. I ask him to call me to a new life of gainful employment balanced with service. That's what I am trying to believe that will happen.

God, my friends, my family, and my professional care-takers all tell me that I will heal. (No, I am not hearing God speak to me.) I will be able to work again one day and I will work smart so I don't run myself down and open myself to major stress. This stress is able to play a part (along with a bunch of other things) and open me to another serious bout with mental health disorders.

I am hopeful and I hope you are too. There is much to look forward to. Although it is normal to have dark thoughts of death, I am trying to remember that I want to hang around and see what happens. As trite as that sounds I truly believe God is going to reveal what I should do next. I want to be available and ALIVE to experience it and see his plan unfold in my life. This may run counter to your spirituality, it is my belief and approach. I hope your spirituality opens you to hope and possibilities in your life. I have found my personal faith in a personal God does this for me.

Once again, I am not a loser and neither are you. Just becasue I can spend an entire day and 1/2 in the depths of depression in no way indicates I am a loser. I forgot that this huge hole exists on my path. Sometimes I remember to walk around, sometimes I fall in.

Typos and all ... God bless you!

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