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Depression burst on my after extended pressureful work for long with little rest in 2007. Ever since I am drugs. My question, is depression permanent?
In the spirit of trying to address the question asked by @rollinsk about "Is depression permanent" I have already sort of put in my 2 cents with my reply to @jimhd. For me, depression (or my brand of it) definitely was NOT permanent. I did not get into detail in the previous post as to how I went about pulling out of it, other than to say that with my wife's help and many many discussions with her about my issues among a variety of other topics, I was able to dismantle the drivers of my depression to a large degree. So rather than wait until later to tell this tale I have decided to" just do it" as Nike says.
These drivers began when I was very young, not sure of the exact age but by 9 at least. I felt to a very substantial degree, like I did not fit into the world. I felt much dislike of myself. This was made worse after the age of seven when I started to get fat and spent the next 7 years or so as a chubby kid. I became extremely self conscious. I remember looking at myself in the bathroom mirror as a kid and pretty much just hating what I saw. At 14 I got skinny after a growth spurt of about 8 inches, so I was not chubby anymore or at least not overtly so. I looked pretty normal in that way. I still thought I was an ugly person (in retrospect, I wasn't).
My father moved us to a different part of the Chicago area when I was 14 so I started my first year of high school not knowing anyone. The kids in the new area were more affluent than in my old town and I had a difficult time relating to them. This move deepened my depression that I was already living with. And it continued into college, then into my post college employment.
What really helped a lot was finding God when I was 24. With a very strong Faith developing I at least had Him as a rock or center for my life, but it did not eliminate the depression, but lightened it somewhat. Then I got married and my wife turned out to be the most amazing counselor. We started to have what we referred to as "coffee time" every morning and would chat for about 1 to 2 hours each day, before I went to work. A few years of this did wonders for me. But I still had many of these same drivers that had made me very unhappy for so long.
Then she watched a show by a therapist named John Bradshaw on PBS, called "Healing the shame that binds you". Also another one of his call "The family". She got a ton of help herself dealing with her demons, especially from the Family series. But then somewhere she read about something she called "The Work". I will have to ask her where it came from exactly, I don't remember. She began doing The Work on herself, and after a time I began to notice changes in her personality. Very good changes. Like a new maturity and a new calmness. After we had dinner with a friend at a restaurant at which he commented on the changes he also was noticing in her, I began to realize I needed to start trying to do this for myself. This was probably when I was around 34 or 35 or so.
Mainly what The Work consisted of for me was dedicating a large amount of time sitting quietly alone in a room, becoming very still and just trying to remember incidents in my childhood in which I was hurt in some way emotionally by someone else, be it my father, mother, siblings or someone else. This involved much dredging up of old memories, which takes a lot of thought and time. I would think of some way that I felt badly about myself and tried to tie it to some specific incident in my childhood. I would try to view the incident in a way in which I could see how I was wrongly hurt by another person (I often was emotionally abused by my older brother for example) . And I would try to realize how wrong that was. I tried to view myself as an objective third person, and tried to tell that person who was me that I had deserved to be loved in that situation, and I tried to feel that love as that little person. Through just giving that small little person who had been me the love I should have been given then, it somehow dismantled the drivers that were created in me by that situation.
I know this is too long, and I apologize, but it's actually just a tiny nutshell version of what I went through, hopefully just enough to perhaps peak someone's interest in trying to do work on themself. I wish good mental health to you all. Hank
PS: If my wife can tell me about where she learned about The Work, I will post that separately. She's still asleep.
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Hank – Thank you for sharing your journey and insights.
At one hospitalization the therapists there used what's called Family of Origin which help me realize how my family's abusive environment affected me and still does at times. I had to move away from them and all the drama.
Again, thank you for your honesty!
@jesfactsmon Hi Hank, Just had to read what you had to say about your journey with/through depression. Thanks so much for sharing. Love you, and I think maybe I need to do "The Work." With me, it was my mom and my sister. Lori Renee
Thank you so much. I have posted a lot and I mean a LOT about my depression and why. So much of it goes back to our childhood. After marrying two abusers, I have married a man who lived a wonderful life with his parents, his friends, everything. He says he can't even fathom abuse and the dysfunctional things my family portrays. Last night my bp got to 200/100 at midnight. I think I need nerve pills but my doctor won't give them to me because I take pain pills for my back. I need surgery but have no intention at this time of getting it. I am waiting for my doctor's office to get back to me with a code so I can get on my portal. I keep screwing up my passwords. I have no idea how many times I have had to change it! I think it makes my bp rise.
@jimhd Thanks for sharing your story, Jim. I so appreciate your depth. I do believe there is a strong biological and environmental components to depression, and I do know what it feels like to be seriously depressed. I was very fortunate in that an OCD med helped me greatly. Anyway, thanks for sharing. Lori Renee
Hi Lori, my ever present friend. How did you find my post over here so fast, you are a whiz! Yes I really want to find out where Linda came up with The Work. I just remember she started talking about it, soon after the Bradshaw shows and all of that stuff. The late eighties were a period of real growth for the two of us. Well, life in general has been quite a trip, with lots of growth bouts I guess, but that period in particular was quite something. Love you too, Hank
@jimhd Hi Jim, thanks for fleshing out what your history has been with depression. Since I mostly only participate in the neuropathy discussions, where you have mentioned only tangentially that you live with it, I didn't have a full picture. I lived with a form of depression from about age 9 or 10 until about 35 (I am 68 now), but I don't feel I have depression any longer so obviously yours is very different than mine. Mine was what I would call a personality issue or disorder. I am not certain there was not some physical component to it, but I think I did not have clinical depression. Let me say right here that I do not know anything about depression other than my own experience, never talked about it at length with anyone who had it, and am coming at it here as only a wide-eyed novice.
My question about your situation, which developed from a post you wrote the other day is how your depression developed? When did you first become aware of something being wrong? Were your childhood, youth and early adulthood okay? Did this seem to happen to you suddenly, or at least over some sort of time frame, where you were "okay" and then eventually you were not anymore? From this I would just like to understand whether there was a physical change in your makeup that brought this on, or whether it all started as a purely psychological problem, and when you think it all began, and what may have triggered it (if there is such a thing as a trigger for depression). I don't know why my personality was so screwed up early in life, it just was. I do know what I did to get rid of it, and it was not drugs at all, and no therapist except my wife, who could have been a therapist, she is pretty talented that way, a natural counselor. It also involved a lot of self introspection, what my wife called "The Work". Maybe I can talk about that another time.
So that is what I wonder about you Jim, i.e. did you have an identifiable depresion-free period in your earlier life and then the Big "D" started, or did you always deal with it in some form, and how much is physical only, etc. I understand that you may or may not have answers to these questions. You always seem pretty open to talking about yourself but I only ask for whatever you feel comfortable revealing. I have never looked back at my own situation much in recent years and I guess I would like to understand better just what did really happen to me and how did I get depressed and then get undepressed. Okay, I will leave it there for now. Best, Hank
@jesfactsmon Wow, Hank. You're asking a lot of me, actually more than I've ever considered seriously.
I remember reading Bradshaw's book "Healing the Shame…" quite a few years ago.
I mentioned that I addressed the idea of depression to my doctor 18 years ago. It's the first time I'd ever considered the possibility that I was depressed. But, therapists have suggested to me that I'd lived with it for a long time. But when did it start?
I'm just now turned 70, so childhood was aeons ago, but with what I've learned over the past 18 years is that I was tormented by multiple demons since pre-adolescence. (I'm writing this on my laptop tonight, but usually use my phone, and I'm assisted on the phone by spell check. So please forgive any misspelled words, as I haven't figured out yet how to find that feature. Not sure I want to because it too often miscorrects me.) I don't mean I was demon possessed. Other kind of demons.
I was painfully shy, but compensated by being the class clown. My father was a minister all of his adult life – more than 50 years – and was seriously underpaid. To support the 8 of us, he always had a second job, which meant we didn't see a lot of him. Being poor meant that new clothes were out of the question, so we took hand me downs from people in the church. That meant to me, old man clothes. I hated it. I desperately wanted to wear the tight jeans everyone else wore. I started my first job when I was 12, doing a paper route. When I had saved enough, I bought myself a pair of black, very tight, jeans, which I'm sure my parents didn't approve, but I don't remember ever hearing a negative comment from them about my selection of stylish clothing. Tight jeans are back, and I still like to wear them. I'm glad the baggy pants phase is history.
I was always skinny. By the 7th grade I was 6' 3", less than 150 pounds, with a 28" waist. In college I tried various things to gain weight, but never did until I was around 50. One day at the doctor's office, I weighed in at 208, and I was facing yet another size of pants up, to 38". I decided I wasn't going to do that, and in 2015 I went from 208 to 155 in six months without a diet. I just ate smaller portions, didn't take seconds except for vegetables and fruit, and stopped compulsive snacking. Last year I regained around 15 pounds, which was ok, but I wanted to wear the same sizes I did as a college student. I've reached that goal, but seem to be losing weight still.
All of that to say that I hated my body, hated my old man secondhand clothes, hated that my father always kept his 3 sons' hair cut to a butch cut. Self-esteem? What's that? I didn't have it, but if I did, it was way low, and has never gotten much better. I felt different because of clothes and hair and shyness. I went steady we several girls in high school, but I'd never kissed a girl until after my wife and I were engaged. And have never kissed any other girl, except my daughter and granddaughters, of course, but that's different.
The words depression, anxiety, OCD, etc., weren't part of our working vocabulary, so I never learned to recognize signs. I should insert that our family was, and always has been, close knit and loving. To my knowledge, none of us ever experienced any kind of abuse at home. (I thought having to wear passed down clothes was abusive.)
Our family was musically oriented. All six kids learned at least one instrument, and my mother was a gifted violinist. Dad met her in college, where they played their violins together in the orchestra. Dad gave up violin soon after he was married, but he was a very good singer. I started piano lessons in the 3rd grade, and because I was aware of the sacrifice it was for my parents to pay for lessons, I always practiced a lot. Music was my college degree, with a focus on piano, and I worked for 35 years as music director of churches in California and Oregon, playing piano, keyboards, organ and vibes (my parents got a vibraharp when I was in high school, and I became pretty good at it. I still have it, but stored in a corner of the garage). After 35 years, I took 2 years off and painted houses, and then I became the pastor of a church in a small town (247 population), where I served for 10 years, until I had to retire at 55 on SS disability because of mental health issues. I'm still ordained, but only volunteer at our church, playing the piano.
Abuse came later in life. I suppose that the teasing and bullying was abuse when I was a child. Much of it was doled out by bosses who were controlling, verbally demeaning and just unkind. Some of my bosses were great men, and I still respect them. But others made up for their greatness. Since I've said that I was a church music director for 35 years, you have probably figured out that the men I refer to as bosses were the head pastors. I stayed in a couple of abusive situations longer than I should have, because they were the foundations of my PTSD. The 2 years spent painting houses, a trade my father taught me, were primarily recovery time, from my last and worst music position.
After those 2 years we were asked to pastor a church in that remote village, after a previous pastor had run nearly all of the parishioners off. The town was a genuine community. The first 5 or 6 years were a pleasure, until I began to recognize in myself the signs of depression. I was gradually becoming less and less able to function. A year or so into depression, a small group of women in the church decided I had to go, and started spreading false accusations. At the same time, they wanted me to permit the use of the church building by a group of fringe Christians. By fringe, I mean they taught and did things that I thought were completely inappropriate, and were in direct opposition to the beliefs of our church and denomination. They were incensed when I said no, after visiting one of their meetings and discussing it with several ministers around the state whose wisdom I greatly respected. One day they came to my home to talk about it, and I was sitting in my leather chair, curled up under a blanket, nearly catatonic. It meant nothing to them that I was suffering. In fact, when asked, they told me that I had Satan working in me, and various other equally helpful things.
I stayed through that for almost a year. I guess I'm a bit stubborn, and hate to quit.
I hesitated to mention any of that stuff because I don't want to paint the whole Christian church in that one broad stroke. Thankfully, it's uncommon in my experience. But people are people, whether in church or school boards or Masons or Lions or wherever. But what happened to me was brutal, and ramped up my depression, drowned the little self esteem I had, and piled on trauma that pushed me into a PTSD nightmare, and over the edge of a deep, dark, bottomless hole of depression, where the only way out that I could see was suicide. I was in that hole for more than 6 years. It was an experience I won't forget, that I don't want to repeat. It was really hard to get out into the light of sanity and safety. I stopped the suicide attempts, though that's not to say that the suicidal ideation stopped.
Traumatic events and injury can be addressed and dealt with by moving forward, but they, for me, at least, never totally disappear because they were part of what shaped me. I've long since done the work of forgiving, but in some way, I think that I don't want ever to forget. The meanness thrust on me makes me more aware of my own attitudes, and makes me want to be better than that. I've always been a steady, consistent, gentle, patient, considerate person, and I'm not demonstrating pride in saying that. It's just been my nature. Perhaps that's one reason unkindness, meanness, slander, vitriol have been so hard for me to deal with. I deactivated my Facebook account for the same reasons.
So, Hank, I hope I've covered a few of your questions. Some people find relief when they find or return to faith. My faith is something that has been a constant. During my stay in the post suicide place, I woke one morning to the word abandonment. I mentioned it to one off the counselors, and she or he suggested I consider it for the day. My first thought was that I was certain God had not and would not abanon me. Some people would turn from their faith faced by some of my life experiences, but that hasn't been true for me. God didn't do any of that stuff to me. Imperfect (normal) humans did it. So I don't direct any of my negative thoughts toward Him. Without God, I'd have checked out long ago. And without my faith, I know I'd have made some foolish choices, a subject for a bound set of 20 books. My wife is tired of this man she didn't marry. Not tired of me, but tired of living with what I've become. And I get tired of fighting the various battles that I face daily. That's not a very upbeat way to end an essay, but it's pretty close to the life I live now, with 6 being my new 9.
I choose not to address other life battles in a public setting, but save that for my therapist. Perhaps the day will come when I can "feel comfortable revealing", as you put it, Hank. I probably have plenty to share publicly without exploring those other pieces of who I am.
@jimhd Jim, thank-you for sharing this saga of yours. I can hardly get my head around the immensely painful difficulties you have faced. I know that pain is pain. You have now had both the emotional variety and the physical variety and I think it would be difficult to assess which would be worse for any given person. As I say, you have had both, a double whammy, and just listening to you describe this journey, and I know you just scratched the surface here, I believe for you the emotional one is by far the hardest one. And although by no means do I equate what you have experienced to what I experienced in terms of depression, I at least feel I have a little insight into yours by having the memories of what I did go through. It is difficult to convey to someone who has not experienced it just how painful depression can be. The blackness you are in is so unpleasant as to be almost unbearable. And as relentless as physical pain can be and is, it does not give any more suffering to a person than depression, just a different kind of suffering.
Did you have periods where the horrible aspects would let up for a time? Mine manifested by going in cycles or waves. As dark and awful as I would feel, for days or sometimes weeks, it would eventually let up and, although I would not feel overall happiness at all, I would at least spend a few days to maybe a week or two in kind of a state of forgetting, sort of a numbness I guess. Did that happen for you? I think yours was much worse than mine. I mean you didn't know you were depressed through a lot of it but you were without knowing it. I kind of knew I was depressed. I am pretty sure my family must have sensed it as well, how could they not? But it never occurred to anybody, certainly not me, to seek any type of help or therapy. In hindsight it probably would have been a good thing for me.It just wasn't a part of my family's life experience, therapy I mean. What an amazing thing to find out my wife was a natural born counselor. She got me to talk, she asked lots and lots of questions and I started to look at every aspect of myself which I had never done before, at least out loud to another person. Boy did I take big strides when that began to happen.
I'd like to say more but I have to start to get ready to do my Red Cross deliveries so I will sign off for now. I really appreciate you talking about all of this Jim. I think you are a great person, and I am so happy to get to know you and about your difficulties in life. Whether you know it or not, you are a true inspiration to me and others as well I am sure. Okay, take care for now my friend. Talk later. Hank
Hi, even though I am not a doctor, therapist or medical professional, I can attest to the fact that depression can last for a long time and can have definite ups and downs, hills and valleys. I can also say that with the help of those professionals, you can find the right meds, therapies, groups and support of God and loved ones to live above that depression. I believe the key is to Never, Never Give Up! I am not just pontificating as my depression started when I was 18 and I am now 70. Does it last forever? I don't think so.
@jimhd Just a few further thoughts regarding this incredible story of yours. Firstly I too hated the clothes my mom bought for me when I was a boy. They were not hand-me-downs but she always bought black slacks for me. And dress shirts. And black patent leather shoes. Here I was this dorky chubby kid, painfully aware of how uncool I looked, what torture! Just wanted you to know you were not alone in that aspect of childhood. To this day I hate black pants and baggy slacks.
I also hear you about bad bosses. I did anything I could to avoid bosses who were stupid and jerks, a particularly bad combo. I had a couple of them for a time but avoided those mostly. My brother told me recently that he went into business for himself just so he could avoid ever having to have a boss. Smart move.
I mentioned over in the neuropathy discussion about how I dealt with my depression by working on my "inner child". I can't say enough about just how powerful and effective that strategy was. As I mentioned before, my wife and I watched a series of John Bradshaw's shows on PBS in the 80's. The one I didn't mention was "Homecoming: Reclaiming and Healing Your Inner Child". I think this and the other two, "Healing the Shame that Binds You" and "The Family" have the power to change a person's life, dramatically and permanently.
But it was the inner child work I did that made a HUGE difference for me. I recommend anyone interested to either look for those shows (maybe on youtube?) or get his books. They kind of all work synergistically so best to read all three if you are seriously looking to address your childhood issues. Mine led to decades of depression. I am way happier and more balanced now.
@jesfactsmon @jimhd Funny how I set out with good intentions to do a post for this conversation, then sidetrack myself. Avoidance? Fear of over-exposure? Combination of both? Probably. I have spent a lot of time reviewing my history of depression and anxiety, and currently am reviewing it again with a professional. John Bradshaw work was something I also did, and had forgotten about it. Like you, it changed many things for me, and I was also involved in 12-step work then. Looking back, it was very beneficial; as there wasn't a supportive family nor partner available to me.
As each of us will attest to, depression can be defined in different ways, and each of our stories are our own, even though there may be similarities. Even within the same family, an event will be interpreted differently. That doesn't make it "wrong" or "okay", it makes it what it is. For example, my mother's brother-in-law tickling me until I screamed was seen as no big deal. To me, it was terrifying, and 60 years later I remain leery of physical touch.
Is depression permanent? Small manifestations can be present all our lives. It takes hard work to gather ourselves each day, to get to the sunset each day, to see the sun rise each morning. We do what we have to. I don't want to live in a dark hole, but I have visited there. Often. I know the signs, even though growing up I had no idea that what I experienced was not usual for everyone else. I only knew what was usual for our family, and its glorious dysfunction. Am I successful in holding the depression at bay? Most days, yes.
@rollinsk started this discussion, but I have not seen any recent posts. Are you still reading? What are your thoughts?
@gingerw Ginger thanks for your post and thanks for that great question, is @rollinsk still paying attention? It seems like I have see more than a few discussions started by someone, and even when some of those discussions really get rolling, you never hear hide nor hare of the originator, ever. Can't figure it out. Oh well, to your thoughts. I think that maybe it's better to view the "permanence" of depression as simply that some people end up dying before their issues get resolved. Not so much that they couldn't be resolved, but that they just don't get the energy they need to get them to resolution. That's for psychological depression. If there is such a thing as purely physical depression maybe sometimes it inevitably goes the whole way, i.e. it's permanent.
Not to get too metaphysical, but if (as I believe) we move on after death to something else, perhaps all the baggage we have goes with us also (not a pleasant thought now that I am saying it). But then you have Jim @jimhd who has obviously done all that one could possibly be expected to do to try to unravel his demons (his words) but still have much of them still hanging around, i.e. he is still suffering from depression at age 70. My hope for someone like you Jim is that you can break out into the daylight of depression-free existence asap, or at least at some point. I don't know if that will be the case but I fervently hope so.
I am sure I was depressed. But I was also a true Gemini, and swung back and forth between feeling pretty okay and feeling deeply unhappy, for years. I was not bipolar, though my wife thinks I had tendencies toward it. I don't know what happened totally, but I do know I got better, much better, through Bradshaw and "The Work" (as I described elsewhere). I now still have my flaky edges of course, but consider myself mostly functional most of the time. Which is about as much as I think anyone can reasonably expect in life. Best, Hank
@jimhd Sorry I am writing so much. Jim, ignore anything else I have been writing and just read this. I have a few more thoughts on this post of yours about the history of your depression. When you say " I've long since done the work of forgiving, but in some way, I think that I don't want ever to forget" It's extremely admirable to forgive, no question. But I think you still need to do the Inner Child work a'la Bradshaw. Linda and I were just discussing your post and her take was this. Forgiving those that hurt or abused you is a saintly thing to do. But it still will not touch that deep inner hurt that you carry.
What Linda and I both did back in the late eighties, and found to be effective, was to take time to sit still and get in touch with the little innocent child who we were during the abuse that befell us. We, and you, need to feel the feelings that little child felt during that abuse, and then tell that innocent little thing that it did not deserve this abuse and that it should have been loved and protected and not hurt. In other words, your adult self needs to get in touch with the emotions your child self felt and rescue it from that hurt. And this does not have to be a childhood abuse that you are addressing, it could be any abuse, even when you were a so-called "adult" because that hurt you experienced in those situations was hurt to your inner self, who is essentially a little child throughout your whole life. Down under the facades we build up around ourselves there is always the little child at our core.
It's hard for me to describe it any better than that. I know it worked for both of us and it can work for anyone else. To do it effectively you have to devote a time and place for real quiet, and you have to be able to become raw emotionally. This may mean doing this at the outset of a long weekend for someone who works. Since you are retired Jim that might not pose a problem, if you ever decided to try this.
The thing is, this is science. It's a universally human phenomenon. I hope anyone suffering from abuse to your inner being will give it a try. My wife wants me to add more, she is a great therapist but hates writing, but I will leave that for her to write another time if she ever decides to. Best, Hank
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