Monday 9 January 2012

"Getting Ahead By Giving Up"

"Getting Ahead By Giving Up."  Um, what? That doesn't sound right, does it?

If you have been following my blog you are probably confused. You might be thinking, but Kristin, you have been telling us not to give up hope, to take an active role in fighting this illness and getting well. Yes, you are right. But that's also what I am telling you when I say that sometimes you need to give up.

The title of this post is also the title of a chapter in the book Your Depression Map by Randy J. Paterson, Ph.D. It also sums up a defining lesson in my 20+ year journey through mental illness. Sometimes in life you need to just throw your hands in the air and say, I give up. I surrender. I accept.

Today at work I was chatting with a favourite work-mate. We both have a passion for the arts and often talk about our latest artistic & creative endeavours. This time the conversation took a turn towards the topic of depression and my blog. She shared with me the struggles that her husband faced in his own past experience with depression. She said that what was frustrating for her, and him as well, was that he couldn't accept it. Although ill, he still tried to do it all - everything that he had done when he was healthy. He felt guilty that he was depressed. He felt guilty that he couldn't make it to work or to that social event. Me too! And also almost everyone else who has ever suffered from this illness.

Well, here are a few truths. Guilt is a huge part of depression. In fact, it's a very common symptom. It's difficult to let go of and it almost always makes you feel worse. And here's another key fact: acceptance is elusive. Those of us who suffer from a depressive episode almost always want our old lives back. I would often say to myself, my journal, or my mom, "I just want to be me again. I just want my old life back." What's that saying? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So maybe your old life isn't what you should hope for. Maybe you should hope for something better, a new and improved life, "Me 2.0".

So here's where surrender comes in. It wasn't until I figuratively threw in the towel that I was able to start the healing process. Oh, but I fought it! I didn't want to give in to the demons and I denied that I was as sick as I was. I would lie to my mom about what kind of a day I was having. I would tell myself that I was just tired and I would feel better after a nap (yeah right - a three and a half hour nap?!).

But you can only delay the inevitable for so long. Once I accepted that I was suffering another major depressive episode I was able to move forward, to get ahead. I accepted that I needed to go on short term disability leave from work. I accepted that I needed not just my family doctor but also the care of a psychiatrist. I accepted that my parents were worried about me and that was OK. I accepted that I needed to make my days simple - to sleep when I needed to sleep, to eat when I needed to eat, and to allow time to heal. And I did just that.

The healing process and the road back to well being was a long, arduous one for me - it took months. But I can't imagine where I would be now if I hadn't given up. Today I think I am a better version of myself. Remember that there are times in life when we need to surrender, when we need to wave the white flag. Sometimes you need to accept where you are and give up. Sometimes it's the only way to get ahead.

KB xo

1 comment:

  1. I could read this post 5 times. Aren't we all just working on a new version of Me 2.0?Your are a wonderfully articulate and wise soul. Thnx for sharing.


"Eating Disorders: What Are We Truly Hungry For?"

    For two years in my 30's I had an eating disorder: bulimia. It took me ten years to admit that to anyone, even my doctor. I f...