Wednesday, November 30, 2005

After The Exodus...A Five Part Series On Grief Management... Part Three: Depression

"Depression is nourished by a lifetime of ungrieved an unforgiven hurts."

-Penelope Sweet

After The Exodus...A Five Part Series On Grief Management

Part Three: Depression

Depression knows no boundaries. It doesn't discriminate. It knows no age, religion, social class, gender, geographical location, income status, creativity. Depression is a condition shared by more then 14 million people or about 7 percent of the population. About 2.5 percent of the children in America suffer from Depression. Children who suffer from Depression are more likely to come from a family with a history of depression. 8.5 percent of American adolescents have depression. Depression afflicts about 6 million elderly adult Americans. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 18-25 year olds. Suicide is the 5th leading cause of death for children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old. Yes, between the ages of 5 and 14 years old!

Depression should never be taken for granted, particularly when one is grieving. Depression usually begins to manifest for the grieving person in the Anger stage of grief. Depression is a normal reaction to a sudden loss, but not for a prolonged period of time. So, what's a prolonged period of time? Well, as I have said before, the grief process is a very personal and individual thing and there is no specific timetable, but the advice I was given by a wonderful therapist who I trust completely, says that any prolonged period ( two weeks or more ) should be discussed with a qualified mental health professional. Speaking as a person who has dealt with the monster of Depression, and learned how to control it, I know that to be correct.

The last two weeks have been a time of many emotions. Sadness, disappointment, Anger, fear, shock, loneliness, frustration, and a host of others. There has been very little to feel good about. Sometimes even the personal choices we have had to make have come under fire...from both sides. Sometimes it has seemed that one could really do no right in this circumstance. Personally, I chose to leave my AOL journal behind and start anew. I gave all those who know me the benefit of the doubt that they knew me well enough to know that I wasn't leaving them behind, but indeed I was going to make a space for them come and visit me that I could be proud of, based on my own personal values and creativity. It never once occurred to me that anyone would give me so little credit as to think I would leave anyone behind. I love the people I have come to know as friends. Why would I leave anyone behind if I could possibly help it? Now, you don't have to answer my next question if you don't want to, but, as you sit here reading this entry, did it cross your mind that I might?

In truth...after I made up my mind to move, it may have crossed my mind for a moment as well. Like the first day I started Ellipsis, 2 years ago, I wondered if anyone would be able to find me. I wondered if my creativity would somehow change. I worried that maybe, somehow I wouldn't be...Ellipsis anymore. Nah! I am afraid I am just me no matter where I am. LOL. This leopard doesn't change her spots good or bad. Still, there is sadness that remains from this sudden and invasive event.

There is a very HUMAN thing to do in times of grief, and psychological trauma, that is to allow insecurities to sometimes whisper in our ears. Like a little pixie sitting on our shoulders, insecurity tells us that we are worthless, that our friends don't really care, that you can be left behind, that nothing we do is right. That we are a burden. Sometimes insecurity will speak both to our Depression and our Anger. Wow! What a combination! Ok, great, so now on top of feeling sad and lost in whatever situation that brings on our grief...we have the added burden of insecurity feeding the two most dangerous stages of grief. Anger and Depression. It all gets to be too much and in our Anger and Depression sometimes we act out.

Sometimes we say and do things we don't really mean. Sometimes we close ourselves off to our friends and family, sometimes we look to hurt others so that we won't feel alone in our sadness and frustrations. Trust happens. When the Depression eventually subsides what is left is damaged relationships which may or may not be able to be repaired. Scars from words that can't be taken back and often times the person we attack will feel like they can never trust us again. Words in my opinion should be declared true weapons of mass destruction. Words cause scars so deep that years later they still hurt, long after a physical scar heals. Words spoken in Anger and Depression can last a lifetime.

They don't have to. I urge everyone who reads this entry, even if you aren't Angry or Depressed right now, to consider what I am saying. Give yourself 5 minutes before answering a slight sent your way. Try looking beyond your own pain and into compassion for the one doing the slight. Are they in pain? Is there realistically anything you can do to help them? Do they need some quiet understanding? Do they need someone to help them feel secure. In life we have all been let down at some point, and we have all let someone down. We know what both sides of that fence feels like.The other thing about this practice of quiet consideration is that it will get your mind off your sadness and into a place of honest care for someone else. The quickest way to healing from Depression is to step outside of it and into the world.

1. Ask at least 3 people if you can do anything to lift their spirits.

2. Do something just for you like a long walk, a warm soothing bath, or a creative pursuit.

3. Practice sleep hygiene and nurtitional balance.

4. Remember to give others the benefit of the doubt.

5. In times of sadness try to remember to treat others the way you want to be treated. The Golden Rule really does work!

6. Remember that nothing lasts forever if we don't want it to. Grudges don't have to exist.

7. If we are sad that someone has left our life, tell them in a nonconfrontational way...chances are they haven't left us, we just need to feel secure.

8. Seek the advice of a mental healthcare professional, clergy or physician if symptoms last longer then 2 weeks.

9. Consider joining a support group or a network of friends who share your sadness. Share ideas on what can be done to find the positive in your situation. Hearing others speak of their experiences not only helps us feel less alone, but by providing support to others we get to feel good about lifting someone up into the light. It's good to raise your own self-esteem and be aware we are needed, valued and not worthless.

10. Remember in times when we want to lash out that it is NEVER ok to tear someone else down in order to lift ourselves up. That will be the hollowest of victories that in the end will leave us feeling sad.

Forgiveness is a necessary part of healing. It is also a process. You can make up your own mind that you need to forgive, but it isn't easy and needs to be taken seriously and with care for all people involved. Don't try to forgive too soon in your grief process. You have to experience the feelings that are human and natural like Anger and Depression, but don't decided it could never be fixed. Never is a very long time and if we wait too long...we may never get that second chance. Crying is normal and tears are healing. Let yourself cry when you feel like it. I don't claim to know how to cure Depression, I do know that some of the ideas I suggest have absolutely worked for me. Once diagnosed with Clinical Depression, I felt like there would never be a sunny day again, but I also decided that that to live in life I had to be the one to look for the light. It's work...but it is the most profoundly important work I have ever done. I owed it to me and so do you!

NOTE: I want to remind you I am not a mental healthcare professional. I offer this series as a peer to peer suggestion only, based on my own experiences. Please contact a qualified therapist, member of the clergy or your family physician for long term advice and care.

"The Flower Of Depression"
Berkeley, California
November 30th, 2005


Karen Funk Blocher said...

This is your best yet, Carly. Boy, does this stuff ever resonate with me! I wouldn't have thought to connect depression with insecurities and misunderstandings, but they really are related, aren't they?

who is going to bed now. :)

Phinney said...

Carly, darlin'

Thanks for all of your wonderful insight. You are a gem, and I am sure you are helping more people than you will ever realize. I loves ya! I've restarted my Blogspot blog, going to take it slow and learn when I have time.
It's pretty - it's PINK! =)

thanks for visiting my journals and seeing my latest photo creations!! i'm glad you enjoyed them. snow is gone for now, (the last couple days were in the 60's!) so you'll need to wait for another storm to see more! today i went to a pond and saw some lovely geese! photos later, after i scrape all the geese doody off my sneakers! lol. love, phinney xo

V said...

It`s flowing well! Keep up the good work.

Barb said...

Another awesome entry. So much wisdom is contained here; information, that if used, will help make coping with depression easier. Thanks!

sunflowerkat said...

Wow Carly...
I have had my go arounds with depression...the first, right after my dad died. I don't know if I ever came back completely and of course now it has been refueled. But, I have never thought about it with this type of depth. You give us a LOT to think about!

sunflowerkat said...


I LOVE what you're doing with the colors of this tulip image on each entry. It's awesome.

MariesImages said...

Thanks for sharing this...been dealing with depression for many years & anxiety attacks which did subside but has returned. The only people the understand depression & anxiety are the ones that experience it first hand.
Is there a way of getting alerts when you post an entry?

Gannet Girl said...

This is a beautiful entry (and so, of course, is the photo). Thanks for coming by. I'm starting to get out a bit now, and I'll go back and read this and your others in more depth later.

V said...

This was really well done.
I really liked your presentation about the whispers.It is the whispers, those circular negative thoughts that have no answer, that cause chronic depression.

I hope when I type the letters in, this will save.