Originally posted in The Haven
Depression is an insidious illness, often springing forth from the ether to attack without hesitation or provocation. Most disheartening, some ignorant louses would degrade and demean those who suffer from it, claiming it's all in our heads. Ironically, their condemnation has some stern truth to it. Of course, just because it has no physical representation and isn’t some toxin or disease that can be studied under a microscope, doesn’t make it any less foreboding or real.
Whether you subscribe to the idea that the affliction is due to a chemical imbalance, a hereditary proclivity towards the condition, or is the result of instinctive reaction to overwhelming trauma, the fact is that, aside from the physical symptoms that identify a victim, the battle takes place in our own minds. And this is a monumental blessing in disguise, because it means that we, the supposedly helpless weaklings, are in complete control, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
We’ve all done battle with and subdued our own demons in various personal skirmishes. For awhile, it felt as if I was eternally locked in a war of attrition with enemy forces sprouting forth from my own damaged psyche. Events I’d undergone and actions I’d been forced and required by necessity to complete. I dreaded being alone at night, because, exposed and vulnerable in my comfort, they would come for me.
Constantly on guard and fists forever raised, I stalked the streets and corridors of wherever San Diego. Never once did I consider suicide, but the incessant loudspeaker in my brain intermingled with my own anxious thoughts to form a cacophony of chaotic unrest and incapacitating despair. My steadfast refusal to take medication that would only serve to sedate and zombify me prolonged the arduousness of my predicament. Exhausted but undeterred, I turned to books and exercise, and, although the revelations I underwent are hardly groundbreaking or novel, they were personally significant and world-shattering in the enlightenment they bestowed.
Thoughts create emotions, and from emotions, actions spring forth. A natural, intrinsic cycle that almost everyone is blissfully unaware of. But not in our Haven. Don’t misunderstand me. If you are dealing with something crippling right now, go speak to a therapist, and, if you feel the need to, take the prescribed pills that they give you. For me, the decision to abstain from drugs was a deeply personal one, but my choices need not dictate yours. Still, this revelation, gleaned from Mastering Your Hidden Self by Serge Kahili King, was intoxicatingly freeing, and served as the bedrock of my recovery.
My destructive thoughts were neutralized quickly, as this model, combined with positive self-talk and written self-counseling, along with a healthy dose of prayer and the love of a young woman I never deserved enabled me to recover relatively quickly. I don’t claim to know your issues, although, within the safety of our Haven, I encourage you to share them with us so that we may help. This is the foundation our group is based on. It's not weakness to feel pain or require assistance and love from your Brothers and Sisters, and it's not strong, nor courageous to shoulder your burden silently, deteriorating sullenly in self-imposed isolation.
As essential as the mental aspect of your fight with depression is, it is imperative that you also adhere to a program of physical activity. Emotions have the word motion in them for a specific reason. The human body was not meant to stagnate, to remain frozen and statuesque for prolonged periods of unerring time. You crave athleticism and the straining of muscle against weight, gravity and the excruciating simmering of lactic acid frying in the bellies of your limbs.
As always, your choice in physical endeavors is a highly personal one. I combined calisthenics, weightlifting, and long, contemplative walks into an effective regiment that assisted me in combatting the perpetual nauseous feelings I harbored. To no great surprise, I discovered that all of the self-examination and rumination I availed myself of, while indispensable regarding dismantling and eventually banishing my poisonous, OCD laden thoughts, were rendered miniscule when it came to general wellness and calming the burdensome heaviness occupying my stomach. When contrasted with how I felt after a jaunt through a crowded city square lively with cosmopolitan fervor or a run down a stretch of gorgeous, secluded beach, my issues melting away with the departing tide, the contrast was so apparent a blind man could ascertain it.
Lastly, and what I would consider the difference between expeditious recovery and a gradual return to normalcy, is companionship. Caught in a deathless engagement with my own malicious ghosts, I was little more than a reanimated corpse shuffling amongst the living. I was petrified at the possibility of being alone yet could hardly stand the company of others. I had become a waking aberration of what I once was, a wraith consumed with my own curse. Then, I met a girl, the way it all starts, innocently enough. From the moment she entered my sphere, the voices were silenced and my calamity was assuaged. She supported me and kept me mindful, our love blessing me and keeping me sturdy in the face of uncertainty. I may be waxing poetic, but the truth of the moment and force of the point is captured in these words. No man is an island, and if you’re drowning in the dark waters of your own dilapidation, then an Angel’s hand may be what’s needed to pull you clear of the murk.
This was quite the intimate piece to pen, but I’d do it all again. These experiences are a driving force behind the founding of this group, as I have no desire to see anyone suffer in muteness. To be under siege by your own head is a dastardly, terrifying thing. If anyone is currently persevering through such harrowing circumstances, I implore you to seek professional help, and to confide in our Haven. I long to see this organization used for its intended purpose. I’ve talked friends out of suicide before, and saw them through recovery. We’re here for you.
Best regards Haven.