So you met my first shrink in my last post. Now you know I’m gay. I know what you’re thinking. She’s depressed AND GAY?!!! Gees.
Relax. Let’s talk about it.
I was never a fan of labels. There’s so much more than what the eye can see. I feel like people are shamed into categories because of labels. They’re like ASSumptions sometimes. We all know what they can make out of you and me.
People can be so quick to judge. I admit, I’m guilty. I’ve labeled people before for foolish reasons. I thought I was justified simply because that’s what I thought. If I was thinking it than it must’ve been true. When that happens, a label becomes what you think you know about someone. It can prevent people from actually seeing the good that exists. You are creating what’s in the box before you even open it. I’ve learned not to turn my thoughts into judgments, but rather curiosity. My mindset now is, “What more can I learn?”
I’ve always been proud of who I am. I've never felt ashamed to tell people I was gay. No one has treated me poorly because of who I love. Sometimes I’m nervous, but mostly because I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable. Even then however, it’s much easier for me to say, “Meh, fuck it. They’ll deal with it how they want to.”
When I talk about depression and anxiety it’s different. I don’t always feel proud. I’ve been mistreated because of it: people have assumed the worst in me. I can accept when there’s a misunderstanding. For example, you just don’t know enough about mental illness because it never came into your life, for whatever reason. I get that. But when someone you love is affected by something, let’s say a mental illness, wouldn’t you want to at least try to understand? We don’t need to be professionals. We just need to be compassionate. You may never understand something, but it doesn’t give people the right to decide what kind of person you are. It doesn’t give them the right to label you.
I try to treat others how I want to be treated. I’m human and I know I miss a beat at times, but I practice what I preach. Even when I don’t get it right I try my best to learn from it. While I’m not proud of my mental illness, I’m proud of my courage. I’m proud of what it inspires me to do. I’d like to think those are ingredients to my person. Me.
Whatever you’re made of, I bet you’re wonderful.
See you next week as I introduce you to the love of my life.
This lady changed my life. I hope she knows that.
After a year of counseling, it was one session in particular that paved the way for me. It was toward the end of that year. She told me she had had a previous relationship with a woman. This gets us into another topic that I'll discuss in my next post, but let's move on.
You see, I was not out yet. Like gay out. I wasn't out to the world, just a few peeps. Her willingness to share a private time in her life gave me hope. After that session I went back home, ran for an hour down some country roads, and met a deer.
This may seem strange to you, but nature resonates with me. I connect with it. You could say it’s my religion. It guides me. Seeing that deer run across the road, right in front of me, was another sign of hope. I felt a sudden energy I’d never felt before. It has never repeated itself, and I’m okay if it never does because I feel it was only meant for that moment. I smiled. I felt a release of...doom and failure. It may not seem like the most miraculous thing to you, but I literally sprinted all the way home. It was over a mile that I sustained a sprinting pace. Things seemed to be heading in the right direction. I felt magnificent.
They say it gets worse before it gets better. My life in general has been full of incredible moments. I'm not forgetting those. In terms of my mental illness however, it would be nine years later that I'd feel magnificent again.
Stay tuned for next week as I rant and rave about unfortunate labels and assumptions.
After failing to escape my depression and anxiety, I felt hopeless. I knew that driving away from it wasn’t going to solve the problem. I made it bigger. Keep in mind that I can say this now, nine years later, because I’ve learned how to take better care of myself. However, the priority then was running away.
I spent a lot of time in a false-thinking mode. It followed me everywhere! I could not kick it no matter what I did. Eventually I was spending a lot of time sleeping, as I quickly became severely depressed. After witnessing my down spiral, a dear friend sat me down and suggested I get help. She even went with me to my first appointment. I was so relieved and grateful. Her kindness and compassion were the driving factors to me getting help. I would’ve continued to just sit in the mud. I couldn’t figure out what I needed to do. Thank God she was there.
I started seeing a psychologist for the first time in my life and that continued for a year. After quitting my job at Notre Dame and still being welcomed back, I took a medical leave of absence. I spent several months out of work and was well taken care of by the University. Still, many of my former colleagues never knew what I was going through. I took a lot of slack for not being at work. I was regarded as being lazy and noncommittal. I always heard people saying things under their breath. That was so hard for me. It was the first time in my life that others made me feel so worthless. I was close to a few of them and they never lost confidence in me. They are still in my life.
In addition to the psychologist, I also got a dog. Everyone in my life knows Sophie. You guys sure have shown her lots of love over the years and for that I am so grateful. She was the reason I got out of bed that year. You’d think having a dog, especially a puppy, would be the last thing I’d need, but it was the one thing I was able to take care of. Even as I continue living with depression and anxiety my dogs are a saving grace. During my first year of therapy, I was in some very dark places. Sophie literally saved my life.
She is nine years old now and continues to provide comfort to me when I’m going through hard times. My anxiety has already begun preparing me for her last day on Earth. I am not looking forward to that moment, but I will do everything in my power to make sure she knows how much she has impacted my life. I will be there with her through her hard times as well. For now however, Sophie is staying right here by my side.
Stay tuned next week as I share my first and only Aha moment with depression.
I just want all people to learn and grow together.