This self-therapy blog isn’t just about depression, eliminating alcohol and sharing my emotions, actions, and personal details here. The past six months have been a healing process in many ways. If I want to live a happy life, I need to heal from the things that made me feel icky; and for now, I don’t want to let in anyone new. I am perfectly happy with my decision, because I know it’s right for me. By distancing myself from people and their influences, I am truly getting to know myself more. And this has resulted in wanting to be alone.
At the end of April, I posted ‘Depression Creeps Back.’ Around that time, I ran out of probiotics and bought some I never tried from Walmart. Until I purchased a different brand a month ago, I didn’t realize a waste of money the one I purchased from Walmart was. Within three days, I felt like a different person altogether – happier and more energetic. I have written about this before, and I truly believe the right probiotics are an enormous influence that fights depression. How something simple and natural can alleviate debilitating symptoms needs to be studied and practiced more. There are studies about depression starting in the gut, but it doesn’t seem like it’s actually being used in the medical community. I also feel that the higher my sugar intake, the better chances of depression coming back or staying. Add alcohol to that mix, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
If I could explain depression in measurements, imagine a heart monitor line. I’ll call it a “mood line.” Above the flatline, the mood line is levels of happiness and joy; below the flatline, the mood line is levels of depression. When it’s at flatline, I feel neutral – not sad or joyful – but content. Coming out from below the flatline, being content is enough to make me feel satisfied – because below it is a depth of hell. Sometimes contentedness is mistaken for happiness, because depression sucks so badly. Another way of describing depression: You have the flu and feel horrible, but by the third day you’re feeling better. You’re not 100% but compared to the last two days, you’ll take what you can get. Contentedness is that third day.
Physically, my body also feels depressed when my mood is depressed. This also makes me wonder more about fighting depression starting with the gut instead of with the brain. For me, depression in the body feels like this: A really terrible hangover in which you cannot get out of bed when you are over age 40. (I use this age, because this is when many people discover they cannot drink they way they used to.)
When I catch myself singing, I know my mood has lifted above the flatline. Since taking the new probiotics, my mood has lifted – and more importantly – has continued to stay lifted more days than not. I catch myself singing and smiling, joking, and feeling a lot more normal and like myself than in the past several years, even when I’m tired or not feeling well. It’s a natural feeling that I had forgotten. A certain amount of alcohol used to make me feel that way, but it wasn’t the same. I don’t know how to describe it, but the alcohol-induced joy was more like a heavy happiness. Now my mood feels normal, natural, and healthy. As I am writing this on June 30, 2021, I feel slightly above content (I’m tired and in pain, however). With exercise, I can probably continue to elevate my mood.
This brings to me joy, something with which I have a strange relationship — and I don’t trust. Feeling much like a drug, it’s a rare emotion that doesn’t last. When I think back to anytime I felt joy in the past several years, most of those times I was drinking. I don’t know if it was genuine joy or not, because I don’t trust emotions with alcohol involved. Other times I do not trust it, because of the fake people in my life. Is it really joy if someone is tricking you? I also feel that joy brings consequences – because what goes up must come down. Maybe it was learned from childhood, but I know with joy comes something awful right afterwards. So being content is often safer than feeling joyful for someone with depression.
Anxiety is another story. I can manage it very well if I stay away from crowds, traffic, man-made noise, social media, and certain people. (Why do I get the feeling others that suffer from anxiety relate to this?) With age, my tolerance for those things has lessened. All I want is peace and quiet, stability, left alone to live my life, and enjoy whatever time I have left. Exercise helps a lot with anxiety, and so does working on projects; I must keep my mind occupied.
Within the past six months, I hurt myself by twisting while lifting my recycling bin, and I’ve been in pain since. My ribs visibly stick out on one side, stabbing into my lung. I find it difficult getting comfortable at all, days or hours at a time. Some days are better than others, but it has affected my sleep and my mood. When I get a little relief, I feel like a different person.
While I thought I was done healing from surgery from nearly two years ago, it required physical therapy that was put off because of the pandemic. (My twisting injury probably worsened this.) Complications have arisen, and thankfully, the VA covers my medical. Without it, I would probably be suicidal, because the issues are ones I refuse to live with lifetime. Because of this, I am physically limited, as my strength and endurance are low. This is an issue, because there are some things I can’t do for myself — like lift my kayak, so I haven’t been going.
Last, but not least, I am healing my heart — the same one that never fully healed years ago — and kept getting beat up while wounded. On this journey, I am learning to love myself for the very first time. I didn’t even know what loving myself really meant until I was an adult, because I grew up being told I’m not supposed to.
Writing about my relationships here has helped organize my thoughts. Yet, while knowing things or people weren’t good for me, I still allowed them into my life. Many things swept under the rug or drowned in alcohol. I was busy hating myself for my poor choices in men, career choices, feeling invaluable and used in both areas. And that’s only part of why I hated myself. I had zero validation in my life. I get angry at myself for being a nobody, for having no purpose, and feeling useless. I get angry at myself for being stupid and weak, for being a failure at everything, for being underpaid, for not living in a nicer place, for never having stability, for not being where I thought I should be in life – and I often feel like everything I worked for has gone to dust.
Anger turned inward = depression, and the vicious cycle goes ‘round and ‘round.
Your description of anxiety and depression are spot on. Well written.
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