Thursday, March 31, 2011

One Word 2011.3

I suffer from depression.

Welcome to a no-holds-barred blog post. This one gets a little frank and honest. So, if you prefer to stay blissfully ignorant and keep our relationship as writer-reader at a surface level, no hard feelings. There are some lovely photos of cats asking for cheeseburgers on the Internet that you can go look at.

Also, this is not a "pro-man" post that should be read while sitting in a man cave, eating raw steak, listening to power rock just before going outside to till an entire acre by hand after rebuilding a car engine. This is simply about a person, regardless of their gender, who suffered and lost part of their identity and still is trying to find that missing person.

About a decade ago, I started seeing a therapist. This was somewhat ironic since, at the time, I was in graduate school, working on a Master's Degree based in Counseling. However, I was also going through very dark period in my life, wrestling with not only the demons of my past but also the monkeys which had firmly entrenched themselves on my back in the here-and-now. Not to oversimplify or cheapen either the experiences and breakthroughs I had while seeing a therapist or in my classes, but the cliche of how issues in our present are somehow rooted in our past is oh-so-painfully true.

One of the things I discovered (okay: actually just finally admitted out loud and to myself) was that I was very, very insecure - in my identity, in my strengths, in my sense of self-worth, in my abilities, etc. A great deal of these insecurities stemmed from how I still physically saw myself in my childhood (curse you, husky section of boys' clothes at JC Penney's!) and awkward teenage years, and they played out in my romantic relationships. I know that time and again women are taught, extolled, and admonished against finding a man and placing their identity and their everything in him, but what happens to the guys who wind up doing just that?

We lose ourselves. We trade in our loaf of bread for a scorpion.

One specific relationship I was in while in college, wherein which I invested the totality of me to the point of losing myself, broke me like none other had before when it ended. And this person spoke words to my heart - and I truly believe not with the malicious intent to poison me for decades - that still echoed in my soul long after she was no longer in my life. Only about six years ago did I start to stop listening to them (funny how they had continued on in my heart & mind using MY voice and not hers), and while today they no longer cut and wound me as they once did, the scar tissue is still there.

But because I did listen to her words, I began to fall deeper into depression.

At the behest of my therapist at the time, I started taking an anti-depressant. As anyone who has ever taken an anti-depressant can attest, the majority of the time that you are prescribed one, you (a) go through a variety of them, trying to find the one which best syncs up with your body chemistry, and (b) you don't take them all day, every day, for the rest of your life. They're there primarily to assist with the working through of issues, and nine times out of ten, once you know the name of what it is you're trying to deal with, you know how to fight it.

Enter my One Word for this year.

Shalam.

One of the multiple definitions of this Hebrew word is "secure." Secure can be defined as: to be free from the danger of theft; to be free from anxiety or doubt; and firm, not likely to fall.

"To be free from."

Words spoken to me. Words which I gave power to long after the original author stopped saying them. Words which I used to define myself - to give myself a name, if you will - and thereby grant them power over me.

But now that I know that name, I know how to deal with it. This doesn't mean that I am good at dealing with it, or even that I deal with it effectively all the time. But I have the choice: to chose one author over another Author. One writes life; the other, destruction.

I can choose to be secure and free from the danger of being robbed of my faith in my own talents. I can choose to be secure that the calling, dream, or whatever I choose to define it as should not lead me to doubt my own abilities, especially when others have and continue to express faith in me.

It's ultimately kinda about name calling.

And which name I hear calling me that I will answer to.

6 comments:

Jonathan Pearson said...

I spent my fair share of time in the husky section of JC Penny too. Thanks for being open and honest here.

Lala Jackson said...

Thanks for sharing Sonny. I'm right there with you :)

faithfulrealist said...

Look at the sum of your life and the man you are now. I understand all to well what it feels like to hold on to the sins, the names, the transgressions, and just the simple pain of your past. At some point there is a rebirth, a moving on, and understanding that I am not defined by my past but forged by it. You are a great man Sonny. I think you have a number of things in your life that reflect that. Thanks for sharing.

Lindsay said...

Wow, can I ever relate to this post. I took antidepressants for a few years, starting when I lived in Columbus with Ashley, and ending right before Brian and I got married. I've never been the same in so many ways since that point, some good and some bad. It has taken me years to work through the issues and reach a point of security and to learn how to deal with what I now realize is crippling anxiety. I'm still reaching and still learning, even though I have come such a long way. I thought back then that it was "just the way I was supposed to be" until I realized that I ultimately did have a choice. Thank you for being so open and honest here, Sonny. You certainly are not alone!

alece said...

thank you for your bare-bones honesty about depression.

"to be free from"... so so powerful.

Nicole said...

such a great post. You make depression not a disease of the unkempt and ill, but of each of us...when we decide to move into a deeper place. (and leave the cats and cheeseburgers behind.) Thanks for your post, beautifully written and brave. And I love the word....