Friday, August 21, 2015

One year of lessons.

One year ago today I had my first TMS treatment.  I will say, as any cliche one year anniversary calls for, I can't believe its been a year. 

I feel so thankful to have learned about this treatment and am truly blessed to have amazing doctors at the New England Center for Mental Health. 

Since completing the treatment back in October, I have successfully reduced my medications and can say that my clinical, biological depression has gone into remission. 

That does not mean I am in the clear. My recent work now has been a trauma based therapy, which I have great hope for now that the cloud of depression has dissipated. 

I have learned great things about myself, my disease, and my treatment over this last year. 

I'd like to share the biggest two lessons I have learned. 

     1. Biological depression is a tricky illness. I have come to believe that individuals endowed with biological depression have an amazing set of character and personality traits. Traits, that when you have depression, feel like mistakes. Burdens. Part of the illness itself.  But they are not. That is only half. 

  • emotional sensitivity
  • empathy and understanding
  • introspective
  • observent
  • creativity
they are clouded by depression. This cloud covers half of the spectrum of these traits.
It covers the positive half. 
I've found that without depression, I can finally see the positive half of these traits. 

Before, my emotional sensitivity was essentially all depression. I would respond strongly to everything that was sad. Now I have been responding to things that are happy, and a whole other range of emotions with the same intensity that I previously felt for only depressive emotions. 

Empathy is defined as "the ability to understand and share the feelings of another". Before, this trait was reserved for feeling and understand other people's pain. 
Now i believe in the ability to have the same level of understanding for other people's joy. 

To look inward at my goodness the same way we would look inward at my flaws, or try too much more often. 

To observe greatness in the world with the same frequency that we would observe tragedy. I have been able to observe myself and my emotions as well. 

My message to other depressed people is that  those "Things" about you that make you feel that depression is just the way you are; They are not symptoms. 
They are character traits.
and They are wonderful character traits when you can unlock the other half of them.

2.  Stumbles can be great. 

I've learned that taking a step back, slipping into old habits or reactions, are a wonderful way to gauge progress. 

Previously, depressed me would go X amount of days without a panic attack or a self destructive thought. When day X rolled around and I took that step back, it was a shower of guilt and disappointment. I ruined my progress, said the depressed brain.

Now, when I do have a stumble, I can see it as an opportunity to learn about myself and my progress. 

I know that sounds cheesy, but its 100% true. 
For example, the last panic attack I had happened in front of my new boyfriend, not exactly the ideal moment for anyone with mental illness. 
However, I tired to observe it rather than judged it. 

I noticed it was very brief. About 10 minutes. 

It came to a conclusion without me needing to call my father. 
I came to a conclusion by myself, through talking. 
These were all good things.
And I realized, without this slip up, stumble, or step back, whatever you want to call it, 
I might not have noticed how long its been since I've had a panic attack, or how much shorter it was, or how easy it was to come back down. 
Without it, I might have missed my own progress. 

 A great message to other people struggling with depression is to try to observe yourself. Never judge.  

I was told this so many times over my life, but I feel like it is just recently that I have actually been able to execute that mindfulness. Without judgment we are free to take what we have in any direction.
Just listen.

Anyway, I hope these two lessons might speak some comfort to other people. I know I find comfort and, most of all, optimism, for my future in my treatment.

This is a process that I believe in, and will never give up on. Thank you all for your encouragement during these incredibly taxing few years.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Libby for your deep insights. I am so proud of you. Love you always.