Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Crashing Waves Overboard
I guess it’s trite to point out that we all handle stress, sadness, and disappointment differently. But I never promised I wouldn’t be trite. I’ve had conversations with friends about what depression is like – but I seem to hold back – even with my closest friends. I set my blog up as an anonymous site – and so it is. Anonymous and obscure. Which is good when I decide to take the plunge and be unflinching in my honesty – but tough on the ego. ‘Cause don’t we secretly want A LOT of exposure? Well, that’s really a topic for another day. Today’s topic is how I feel when I’m depressed, how I act/re-act, and what causes the depression. Maybe that’s the wrong order. It should be 1.) What is causing the depression; 2.) How I feel (physically) when depressed; and finally 3.) How I act/re-act. You know, even admitting what is depressing me is difficult. Why? Is it because I expose myself as not in- control, weak, and with flaws and vulnerabilities? YES. Is it because I know compared to so many others I have a wonderful life … and I feel ungrateful for all I have? YES. Is it because I’m afraid I’m the only one who feels this way? Not so much any more. Through the wonderful blog world I have discovered these people. They are unflinchingly honest, funny, real, and warriors in the same battle (See November heading “Withdrawn”.) Okay – enough of the procrastination. Here I go. Why am I depressed? There are layers upon layers of reasons. It’s like geology I think. The most recent stuff that seems to bear down heavily on me now is greatly affected by the strat and fault lines below. I feel like I’m in a ship in a storm. The ship is stable, but the waves under me, rock me violently from one feeling to the extreme opposite of the same feeling. Here’s an example: The good ship “me” climbs up the towering “I don’t think I’m good enough” wave, I’m climbing the ascent, it’s an arduous task to rise above these thoughts. The beginning of the wave, the trough, is when I think I am crap. I can do nothing right, I have no abilities, skills or positive attributes. It is difficult to begin the assent from this trough. As my emotional ship moves towards to top of the top of the wave these feelings lessen. At the top of the wave is balance – emotional balance. Maybe even emotional stability, I don’t know. Much like a ship at the apex of a wave, my experience with emotional stability is fleeting. This narrow point is where I recognize my strengths and weaknesses PROPORTIONALTELY. I do some things well; I’m not talented in others. This is the human condition. It’s nature. Everyone and everything has strong points AND weak points. Smart people maximize and capitalize on their strong points. Me? I over-look my strong points and let my inabilities overwhelm me. This behavior is so strong that the pinnacle of the wave, stability, is fleeting. For me, it’s a quick decent into the waters of, “Why am I not recognized for my intelligence, ability, and skills”? This rapid plunge – just as the ship rapidly slides down the crest of a wave – and often with a violent shudder, is equivalent to my reaction when someone points out – or EXPLOITS a weakness of mine. My over-reactions are equivalent to the shockwaves and shudders of the ship. Of course there’s a reason for the ship to descend back towards the trough. In wave-theory, it’s because the ocean floor is on an incline or syncline. But definitely not LEVEL. The body of water at the top is moving faster than at the bottom. (Maybe I’ll find a diagram of this). The structure isn’t stable so the top crumples inwardly, and the ship slides down the other side of the wave toward the trough. What propels me to begin the ascent again? It’s one thing, really. People telling me I can’t do something – more exactly it’s people discounting me. How wacky is this? It’s okay for me to say I’m nothing and have no abilities. But someone else? HOW DARE THEY? WHO ARE THEY TO JUDGE ME? I guess an old-fashioned expression is, “It gets my gander up”. And I must prove to them I am smart, capable, and intelligent. And so I begin my battle. Fighting to prove I AM SMART. I AM SMARTER THAN YOU. I CAN DO THIS. NOT ONLY CAN I DO THIS? I CAN DO IT BETTER THAN YOU! Are you tired reading this? I can see all the wasted emotion and energy when I write this. I can see this cycle is self-perpetuating – and damaging. But much like I can’t level the ocean floor – nor stop the wind from blowing, I can’t seem to stop this roller-coaster of a ride. So that’s the theory and analogy of my depression. The topography of my ocean floor is my learned/taught responses to certain things. But I haven’t told you WHAT I’m depressed about. What wind is blowing up these waves of response? Work and family signify the winds in my life. Do you wonder at the order I place these two things in? Do “healthy” people place work first? I place work first because it’s where I focus most of my energy, time, and self-worth. I also believe since I am single and childless (of my own choice, no crying over spilled milk here) – it’s appropriate, okay, healthy even, that I place work first. I love what I do. I excel at what I do. I instruct, demonstrate, and discourse. I analyze the market we conduct our business in, plan for our future, and design strategies to meet that future. I LOVE MY JOB. I have a huge territory. In the last five years I’ve been responsible for a area that includes California, Arizona, Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and the pan-handle of Florida. I LOVE the travel to these places. Even if most of my clients are in small rural towns. Many people don’t like to travel for business. And certainly not for three weeks at a time, but it suits me. If this is all true, then why is this job one of the winds that drive me to depression? Because of the PEOPLE! Not the people I work with, my clients. It’s the people I work FOR and with IN THE OFFICE. The management – oh the list of their shortcomings is long, but probably not discussed here. My co-workers? So not capable, motivated, or suited to the work we do. *sigh* And me? Well I’m perfect! Okay, obviously not. I am frustrated, angry, strident, impatient, and insensitive. The other side of this wave? I don’t feel secure in my knowledge. I don’t understand everything, and I can’t solve all the problems on my own. I don’t know how to play nice with my co-workers – and many times, I DON’T EVEN CARE. The obvious outcome of this is I’m not very popular with my collegues. I don’t know how to INPIRE my co-workers. To make them care, do their best, learn more, and meet the challenges our customers present us. Toxic work environment anyone? It’s the root of my occupational depression.