Skipping through a few of my posts since I started blogging again and gah! – what a negative stench! Apparently this is what happens when you think you’re good at healing from events that turn your world on its head. Just because you managed to survive one massive overhaul doesn’t mean you’ll skate through the next one. In fact, I’m pretty well convinced that I would have made it through this one better if I hadn’t had the first one.
Short story: I was married at 22 and thought my husband and I would be together forever. I imagined growing old with him, raising kids, hosting Christmas for grandkids and great-grandkids. It’s was all there. Then my world spun on its ear and I discovered that he had managed to lie to me for nearly a year about… something I divorced him for. I was 25. I spent the summer after we split to recuperate at an apple ranch in Washington state. I walked a lot. I wrote a lot. I cried a lot. After four months all that was left to do was wait for time to distance me from what had happened.
That was five years ago, and it was the most pain I had ever felt. Compared to that, the last couple years of turmoil should have been a walk in the park. My tolerance for life being unexpected should have barely been touched, but that’s not how emotional pain tolerance works. Each successive hit brings back the memory of the pain you suffered before. You may have healed from those experiences; you may have even forgiven the people involved, but the depth of pain you endured leaves a scar at the bottom of your heart after it dug its way in. You can’t go back to feeling things at a more shallow level, especially if they bear any resemblance to the events that wreaked havoc on your life before. If it was deceit, then deceit will cut you deeper. If it was betrayal, then the scent of betrayal will burn your senses.
People who tell you that you need to forgive and forget should be expelled from your circle of advisers at this point, by the way. You’re not actually bringing up the past. You’re over the past. You’ve moved on. You’re just changed now. You can’t process events the same way you did before. Everything goes through the filter of your experiences. You may be completely healed from what’s happened, but your emotional memory, like muscle memory, just can’t help itself.
You cry more easily and you eat comfort foods more often because your physiology has grown accustomed to seeking out the endorphins and serotonin and that are released when you cry and eat carbs. You feel like a basket case, because your body is giving you signals to reach out for things that will make it feel better.
So your emotional memory is on autopilot and you’re heading down a long path of regret all because of what…? An event that, in the grand scheme of life, doesn’t really affect you as much as you think it does. You’re disappointed with how things have turned out, but you’re over-thinking it. You’re taking it too hard. And you’re actually blaming other people for the fact that you’ve now gained 45 pounds and you’re a depressed train wreck.
Okay, so there’s really no use in chastising your inability to cope. What do you do now? How do you dig your heels in and refuse to keep sliding down this slippery slope of negativity and self-absorption. [Huh – Maybe starting a blog and venting wasn’t the best step.] So what do I do now? How does someone with a proven track record of inconsistency start to turn their life around? Just become a consistent, driven, disciplined person? And then fly to the moon while I’m at it; skip over to mars and setup a colony before I head back to earth to smack whatever insensitive idiot gave me that advice then figure out a real solution.
My naturopath has actually given me more hope and direction through this than anyone. He told me there are actually new studies that show there’s a particular gene responsible for supporting the brain’s natural ability to make serotonin. In many people with depression, this gene is either damaged or completely missing. It’s like those people don’t even have a chance! He cited an Ivy League school on that research, but I don’t remember which one. I’ll have to get some literature from him on that.
In any case, he’s the first one that held out some hope that I might be able to take care of myself without taking a fistful of antidepressants and side-effect-balancing drugs. I may be able to just take a certain kind of folic acid to give my brain the building blocks it needs to make happy-brain chemicals. I don’t know what kind yet. I have another appointment in January. He wants to test my neurotransmitter levels first to confirm whether his genetic theory proves as true in me as it has in others he’s treated naturally for depression. From family history, I’m the fourth generation to have struggled with depression, so we’re both fairly confident that my genes aren’t helping my coping ability very much. I may have to take this folic acid supplement forever if he turns out to be right, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than antidepressants, and it won’t mess with the rest of me like western meds do.
I’m sure I’ll post an update when I discover more, but that’s where I am on my depression-treatment journey. Happy new year, everyone!