I have suffered from clinical depression for a long time. I was diagnosed with it when I was 19, feeling totally alone and having vague suicidal thoughts, but I think I had probably suffered depression since I was at least 11 (I spent most of my sixth grade year with no real friends to speak of) if not earlier.
I don't really know how to help people who don't suffer chronic depression or any other mental health ailment to understand exactly what it is like to live with clinical depression. That may be for the best because the truth is it sucks. It really sucks. Even if a person has never been truly depressed before maybe they have felt very sad or scared or angry to the point that it is paralyzing. If not try to imagine feeling an emotion that is so strong and so painful to feel that it could paralyze you, or make it difficult for you to think clearly. Now imagine, if you can, that you have no ability to determine when this emotional cycle starts or stops, and that it may begin without you even being aware of it until some experience triggers the overwhelming emotional response.
Depression has definitely made it difficult for me to advance in my life. It has paralyzed me at times or left me afraid to try things that could end up having wonderfully positive results for my well being. It has almost gotten me into legal trouble. It has resulted in me engaging in self-destructive behavior. It has even made it difficult for me to seek help in dealing with depression when that is what I have needed.
When I'm depressed, I find it is easy to fall victim to what I call depressed-guy-logic. Depressed-guy-logic is that mode of thinking that dominates during periods of depression that jumps to conclusions, fails to acknowledge and accept unknowns, and generates cyclical thinking that exacerbates or prolongs depression. The solution for depressed-guy-logic, I have found, is detachment, the art of virtually stepping back from a situation to analyze what I do or do not really know and how accurate and well founded my conclusions which are a source of further stress are. Usually they are not based on very much at all. The next step is acceptance of any clarity gleaned through engaging in detachment. Neither of these things, detachment or acceptance, is always easy to do when I'm depressed. Sometimes they are not even possible. To engage in detachment it may be necessary to recognize that I am depressed first and that my depression is effecting my judgment. Sometimes I am so caught up in my depression that I can't see I am depressed and that is an obstacle to this. It helps me to regularly engage in mindful detachment regardless of my present emotional state. This makes engaging in detachment more reflexive, and if practiced it can be much easier to deploy this safety net. The next stage, acceptance, is also difficult. Even if detachment can successfully be exercised true acceptance of the conclusions I come to may be difficult to reach. Sometimes even acceptance of those conclusions isn't even much better because the conclusion may be a recognition that matters are inconclusive and unknown and in some states of depression I've experienced recognizing a situation as open ended is as difficult to deal with and accept as belief in conclusions reached through depressed-guy-logic are.
So currently I've been feeling depressed for a little while here, and upon reflection I think that fear that I won't be able to get enough financial assistance to return to school, or a job that can supplement that, or necessary medical benefits for myself and my wife, and then I won't be able to go back to school and I'll be stuck working in customer service for the rest of my life having tried to pursue my dreams and found myself either not good enough to achievethemorblockedby circumstancesoutsidemycontrolfromdoingso! *gasp* Okay, now I'm going to try to detach, shed the depressed-guy-logic and then accept the conclusion I arrive at and move on with my life in an effort to keep advancing along that invisible road. So what do I really know? I know that I will get my financial aid award notice from Minneapolis Community and Technical College in July (the financial aid office has told me the first week of July) and until then I won't be in a position to assess how able I am to return to school. I know that I will probably need to find a new [part time] job, but I haven't done anything myself to make that happen yet. I've looked at some possible employment options, but I haven't inquired anywhere and I definitely haven't applied for anything. I know there will be some part time jobs available to me that will grant medical benefits, but there may be other means by which to get comprehensive health care as a student that I haven't really explored yet. If the medical and financial necessities required for both Kristin and I to return to school cannot be arranged This year, it doesn't mean I can't start working and planning now to find a way to make it happen next year. It does not mean I have to be trapped working customer service forever, nor does it mean that I am not good enough to do something else. It means I may have to be more patient, or that I may have to let go of the idea of going back full time and find an alternative way to work through the prerequisites necessary for me to pursue entry into Vet school. I think I would be very disappointed to have to deal with this last scenario, maybe even discouraged, but it doesn't mean what I am seeking is impossible, just that it will be more difficult to attain. The real problem consistent to all of this is the uncertainty of what is going to happen in the next couple of months. For the time being though, I guess there is nothing to stop me pursuing a part time job in earnest. Just filling out applications and such, with the understanding that I won't be available to start anything until mid-late August. Okay, feeling a little bit better now. Maybe I'll fill out an application with UPS to be a warehouse sorter today or tomorrow.