Road to Recovery
How do I even begin...?
I pondered for a while over how to approach writing this post. It is the first I have written in a while. Actually, I have been writing all along; I have not shared anything I have recently written with anyone else. There are plenty of good reasons why I stopped posting, but I will focus this post on the biggest one.
If you have not read my first blog post, I will begin by summing it up for you. Back in March, on the morning of my birthday, I woke up and decided that I was going to end my life. I wrote a suicide note while I sat at work that evening, and if not for the timely intervention of my brother, I might well never have made it home that night. I opened up to my family, sought help from my physician, went into therapy, began taking a lot of strange medications I had never thought that I would need to rely upon, and started on the road to recovery from my freshly diagnosed Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, and Anxiety Disorder.
I highlighted the words 'road to recovery' above because navigating through this period of my life has been a lot like taking a road trip without a reliable map. Therapy has helped me to learn to anticipate and react when I find myself turning down a particularly rough path, but there are outside factors that I will not always be fully equipped to manage without some effort (at least, for now... I am getting stronger, despite the contrarian remarks of my recently pessimistic inner voice).
I had a difficult time writing and posting after I was confronted with the fact that being open and honest about myself was inadvertently exposing some of the people in my life in ways they could not have anticipated. I believed that nobody was really reading what I was writing, anyway. I began to think that nobody would even notice if I stopped, and questioned what it was that I was trying to accomplish with this blog. Was this just attention-seeking behavior? I expressed these concerns in a previous post, as well, but I had some strong, almost insurmountable doubts that this whole endeavor, that my dreams of becoming a writer, that my desires to be helpful to anyone else, were even remotely achievable.
I have been exceptionally low, lately, and there are many factors that led me to this state.
Firstly, my work/life balance has experienced a bit of an upheaval due to my company's reasonable responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, and these changes seem like they are just the beginning. Having only just come back to work after months away, I am generally uneasy with my status at work and feel that if certain anticipated changes come to fruition, it may prove perilous to the progress I have made. Of course, the changes I so dread have not yet come to pass, and there is no guarantee that they will... but I am anxious about the possibilities, regardless.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is something some of you may have heard of, though perhaps never in those precise terms. The shortening of days and lengthening of nights, coupled with my erratic, frankly unhealthy work shift rotation, exacerbate some of the issues I have been confronting over the past nine months, such as sleep deprivation, anxiety, and suicidal ideations. The holidays are difficult since my dad passed away, and there is a substantial correlation between my depression and unresolved parental relationship issues I continue to work through.
Finally, just watch the news. For like, five minutes, watch the news. Any news channel will do, they are all equally hazardous to your peace of mind. I happen to tick every checkbox of the 'people it's okay to hate' list, and being told I am terrible and evil by total strangers shouldn't bother me... but it bothers me a lot. I care what people think of me, and I was starting to lose hope that anything I did or said would make a whit of difference in the end.
I lost hope, just in time for Christmas.
During an unexpected, but very welcome phone conversation I had yesterday, my brother-in-law reached out to offer some support and encouragement. It had a big impact on me, and I believe that I am only able to write this blog post, now, in part because he helped me to recognize that as low as I have been, and as alone as I have felt, I am loved, wanted, and appreciated.
Another unsolicited message came from a person who shares a former profession and knows me only by virtue of having worked for neighboring police departments for a time. This person asked if I was okay, and after explaining that I have been very low lately but that I believed I would be okay, they said that they had subscribed to this blog and asked me what my message was.
That got me thinking.
What is my message?
What is it I am trying to accomplish, here? Is it an exercise in egoistic hubris to imagine that anything I share here will, someday, help me to gain some future employment as a writer? Is this a living résumé? Is it an effort to exorcise some of the thoughts that clutter my mind? Is it a sincere effort to tell my story as a cautionary tale, or as a way to encourage others, as my brother-in-law and so many others encouraged me?
Let's go back to my first blog post, again. I had just been involved in a motor vehicle accident. I was grateful to be alive for the first time in months. In therapy, my general anxieties regarding my choice of professions became clear. I had just rediscovered some of the stories and prose that I had written in the past, and reading my own words years-on, I recognized that I have some talent for this. All of those things factored into my decision to begin a blog and bare my soul to anyone willing to devote a few minutes of their time to hear what I had to say. I was inspired by a co-worker who has a successful (and hilarious) podcast. I was inspired by another co-worker, who had shared a self-help life-coach blog with me (the Artidote). I was inspired to take all these thoughts rattling around in my head and put them to the best use I could.
And that is my message... or rather, my mission.
I write this blog to give all that I have endured, all that I struggle with, all I have overcome (and all I have still yet to overcome) a purpose. I am surviving. I have had setbacks, and I have been precipitously low lately, but I will overcome. No matter how badly I find myself off-course, I will find my way back onto the road to recovery, and if I can do it, everyone can.
Regardless of whether I achieve a single dream or help a single soul, I have to keep writing. Even if it doesn't help me become a professional writer, and even if nobody reads a single word of it, I need to do this.
I am on the road to recovery from depression and PTSD. It is not an easy road to be on, but this blog is my roadmap; I need it as much as I need therapy and medication.