I've been struggling for a while about whether or not to post this post...it is more personal than I am normally comfortable being and, perhaps, more personal than others may be comfortable with me being. I have decided to go ahead with it for a few reasons, mostly having to do with my desire to be authentic in this journey we call life, and also to normalize an experience that I believe is fairly common to people of my relative age grouping.
For the past few months, I have suspected that I have been struggling with a mild depression, something that has afflicted me two other times in my life - once in my twenties, and once in the months after Matthew was born (which I recognized only in hindsight to be post-partum related). For me, the experience of depression manifests itself through feelings of helplessness (and sometimes hopelessness), occasionally having a weary perspective on life, exhaustion due to the insomnia that I struggle with even in better days, and pervasive feelings of sadness. I believe it has been brought on, at least in part, by a number of events and experiences of the past few years; things that I've had to 'get through' at the time but which have remained unexplored in terms of the lasting impact they have had on my life. Mixed into this is the continuation of my struggle with what I referred to a week or two ago as being a "reckoning" - more commonly nicknamed a mid-life crisis. For me, and I believe for many others I see around me, the reckoning involves the seeking out of answers to those bigger questions of life: who am I? what happened to the person I thought I was going to be? what do I want out of the rest of my life? what about all of those unfulfilled goals and dreams and ambitions? The list is fairly extensive.
So that reveals a little about the symptoms I experience as well as about some of the possible causes of this experience. I am thankful that, unlike others I know who struggle (or who have struggled) with depression, my own situation is not extreme. There is nothing unusual about any of these symptoms or causes - they are all common to humanity...perhaps only their pervasiveness is different for someone who is struggling with depression. This is the part where I hope to normalize a bit what I'm going through. I look around me on a day-to-day basis and, based on my interactions with family members, friends, co-workers and clients, I see many people struggling through similar issues, perhaps without realizing their significance and perhaps without being able or willing to engage in the issues in a way that might produce better long-term emotional health.
In order to wade through these issues as effectively as possible, and in order to reduce their impact on my day-to-day life as much as possible, I have been working with a therapist for the past few months and hope to continue doing this work in the weeks and months ahead. He is an amazing and (blessedly) compassionate person who is helping me gain insight into my life, and I am finding that there is something very healing imbedded in the process of discussing with another person, in complete confidence, all of those things that I've never told anyone else and all of those things that I've needed to work through and haven't. I hope to emerge from the process somehow more whole and content, and hope that the experience will lend me greater depth of understanding of others who undergo these types of struggles.