Friend or Foe: Reacquainting with the Beast

socs-badgeThis week is the one-year anniversary of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. I’ve loved this weekly prompt, even though I haven’t participated every week. Sometimes, when nothing else can motivate me, I look forward to this prompt to break the logjam of ideas.

This week Linda writes:

As a special feature for February’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, The Bee and I have decided to collaborate! As you may know, on her site – Just Fooling Around with Bee – a month-long blog-hop is going on in recognition of Love, called “Love Is In Da Blog.” The week 4 prompt is Love in friendship.

Then she adds: Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: acquaint and/or friend.

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And now, I write:

I apologize to my male readers in advance, but when I personify something that gives me a lot of grief, I automatically make it male. So the character that I introduce in this post has had a male identity in my mind for the last 20 years. It might be time to revisit that decision, but not today.

Thirty years ago, after the birth of my third child, I realized something was wrong. I don’t know exactly when it happened that I had stopped caring about things, when I started simply going through the motions of getting through the day. But on that particular day, I looked out the window of the living room, and knew that things didn’t add up. If everyone had as lethargic as I did,  no one would be out moving around outside. Yet, when I looked out the window, people WERE moving around.

And at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with  depression. It’s possible that it was part of me before that, but we had not been formally introduced. Since that time, the depression has been a rather consistent companion. I used to believe that if I worked hard enough, I could get him to leave. I saw him as an intruder, a thief who robbed me of happiness and motivation. On quite a few occasions, I’ve convinced myself that I had successfully overcome it, and would congratulate myself on being back to “normal,” but after several times of crashing into the depths again, I knew I needed a different approach.

So after 12 years of battling him as an enemy to be defeated, I named him and accepted his commitment to our relationship. I decided to try to “make friends” with him, or at least negotiate some kind of truce so that we could co-exist. Since The Beast (as I not-so-affectionately name him) is convinced he wants to stay around, I/we established  a few ground rules for our relationship. I agreed to stop trying to evict him, and his bids for attention have become less intense–most of the time.

Interestingly, I can usually put on a good face no matter how I feel, especially if I have an obligation to meet. More often than not, people who see me (especially at work), have no idea that I’m battling The Beast. As a result, people (who do find out) are often surprised to learn I’m dealing with The Beast. For example, during my second year in Taiwan, I had a total knee replacement. When I was meeting with my orthopedic surgeon beforehand, we went over my medications, and he expressed something close to shock: “YOU are being treated for depression?” 

In my role as teacher and mentor, there are times when students are also surprised to find out that I understand depression so intimately. When students come to me with motivation problems or depressive symptoms, I am able to help them, often by simply sharing part of my own story.  They are so surprised to learn that it is something I deal with. In fact, sometimes I recognize symptoms in students before they realize that something isn’t quite right. When I’m able to ask them a few questions, and I see the recognition in their eyes, I don’t mind so much that I’ve spent the time with the Beast. Who would have thought that The Beast was serving me well in this unexpected way?

I don’t think I will ever refer to The Beast as a friend, but I no longer treat him as the enemy. I look for ways to keep most of his drama at bay, so I can still get the things done that need to be done. However, sometimes his cries for attention come at the most inopportune times. When that happens, I try to think of him as a part of me that is missing something that he needs, something that I’m forgetting to give myself. I don’t let him control my life, but I don’t try to pretend he doesn’t exist or ignore his pleas for help. I like to think that this attitude is what has made it easier to get along with The Beast. We’re both a little more understanding.

80 days until 60!

If you’d like to participate in this week’s challenge, here are the links.

http://lindaghill.com/2015/02/27/special-edition-friday-prompt-for-socs-february-2815/

https://justfoolingaroundwithbee.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/love-is-in-da-blog-february-ping-back-post-rulessuggestions-week-4/

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16 comments on “Friend or Foe: Reacquainting with the Beast

    • Sometimes it works. I had a major dip this week, which I am attributing to the new meds I was trying for the shoulder. Stopped those, and life looked much brighter. OK, it started to feel like I could put one foot in front of the other again. Without that, who needs a shoulder? 😉

  1. This is an amazingly honest post and I admire you so much ! I refer to depression as the black dog. Not unlike the beast! You are an amazingly brave woman. Thank you for sharing!! xxxxxxxx

    • Thank you! That is sometimes the only redeeming quality I can in all of this–that I can somehow help other people get through it. And to realize that they have options. Most important, not to place blame on yourself for it. How many times did I get stuck in the idea that I had so much to be thankful for, that I should be ashamed for being depressed. Apples and oranges, but so many people (those who suffer from depression as well as those who observe it in others) think that it’s a matter of choice. Right, I choose to be miserable. 🙂 I’d love to snap out of it, were it only that simple. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

    • It’s not always peaceful, but it’s better than it used to be. And then there are weeks like this past one when I realize that it’s a constant work in progress. At least, we have another truce in the making. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  2. I admire your strength dealing with The Beast, as you so aptly call it, as well as your willingness to use your experience with it to help others. I commend you for that, and for sharing the way you have here. Great SoCS post.

    • Thanks! This was one of those weeks where The Beast and I had to talk, so I figured sharing it might bring it out in the open for others. I appreciate your comments. :-).

  3. Maybe one day I will be able to deal with depression the same way. Even though I prefer to call it “black dog” :-). Thanks for sharing. May you always find what you need!

    • Apparently, others use “black dog,” too. But with my little puppy being mostly black, I don’t think it would work very well in our household. 😉 But seriously, it’s like any other chronic issue. If you have to live with it, you may as well discover a way to get along. The Beast will never be my first choice of companion, but I still have to accept the fact he’s going to hang around, making his presence felt more acutely from time to time. We’re learning to put up with each other. 😉

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