From Depression to Progression: Guidance from the Mystery Tramp & Napoleon in Rags

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When you got nothing,
you got nothing to lose.
You’re invisible now, you
got no secrets to conceal.
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

Bob Dylan
Like a Rolling Stone

If you’re wondering what a couple of characters in a Bob Dylan song (Like a Rolling Stone) have to do with coping with depression (the subject of this series of blogs), so am I. But it made a lot of sense to me last night when I was listening to the song (a nightly ritual), so I thought I’d see if it still makes sense when I try to write about it.

I think that most people who are or who have been depressed will see the connection between depression and what Dylan is talking about in the lyrics from what may be his best song (and, imo, the best song of its generation and genre). The feelings of isolation, being different, having no purpose or direction, not being seen or known as you “really” are and not even really knowing yourself, finding no real pleasure in your life or your activities, and just rolling through life detached from your customary landscape—all of these are basic symptoms of depression. (Back in the pre-Prozac days when Dylan wrote the song, this package of “symptoms” would probably have been called “alienation” rather than “depression,” but that’s another story).

But Dylan also seems to suggest they are quite a bit more than mere symptoms of an illness. In Like a Rolling Stone, all of this sounds more like a necessary rite of passage than an illness or a personal problem. In order to move beyond the unconscious, unsatisfying life of “fitting in” with the crowd and its dubious and often oppressive collective values, into a fuller, more individualized and self-chosen life, we have to become depressed for a little while, at least. We have to recognize that life as we have known it so far really isn’t the whole story—and that more is required of us, and more is available to us if we make the effort. We have to recognize and experience this on a feeling level, not just a philosophical one.

The first stage in this process is becoming dissatisfied on a deep level with what we’ve already got, what we’ve already done, and who we already are—i.e., getting depressed. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to lead directly to sudden enlightenment and a clear sense of what’s really important and what we ought to do. Instead, the next step is about recognizing that we have to “compromise with the mystery tramp,” learning essentially how to live with one foot in two worlds—the world of what we can no longer be satisfied with, and the undefined world of our own creative vision. But that second world has not yet been created, because we've been too depressed to try. Which means we have to commit to it without knowing what we’ll get out of the deal in advance. Not all things are possible for us. It’s not like we can literally do anything and everything we want, once we decide what that is. We have our own limitations, we have to consider the needs of those attached to us, and we live in a finite and unpredictable world where things don’t always go as planned, no matter who we are. In short, every choice means leaving something else behind. And we can’t be sure that the choices we make in terms of where to focus our energy and effort are the “right” ones.

In Dylan’s terms, we have to “stare into the vacuum of [the mystery tramp’s] eyes and ask him do you want to make a deal.” And what the mystery tramp has to offer is the possibility of liberation from our own shame:

When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.

Without our images, schemes, and objects to protect, and our secrets to conceal, we’re finally free to be ourselves, and that is the foundation on which all development or progression from here on out depends. But the price we pay for this liberation is becoming even more invisible to those who aren’t taking this journey themselves.

One way or another, it seems, we’re stuck with some kind of being invisible. We can be invisible to ourselves by remaining stuck in the unproductive, uncreative suffering of depression where all anyone (including us) sees is our symptoms. Or we can be invisible to others by undertaking a private, interior journey where we try to turn our suffering and our symptoms into clues about what kind of changes we need to make in our personal lives. This latter kind of invisibility may be less painful and more rewarding, but it is still less than what we probably need, and is its own kind of suffering.

But maybe there’s another option. What if we take seriously the option of joining forces with “napoleon in rags” and add our own voices to the language he uses? It may not be popular in our culture of medicalized human problems and quick, consumption-based fixes for everything that bothers us. What if we try to become artists at expressing our own experience of depression? Instead of describing our symptoms and talking about all the medications and therapies we’ve tried, what if we talk instead about our desires and needs, fears and insecurities, hopes and dreams--and ask why they aren’t portrayed every place we look, like the other images our culture has seized on to define the world of human aspirations. All we really need to do is learn how to express what it feels like to be a rolling stone.

OK, rant over. Now, back to our regular programming.

Some of you may be wondering what developed after my last blog, about going in for ECT therapy. Well, that’s an interesting story all by itself.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself last week, after cleverly deducing that the message the Universe has been trying to send me has something to do with not isolating myself so much, and developing more “real-world” relationships and activities. And I was pretty sure I was taking the appropriate steps to remedy this situation by using ECT to help me out of my depression as quickly as possible, so I could bravely tackle the world of face-to-face relationships, on my own, undepressed terms.

A less biased observer might have noticed that there’s a pretty basic misfit between the goal (getting more involved socially) and the method (electroconvulsive therapy) in this plan of mine. And that my resolve not to “medicalize” my symptoms evaporated pretty quickly, and turned into a desire to get rid of them by the quickest means possible, instead of trying to learn something from them.

I suspect that’s why whoever’s in charge of delivering messages from the Universe decided that I need something a little more forceful and direct than the normal signaling methods. And that’s exactly what I got…

Last Tuesday night, I was in the behavior health unit of a local hospital, getting ready for an early bedtime so I that I’d be ready for my first ECT session the next morning. I was heading to the bathroom when, the next thing I knew, I found myself waking up in bed, in the regular medical section of the hospital, with a cast on my lower leg. Apparently, I had passed out while walking to the bathroom (thanks to several medications that tend to induce positional hypotension), fallen, and broken my ankle in a couple of places. It was a day and half later when I woke up, and I had missed my ETC session. When I asked about my ECT, and when I’d be going back to the behavioral health unit, I was told there were no beds available there, and that I had been taken off the ECT schedule, since no one knew how soon I’d be ready to do it.

Now, I can be pretty dense sometimes, but even I got this message. No ECT, at least for now. Instead, I will try to spend the next three months of enforced physical idleness (no biking or hiking—yikes!) seeing what other approaches to remaining (or getting?) sane I can come up with. You’ll be the first to know what I come up with, or don’t.

What do you think? How do you talk about depression (your own or others)--as symptoms and remedies, or as a clue to something bigger? Are you willing to start thinking of your depression as the beginnings of a new way of life, instead of as psychological symptoms--or does this make no sense at all to you?

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I am sad to hear about your fall and about your inability to have ECT. I think it is important to deal with depression but not to wallow in it. Sometimes you just have to face something that scares you. If you joined a counseling group with people that had the same problem, I think it would make you realize that other people have this problem and others with the same problem could possibly help you. I agree that doctors try to numb people with meds so we don't feel pain and anxiety. I do believe though that when you face the pain and the anxiety and learn to overcome it in baby steps you learn from it. If you suffer from a chemical imbalance it is important to keep on your meds but you can't use them as a pacifier to keep from life and from experiencing life. If you suffer from a chemical imbalance you have a handicapp but I believe that you are an intelligent person and a strong person and you can get through it. Best luck to you and your physical and emotional healing. Report
Well, the God in Whom you don't believe has intervened. As near as I can tell, ECT has the effect of wiping some memories that would be better if dealt with and processed.

I am still praying for you! Report
Coach Dean;
Twice I have been in the hospital with blood clots (one in each leg). I had to remain immobile with my feet up for many days while they adjusted the medication. The first time, I fell into a depression because the pain in my back became so severe along with everything else.

The second time, my wife brought my laptop and said one word... "WORK". Since most of my team was scattered across the country we met by teleconferences. When the medication let me, I would be on the calls. People were surprised saying things like "I thought you were in the hospital?" When I told them I was, they were even more shocked. However, it kept the depression from hitting me nearly as hard. So if you can find something to do while you're getting better. Maybe writing.

Reading your blog inspred me to sign-up for the Depression Group that you belong to. I have a condition that includes pain which causes depression which makes the pain worse. Maybe I can find something for myself as well.

Good luck... John Report
I think it is important for people to realize that we are ALWAYS ourselves. there is nothing to loose, nothing to find. Some days we have the strength to learn from our experiences and some days we just have to be gentle with our insecurities; but each day whether we are fat or thing, happy, sad, angry, depressed, joyful, productive, silly, whatever we are living a true expression of ourselves.

I can't claim to believe that things "happen for a reason," but what I do know is that our todays are shaping our tomorrows, we can't help but be where we are at, and we can choose to learn from any experience that comes our way.

Be at peace with the process, because healing takes time.

I very much enjoyed the description of being in two worlds at one time; very insightful! Report
Hey Coach Dean, so good to have you here with us, and yes, I too know you are a great person to have with Sparkpeople. YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO US!
Thanks for sharing. Sorry for the broken ankle, but perhaps, this alternative to your life's pathway is a sign! The broken leg was shock enough, and yes you are on the other side of that 'nothing wall'.
I know depression, and also love Bob Dylan. Actually quoted that line to the song not too long ago myself! GBG! There is Joy and laughter in the future, and it can also find us TODAY! Report
I do love these blogs! It gives you things to think about and be aware of. I can sympathize! Report
Dear Coach Dean,
It's as though you walked through the door when I was worried you were gone -- SO GLAD YOU ARE HERE. As for the rest, I'll ponder it later. I think you are a genius on the human interior, trust yourself. And lean on others, that's what we are all here for.
Elisabeth Report
Coach Dean, speaking of being moved by the Unvierse, I actually logged into SP today with the intent of posting a comment on your page...and found this instead.

I, too, experience clinical depression as a result of childhood trauma - tho' I didn't recognize it until 6 or 7 years ago - nor did I remember the trauma until through my job, I returned for the first time in 40+ years to the park when it took place. I was stubborn and didn't seek help until 2 years ago! I withdrew from most social obligations - did go to work but that was all I did because I had to pay the bills. I isolated myself from family & friends. Finally, I sought counseling. One of the first things my counselor taught me was to talk about it - share it with those around me - because she said in sharing it, there is a healing process. I have found her to be right. Each time I share my experience - I step closer to forgiveness for the person who committed this act...and I believe someday I WILL forgive him. In the meantime, I have come to the realization that I will always have depression in my life...just like I will have colds, or headaches, or tummy aches. It will bring anxiety and panic to my life...but each time I see it a little sooner - I am in tune with the soon as I recognize them, I can begin the process of overcoming it. SP has been a wonderful part of that process by offering blogging (and my wonderful team, Positive Bloggers, who encourages writing). Often as I blog of my day, it helps me to recognize that the black bag is slipping over me...and most times - not every time - I am able to push it off. My SparkFriends at Positive Bloggers, One Lb at a Time, and Moving It teams have come to recognize my isolating symptom and so will SparkMail (or email if I've shared it with some) to get me to see what's happening. It helps so much to have friends who care enough to do that - so don't isolate. Your friends - your co-workers - your Spark connections - will see it before you do...and, if you are as blessed as I, they will be honest and help you lift that black bag.

Depression is a terrible thing to experience - but, in the true nature of my fellow Positive Bloggers - I can also see it has a positive side - it forces me to face my fears - one at a time - some more difficult than others - but they are slowly - ever so slowly - dropping, one at a time.

We are here - so keep sharing - and we'll help with removing that black bag! Report
Speaking for myself - YMMV - my depression is due to being disempowered in some way. Maybe I gave my power away somehow, or I was bamboozled and fooled into a bad situation, or maybe I was simply overpowered in one way or another by a controller. In any event, for me medication and psychiatry only made it worse.

I need to get my own power back. When I'm deep in depression I ask myself how I lost my power. Sometimes I can get it back, other times not. Report
Having had ECT's and experienced the whole thing with depression, I feel your "pain". I think it was fate that caused the accident in the room. I'm sorry about your injury but I think it was a sign that ECT might not be for you. I've had them, about10 of them, and all they've done is erase my memory and make me feel even more like a basket case. Time, exercise, and the right meds are what has really worked for me and I hope that they work for you. God Bless You and Be With You Always. Report
Thank you, Dean, for continuing this series. Your thoughts on depression have given me much to contemplate and echoed so many of my own feelings.

I think I'm in that place of straddling both worlds now. I know there's a better life for me and I am (all too slowly to suit myself) trying to move in that direction, but there is a tether still to the old world that I can't (or don't want to?) cut. It's an awkward place to be, and I feel like I've been midstream way too long, long enough to doubt sometimes that the other side is even reachable.

This is a disease, I'm convinced of it, although not one we understand nearly adequately enough yet to make medical remedy an easy, or even preferable, answer. I've chosen to take medication, not because I believe it is a sure-fire solution, but because it allows me to be at least minimally functional, to stay employed, to pay my bills, and to lift me out of the bottommost areas of that dark pit. Treatment is expensive as I have no insurance (and have been denied coverage because of my diagnosis - that old Catch-22), so I am always seeking non-medical ways of coping and co-existing with this condition. I don't think it's about which course of treatment is "right" or "wrong," but rather what works for each individual. Clearly in your case, events conspired to give you more time to pursue non-medical solutions, and I applaud you for letting us in on the revelations this is bringing you. Rarely have I seen such insight, courage, and honesty. Thank you. Report
hey, hey, ua mai le life... Report
nice page..i really apprecitate what you have shared with others. keep up the good me.. Report
Fighting depression is a long process. I am still in the battle on and off... I have good days and bad days. Fortunately, I begin to understand myself and the purpose of life and that makes things a lot easier. Sometimes I wonder if depression will ever really go away... but you know what? I believe everything happens for a higher purpose. Maybe our experience will become someone's blessing some day. Who knows? For now, hang in there! Report
I agree with NIGHTSTARZZ. I was born dissociated, moody, I see smiling baby pictures, but my father said "I was very difficult" as a child. The symptoms just lengthened and deepened over 38 years, and by then, I'm "hard wired"! I've been blessed to have a few good friends, something I wouldn't try until I was diagnosed
and medicated.I'm an enabler so I have to be careful.
All of you take care, especially you Dean!
i am so glad to hear you are still investigating the benefits of depression AND that you were way-layed on your way to ECT... i want to be supportive but i am in agreement that you were being impatient in your reach for a quick remedy which might have been like a slap in the face(i.e., kept you from raving madness) but not necessarily solved any problems or eliminated any hurdles...if i can(which i think i can) forward this to a friend of mine who has been out of a job for 3 years and it is hard for her to keep a stiff upper lip as her possessions slowly fall away... i think your thought that we can be disappointed in how far we haven't come, and thus, to MAKE us re-evaluate, we become depressed which can open up our creative thinking on HOW to become more proud of ourselves... i don't know if your timing just so happens to coincide with my coming out of it, but i feel like you hit the nail on the head and it is TIME to kick myself in the butt(which is VERY hard at 384#) and get healthy and get back to the teaching that i am SUPPOSED to be doing...i took a leap of faith 16 years ago to quit the bookkeeping i was doing and to start fresh with daycare because i KNEW i needed to be around the little ones...i have constantly had clients...they came as the first outgrew me, and again, but now i seem to be dwindling where it is no longer not just not profitable but it is in the it may be time to tweak my vocation/occupation to take better advantage of my gifts...ANYway...thank you, thank you, thank you for your depression phase and your talking your way thru it so we(i) can benefit--and, p.s., hopefully we can help you find your next even better MUST see that there are many out here who care...thanks for keeping us posted along the journey...karen3 Report
I really did not get this point. What I do know about depression it is not the fun. We really do not think we are depressed, it is just bad mood, but it is not, it is illness. As any illness it must be treated. Well, it is not the case that all the time I got cold I go to doctor, but it is better idea to get treatment then do nothing with it. I think in most cases people get into dipper condition of depression because it is untreated. When this untreated condition combined with something bad happen as lose or some tragedy depressed person can get into very big health problems: heart attac. diabetes, memory lose, and so on. Report

I have spent some time pondering lately the emotional side of this journey. Depression is a disease, yes...but when we get into such a funk I believe it behooves us to dig deeper. Why are we at the place we are?

While I completely understand your desire to get rid of the symptoms as quickly as possible, I truly believe you weren't meant to. You've dealt with the physical side (food and activity) of this journey, but as you stated in an earlier blog, perhaps you haven't entirely dealt with some of the emotional injuries of your youth. I agree that the Universe has decided it's time. And perhaps I was meant to read this today as well. Am I ready to deal with that side of MY journey? I guess maybe I am.

Thanks, as always, for sharing. I hope you know how helpful your candor has been to me.

Best of luck to you.


P.S. I wish you luck also in figuring out alternate physical activities during this time. So sorry about the biking and hiking!

Good luck with your recovery.

In answer to your question--can we think of depression as a new beginning?--
I can only say that my depression, which started about two years ago, was the beginning of the most unproductive time of my life, which lasted about a year.

I was writing, until depression hit, then nothing would come to me. It's as if my mind shut down. Oh, I still functioned somewhat--but barely. I lost interest in sex, social life, and most of the things we humans like to do. But I never gave up hope.
I saw a psychiatrist sometimes, went through psychological counseling, and tried different anti-depressants until I found the one that helped me. I didn't discuss my depression with anyone but my doctors. I mentioned it to a few friends, but I didn't go into detail. Anyway, all's well now. I'm depression-free, happy, and productive.

What may be surprising to some is my age. I had always thought that neoroses, depression, etc. were almost impossible to overcome at an advanced age. Not true. I'm seventy-one. I go to the gym about four times a week, ride the bicycle on trails near my home five or six times a week, do the elliptical machine from twenty to thirty minutes each time I go to the gym.

You mentioned something about "fitting in" being an unsatisfying life. I think we humans, by nature, want to fit in. Some of us, not through choice, are unable to fit in because of our basc natures, our upbringing, or a combination of both--the debate rages on--but we can still lead happy and productive lives. You know--lemonade out of lemons.

Best wishes.

My vote is that you are on the right track with this, and I am quite encouraged. God answers prayers in such "creative" ways sometimes. Hope the ankle mends quickly and well. Please keep writing. Your thought processes are stimulating to follow. Report
First of all, what a powerful message you got! I have to say I was a bit surprised you were going for the ECT so quickly.. take full advantage of the attention you'll be getting on those crutches.. I am sure there will be lots of conversations! I am sorry about incident, but I am happy that you are looking at life in a more positive way... at least that's the way I took what your blog said...

I think many things in life can give us new beginings, but in our daily rush we miss out on those opportunities... I see a counselor every month, and I swear the timing of the appointment usually fits right around my current problems...

keep up the good work!!! Report
Dean, I'm glad the Universe to telling you there are other ways to deal with your depression. I am sorry that you broke your ankle, but you did get some sleep from it. Now take the next few weeks taking it easy and choosing the path you will take. You're a 'rolling stone' so roll with it. Report
Dean! So wonderful to get an update on your progress. I'm no expert on ECT but I'm interested to hear that you are listening to the "Universe." I am glad to hear that. The quote you present from Bob Dylan is one of my favorites. It falls in line with the Buddhist philosophy that our true identities are in fact "nothing." The concept of a continuing identity is just a illusion based on the way our brains process information. Rather than fear this concept of "nothingness", I believe it is liberating in the sense that it frees us from many of the preconceived thoughts and behavior patterns we come to identify ourselves with. So as Dylan says "When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose." Allow these words to be your hall pass to let go of all the thoughts, behaviors and feelings that have been paining you and you will eventually hear silence -- that is the sound of the universe speaking to you. Therein, I think you will find your salvation. I lean on these words from Bob for the same support.

Take Care,
Tammie Report
I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers Coach Dean...thank you for sharing this most personal side of yourself with us! I hope you feel better both physically and emotionally very soon!! the song! Report
I don't believe ECT would be something I would or could consider. I am a depressive person, but that seems way radical and a bit impulsive in your case. True in one sense that I too must fight my own isolation tendencies and low self-esteem issues, the answer lies in my own actions which may or may not include a conscious connection with God. I do know that over the same series of months I've been on Spark I've also applied methods to engage my "issues". Though little victories can be hard to track and glean a lot of satisfaction from, I count them non-the-less. Little Victories (Bob Seger BTW) amount to Large Victories when combined over time! No full recovery indeed, but I have been happier overall the last 8 months! Report
I have been through depression because of rape and because I didn't report it. One thing I learned that led to more happiness is to learn how to forgive the way Christ did. He didn't ask for anybody to pay the consequences but asked us to forgive so we would be forgiven. We have all sinned and so I asked that those that raped me be forgiven and I lost all hatred and resentment and even vengence and learned a lot by it and learned to get on with my life. Its too hard to hate and get upset about anything. Report
I have been enjoying reading your blogs, I too have been going through some pretty severe depression, I have not tried to get help though, as I just don't feel like leaving the house and dealing with it, it takes courage to share what you are going through, Kudo's to you. Report
Dean, that is quite the message !!! I love your blogs keep us up dated ..and take care !!!! Report
Coach Dean, I wish you a speed recovery, both physically and emotionally. Report
If someone wanted to give me ECT I would go hide and never be found. Maybe some good funny movies, and a lot of laughs would help. I have lived with depression most of my life and it stinks, but laugher always helps for the moment and that is all we have..this moment. Report
Dean first I wish you well in your journey to physical and emotional health. I am so happy that you have chosen to share your struggles with us. You have always been one of my motivators and this has just strengthened as you have shared so intimately with us. So many people deal with depression and its various causes and symptoms. It takes great courage to share these issues with all of us. I too suffer at times with depression and have also fractured my ankle. I know it is no fun however I know that it will give you time to work on your health. I realize it is a bummer that you can't participate in your favorites like running and hiking but get some hand weights and use this time to strengthen your upper body. I think the universe has spoken well. I have had ECT so I do know what you are missing-be happy you missed it. It can be an excellent form of treatment but it is nice to be able to avoid it if possible. I commend you for sharing the intimate details of your life. It is so nice to know that all of us can have to deal with these issues. I have always used you and your articles as motivators and this has just multiplied this. Again thanks for sharing your struggles with us. I wish you continued success on your journey to rehab your ankle as well as heal your emotional health too. Keep up the great strides you have made in your healthy lifestyle journey!! Report
More will be revealed. Right now it seems you are being given the opportunity to be still and contemplate basic questions of life. I identified with the depression as opportunity to see what is deeper. I had the American dream and found I was spiritually bankrupt. When I was led through direct experience to my true nature I dissolved into laughter at the cosmic joke. May the sound of laughter and smiles of light be yours. Report
Wow, the big guy must have been having a really hard time getting your attention!
I love Dylan and especially that song. Rest up and hopefully it won't be too long of a recuperation.

Remember, next time listen...or it just might be both ankles :) Report
Fortunately, I haven't suffered from depression and don't understand it, but I do have one question: Would it help to listen to happier tunes? If I'm down I don't won't to listen to sad, pessimistic depressing messages in my music. Just a thought.
Yeah, I think the big man may be telling you to stay away from the electric shock therapy. I pray that you get relief from the depression and the broken ankle very soon. Report
Quite a message there. Report
The mystery tramp also isn't selling any alibis.

Anyway - if you want to hear a great newer song about depression, listen to Barenaked Ladies' "Brian Wilson":
It's even got something in it about weight.

And, every day is a journey. You know that from weight loss but it's a journey in other ways as well. And you are on a good path. But remember that it sometimes meanders. Report
I love this Bob Dylan song, one of my favourites. It strikes what Tony Schwartz calls "The Responsive Chord". A moment when someone else, someone you've never met suddenly creates the words the fit where you are and how you're feeling. It is for me a realization that I am not that differenet than the broader world, that others out there are fighting my battles and I do not stand alone. I find strength in the Responsive Chord, a renewed passion to move to a better place, or a celebration of the place I'm in, depending on the chord struck.

Were I in your shoes Coach Dean I would feel that I just got a good solid smack up side the head by "the universe" or a greater power, however you see it! Would certainly have me rethinking my decisions. I hope you know that in writing this blog you have struck a Responsive Chord. Just by reading all these comments I hope you can see how the chord hums across the universe and how many others are in tune with it.

You're in a very challenging place in life, with your heart surgery, a new dance with an old demon (depression) and now this. But I do beleive that when faced with life's challenges the gifts we need to get through are always placed in our paths, its up to us to look for them and pick them up. Maybe the gift is a new friend, or a reconnection with an old friend, maybe the gift is a good book, or a movie that speaks to our souls, maybe the gift is a beautiful sunset, or a dawn that ends a long and dark night. The gifts are all around us, if we are just willing to pick them up.

I wish you well. I love your blogs, they inspire me and lift me, you are a gift I am thankful for. This is a dark journey you are on, but you are doing it with insight and understanding and I am grateful for your courage in sharing it. Look for your gifts, they are there, like the pennies on the road in Nancy's blog today! I wish you well. Report
For me as I was crying at inopportune moments and seriously stressed out, I was just looking to escape my depression not learn from it. I took the medication route and it's worked for me. My Dr is starting to back me off some of the meds I'm on so wish me luck. I'm feeling good now and really hate to rock the boat but he's the Dr and if I can be on less medications and still feel good that’s a good thing. One thing though - I feel kind of unemotional. I'm not depressed but not happy. I guess that's the price I had to pay to feel better. And I do feel better. I did talk with someone for awhile. And I started journaling my feelings. It did help immensely to get in touch with my feelings and deal with them. Well, thanks for taking us along on your journey. I’m so sorry about your ankle. The Lord moves in mysterious ways. I hope you feel better soon. :) Report
I am sorry about breaking your ankle but maybe the message is to just rest and recuperate!
All the best for a swift recovery Coach Dean. Report
Thank you Dean for sharing, is it selfish to believe you broke your ankle to give you these new insites for us. I know God works in mysterious ways. I've dealt with dissociative behavior since infancy, clinical depression, chronic insomnia and panic attacks that I kept insisting were not panic attacks! One day in my 30's Jesus stood beside me on a mountain top, A white glowing image. He swept his hand from the North to the South and said, "You have lost more than half of your life to this." meaning my condition. I hadn't even been diagnosed yet! Sress would come and I would dissociate (become invisible) and carry on with my day. Sometimes I come back to reality finishing a great day of home schooling with my 2 sons. They'd be laughing having a great time of learning. Other times I'd find myself at a grocery store, talking to someone I didn't know and wrap up the conversation. Eventually The Lord showed me that it was always 3 hours from leaving the house, talking to strangers not knowing it, 3 hours would have passed and only 2 or 3 items were in my shopping cart! My first psychiatrist visit I evisioned an Albert Einstein type wild hair as in catoons. After listening to a few sentences he opened his book for me to read about me. A type of scizophrenia called scizo-effective disorder. I've tryed to go off my meds. One time I was good for 3 months! Hallelujah! But back to the meds, 4 different behavioral hospitalizations, (my husband didn't believe in mental ilness, I should be working & giving him the money). I never want to go back, they just want to change your meds and I've tried them all and found what works!
A possibiity for you Dean, my family is on facebook and sometimes they just chat and sometimes play scabble, got to hear how my niece ate seaweed off the beach and almost lost it. Said it tasted plastic.Hmn...
Do you have friends on facebook or time to play scrabble with them? They wouldn't be surprised if you joined my family for your recouperation! I really hope you heal quick and stong.
I can relate to the Daughter not speaking to you. Mine stopped speaking to me in third grade! She did need me to sit in the back of her class a few weeks for panic attacks she was having. When she felt better, I was out of class. Then in sixth grade she told a friend she was suicidle. They went to a trusted teacher who took them to the Principles office who's required to call social services. When I got home the Principle was sitting with my daughter on her piano bench (Daddy spoiled her) and as soon as I found out what was going on I made an appointment for her to see a therapist. The Therapist asked her if there was one thing she could change what would it be? My daughter answered that when her daddy yells, I keep quiet and then it will be over. The therapist gave me my orders. My daughter is in her 2nd year of college and still doesn't speak to me, even on school breaks when she's home and at Church. I hug a stiff board.
But believe it or not that's the least of my concerns. Mental illness has not skipped at least five generations on my mother's side. My oldest son 24 carry's a heavy burden of clinical depression I was too sick to recognize. He chose public school in 9th grade,an A student, then 12th grade began a spiral down that a teacher recognized and tried to convince him to lighten his school load. He wouldn't listen, fell behind, a couple of teachers made deals with him to turn in work late for his diploma, but no walk with the graduating class and no Senior Trip. No Senior Trip hurt him the most and to this day he can't go down the driveway of that school. He's been with the Community Mental Health Group, and recently was determined to be eligible for certain work. Vocational Rehab has that department and for two years they have not found one job for him. And Congress just passed $17MILLION welfare for horses!
It's hard to be getting slower mentally, lonely...Praise God I have Jesus! And not knowing where to put all my stuff from a house(divorce papers served Christmas Eve2007) into a small section 8 apartment.
But I've never known a time without a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in my tummy. I know He watches me...........
Sorry about the ankle. I hope it gets better sooner rather than later. I'm not a religious person but do believe in divine intervention! Report
Yes depression has been in my life and I am in recovery. I sank to the level of almost no return. One morning I woke up and could not walk the medications that I had been taking for depression gave me a severe reaction after taking them for over six months, I was terrified. I stopped taking the medication and began to journal and keep my mind occupied with several things. I find that each person handles their feelings in different ways, for me I turned to alcohol for comfort. I drank from morning to night. I did not care as my quality of life was gone. I had been bed ridden and was dying from the inside out. I saw a specialist and he told me I had a month to live if I did not stop drinking because it was killing me. That was my wake up call, I stopped drinking that day and have never had a drink since. I am no longer depressed even though the cause of the depression is still there my daughter disowned me and will not allow me to see my only grand daughter, but I know deep in my heart she will wake up one day and see that my grand daughter needs me as muxh as I need her in my life.
I am living life each day to the fullest, after all we are only here once so you may as well make your life the best it can be. LIVE, LOVE AND LAUGH Enjoy life.
Wishing you a speedy recovery. Report
I know depression. As some others have commented here, I've suffered with it most of my life (58 yrs old). I struggled with bouts through my childhood and teens. I hated myself often in my twenties and life could feel very ugly. I finally was "diagnosed" in my thirties and denied it. In my forties I took Prozac. And in my my mid fifties, I stopped the drugs, I try to love myself through it and give myself some time and space while it either runs it's course or until I can force myself to get up and get on my bike. The complete joy of my riding will not be there during these times, but it's much better than curling up in bed. Sometimes I'm successful and I try to accept these moments as the best I can do at the time. I guess I've just gotten so used to it anymore that I don't even identify it by's just my life. No, I don't feel the joy of living that some of you do and that makes me sad. But I don't wallow in self pity about it either. It's like living with any disability. I'm sad for those whose symptoms are completely debilitating and I can understand trying something as extreme as ECT.

Just last November I came across a thing called neurofeedback. I'm a very skeptical person by nature, but this sounded like something to try. The part about it that makes it sound like "snake oil" treatment is that anyone and their dog can buy an apparatus and start using it on people. I chose a trained licensed clinical social worker who has a psychotherapy practice in town. I must admit to being surprised when things started to change in me. The first thing I noticed was a sense of feeling "softer" inside my body. It was like the anger that was always ready to bubble to the surface was subsiding. The razor blade sort of feeling, the edginess, that I'd always known was gone and I was kinder to myself and others. My thinking was nicer. Of course I didn't expect this to last, but it's been six months now--and I haven't had a treatment in three. For the most part it's holding.

My heart goes out to you Dean. I wish you all the best and will pray for your recovery. Report
I was a big fan of "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" too..... I think maybe the great kahuna upstairs was trying to tell you something. I don't feel this ECT stuff is good for you. It might help the emotional electrodes in your head, but what is it doing to the other physical aspects of your brain. It's like putting a power surge through your computer. The computer might still work, but the mother board is never quite the same. I don't know if I can agree with the new life aspect. I am still in the throes of depression myself. I lost my job (again) because of my "attitude. I have lost so many jobs because of my "attitude". I haven't been able to find another job because of it. This last time when my boss fired me, she made a comment that she thought I had depression issues. I therefore went to the shrink and they discovered I was Bi-Polar. I'm trying really hard to get my act together, but I have so many directions I need to go to improve. This is the rolling stone part. I guess if you look at my life, I've hit rock bottom and there is no way to go but up. So maybe it is a new life. Now all I know is I need to figure out which direction I'm supposed to go. By the way, I gotta tell you that movie gave me nightmares for weeks and I cried terribly in the end. It's gotta get better right?
I hope your ankle is doing OK and keep your chin up. It's gotta get better....Right? Report
I, myself, have not dealt with depression, but my heart goes out to those who suffer under it's pressure. I pray that their suffering is short lived and that they can return to a normalcy very quickly. Report
I have a daughter who is 5'7" 125 lbs...previously she has been very fit, yoga, swimming, etc. But just recently, with a job "change", she has let her exercising go. Yesterday I commented how beautiful she looked in her 2 piece swim suit... and she admitted how out of shape she is since her classroom shift. Now that was eye opening all by itself, but then she asked if she might train with me for my regimine for my C25K... I guess we all need something... Report
I think a lot of things we go through and choices we have to make are so much clearer in retrospect than when we're in the midst of depression. When someone is depressed I think they just need to get through to the other side. Report
Ah, an intervention! Sometimes they are for the good. "Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it, and the result might not be what you expected." Sometimes a "no" ends up beautifully, because we really had not imagined other options which became apparent after our initial decision. I always wonder whether other parts of the body figure out how to collude to change plans because "they know". When I think I can "manage" my symptoms, my body just gets more creative in its manifestations -- guess what, I have to "deal" with my real issues or face escalating manifestations.

Dylan's song brings out my inner critic. Just because somebody wrote a song doesn't mean the message is "true." What I understand: when we see no options, we are lying to ourselves, we only see shut doors, not the options. Most emotions expressed in songs are about sick attachments, aren't they? Report
You probably already know my bias since I've mentioned it before. I'm pretty pragmatic, and for myself or for someone in my family, I would be in favor of getting rid of depression the quickest way possible. It's socially isolating, and I think you are going to need something different to help you get through this period of enforced rest. I would not want to force my opinion on you, but I am not at all sure that more introspection is what you need right now. Where will you be recuperating? Will someone be coming to visit you? Will you be in a setting where you could potentially interact with others? Could it be that the larger purpose of this period of forced inactivity is to encourage you to interact more with others and cultivate social relationships? Report
Great Song! One of my very favorites... but I never realized how much meaning there was to it. I certainly understand what the song is implying now and can relate. I have suffered from depression and anxiety big time for the past 20 years. However, like Dan Odea I am on Wellbutrin and Citolpram which help imensly. I would not under any circumstance ever want to go back to the dark hole I was in before. Never. I still have bad days occasionally, but not like I did before. This was an interesting Blog....I would like to know how things come out. The are many of us out here that truly, can relate to your feelings. I imagine you have tried medications, perhaps to no avail. I certainly think I would have a second opinion or two before I tried ECT. That thought scares me. Take care of yourself, you are important to us. Hope your ankle heals quickly. Report
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