Depression Visits Again

* Easter is day after tomorrow. For many of you there will be increased flashbacks, and it would be a good idea to prepare for them by recalling things that have helped in the past. A list of people to call, a journal, art supplies, a project requiring some physical activity, affirmations, music, or meditation tapes. Just knowing you have a plan will help!

* I need your help! I’m involved in the process of redesigning the ra-info.org website and I’m stuck about what to emphasize and how.

It would be a tremendous help to me if you-all could take a look at it and tell me:

1. If this is the first time you have seen it or if you have seen it before
2. What you think is the most important aspect of the website. That is, if I were a salesman (oops salesperson), what should I push?
3. Bonus points – what isn’t there that you would find helpful and interesting.

Put it on the comments page so others can see what you think and be inspired to participate. If that’s too public, use the “contact us” page on ra-info.org or write rahome@ra-info.org.

I think that your feedback will jump-start my mind.

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After a long absence, my deep dark depression came back, uninvited, on Monday. I woke up, poured some coffee, and found that all I could do all day long, except eat, was play one of those on-line match-three games. I hoped that twenty would be the last level, but oh no, it goes right up to fifty. I’m at forty-one by now. I have played it for so many hours that I see the little symbols when I shut my eyes.

It took a while to identify this mood as depression. The clue was when little wispy thoughts of suicide started drifting into my mind. Soft suggestions, non-violent methods, so tempting. I knew from past episodes that they would get stronger, more insistent, and more violent in nature. Been there, done that, no desire to go there again.

So I called my therapist and asked for an extra telephone appointment, which I never do. I told her my game plan; to pretend I wasn’t getting depressed and do what I usually would do, like it or not. And if that didn’t work within a week, arrange for a meds consult.

I’ve been on meds for ages, and I am very grateful for them. All the healthy living and talk therapy in the world didn’t make a dent in my depression, but anti-depressant meds, have been miracle drugs for me. I started with tricyclics in the seventies and progressed to serotonin-uptake inhibitors and then Wellbutrin, a dopamine uptake inhibitor. I know they don’t work for everybody, and I am so very grateful they work for me. I’m not so grateful for the extra eighty pounds they packed on me, but it was better to be fat than dead.

I’m also grateful that each new type of anti-depressant had fewer side effects than the others because those tricyclics hit me like a rhinoceros tranquilizer.

My therapist has a lot of faith in me, and, at first, she told me reassuringly that everybody she knew who was cooped up at home was depressed. I didn’t calm down. I just *knew* this was more than a reactive depression. I’ve had those too, of course, and they didn’t come with waves of gale-force suicidal ideation.

I still vividly remember days of rocking for hours with emotional pain and living with visions of ways to kill myself. Knives, large bottles of aspirin, driving my car into a tree. The images would appear in my dreams and linger all day. I refused to give in to them and end the pain because I could not do that to the people who loved me. I just couldn’t, but oh, did I want to!

It isn’t an option today either, because there still are people on this earth who love me and would be devastated if I killed myself. Some would feel guilty and think they could have stopped me. Some would blame the cult and be furious that they had won after all these years. I just can’t do it.

I don’t blame anybody for my depression. Nobody set out on purpose to give me a life-long depression, simply because they didn’t know how to. I think it’s a combination of genetics, which gave me a predisposition to react to stress in this way, and early childhood environment. During the years when my brain was developing the fastest, I was flooded with stress hormones. When I was a kid, nobody knew of the existence of stress hormones, let alone what they did to an immature brain. Todays’s research, however, shows that prolonged stress generates depression.

So there you go! I have an explanation. I have an answer to the question that haunted me for thirty years, “What is the matter with me?”

And I think I have an answer to the question, “What can I do about this stupid depression?” Because, frankly, I have no desire to suffer stoically.

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UPCOMING HOLIDAYS

April
4/10 Good Friday
4/11 Holy Saturday
4/12 Easter Sunday
4/26 Grand Climax/De Meur
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve

May
5/1 Beltane
5/7 Full moon
5/10 Mothers’ Day
5/25 Memorial Day
5/31 Pentacost

June
6/5 Full moon
6/5-6 Penumbral lunar eclipse. The moon will turn a shade darker during the maximum phase, visible in Asia, Australia, Europe, and Africa. Most penumbral lunar eclipses cannot be easily distinguished from a usual full moon. See https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2020-june-5
6/19 Summer solstice
6/21 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Annular solar eclipse. Visible from parts of Africa (including the Central African Republic, Congo, and Ethiopia,) south of Pakistan, northern India; and China. Partial eclipse is visible in south/east Europe, much of Asia, the north of Australia, and much of Africa, Pacific, Indian Ocean. See https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2020-june-21
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/24 St. John’s Day

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
4/12 Hitler’s alternate birthday (Note: Hitler was born on Easter, so Nazis celebrate his actual birthday, 4/20, and his alternate birthday, on Easter of the current year. This year Easter falls on 4/12.)
4/20 Hitler’s birthday
4/21  Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)
4/29 Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day)
5/8 V-E Day (Victory in Europe, WW2)
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in WW2
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes.)