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I think that we all have our personal stories. But not simply one. Our stories can be told from various perspectives. They shift and change as we look back and maybe see new meanings to what happened. The future is an unfolding of novelty - there is always something new under the sun.

Here is a story of mine, posted recently on a Buddhist Forum. The perspective is my own battle with depression/anxiety - I think now that even giving it a name can create confusion. 

Simply cut and paste, no attempt to cut for this particular forum. Maybe others can relate, maybe not.

Cut and paste begins:-

A little while ago, on another forum, I would post what I called "Memos from the Pure Land". I simply rambled on, pretty spontaneous stuff. Talking to myself really. Few seemed to latch onto my sense of humour. I mean......"pure land".....😀

Anyway, this Forum seems the next best thing to talking to myself and elsewhere here I have been encouraged to share anything about mental health issues. Does it relate to the Dharma. Well, of course it does. What doesn't?

Twenty or so years back I never knew the meaning of depression. I suspect that many still don't.......the "go home and pull yourself together" types, the "man up" sort. As I understood it, depression was just feeling a bit low when you had to go back to work after a good holiday. I knew no better (or is it "worse"?)

My dad died. Unable to truly grieve, no time, because my mum was descending into dementia and I was the sole one in the family within distance to help. The poor thing seemed to think she was a little six year old again and she spoke to me as if I was her little sister. I had my own young family, I needed overtime to make ends meet. I was running around like a maniac trying to keep it all together. Then amid it all, a health scare. A lump. Tests, tubes up everywhere. But in the end nothing serious. Others told me to lay back a bit, but at the time I actually felt OK. But when mum died, and some of the pressure was lifted, true depression hit. Impossible to describe unless you have been there.

Two years in which I eventually lost my job (because of having to take so much time off), taking an assortment of pills, medication. Fortunately I had a good young doctor who understood (who has since taken his own life, but that is another story) One day, after two years, the full weight of the depression simply lifted. Literally. I remember the exact time and place. It took about 15 months to kick the medication completely, and daily meditation helped.

For the next ten years or so I was on an even keel. Often a great sense of well being. Positive. Then out of the blue, no particular reason this time, suddenly engulfed in intense anxiety/depression/who knows what.

Back on medication, which helped. And life resumed. Then early this year, feeling "cured" and wondering if I actually needed the medication I was on (paroxetine) , without consulting anyone, I began to cut down. And cut down. All went well for about six weeks, I was down to half a tablet every two days. Felt fine. Then it hit. The next 8 weeks or so were the worst of my life. The NHS crisis helpline. The Samaritans. Other organisations. At one point I simply froze and said: I need help......I meant I would need to be sectioned, taken away. But my dear wife simply thought I was asking for help getting a couple of carrier bags to my daughter's house and then collecting our two grandchildren from school. She said to ring a mate, who would drive me there. I did, he was available, he hung around for a few hours, we talked, I opened my heart a bit. He is a good mate. I just might owe him my life, who knows just how bad it can get. Good friends just might be the Dharma personified.

I'm now back on medication. I've actually had face to face consultations with my GP. But my days are varied. The anxiety or whatever it is shifts and changes like a fog, lifting and dropping back - not like it has always been before, a great weight that simply engulfs you all the time.

And yes, I think of others. I care for my wife, who is far less mobile than myself. She has had one hip replacement (we had to pay privately), one knee (NHS) and has been told the other hip and knee need doing, but finance dictates that it will have to be NHS, which means in effect that they will not be done. I have weekly grandchildren duties. My daughter is a Care Worker and her shifts mean that we have to step in a few days each week, ferrying the grandchildren to school, bringing them back to ours, whatever. Lovely children, 8 (girl) and boy (10), the light of our lives. The buses around here provide a very poor service. It means taxi's both ways.

Others again. I have done a four hour stint at Oxfam for about eight years, even two stints a week just after the Lockdowns when a few volunteers never returned. But the second stint had to stop, what with our rotas involving the grandchildren.

Days spent at a Special Needs Adventure Playground, when my daughter worked there. They were always short of helpers. Then saturday mornings at a Physically Handicapped Sports Centre. Again, about 7 years as an Age Concern Befriender volunteer, popping in to visit those feeling lonely and isolated. This until the funding was pulled by our County Council.

Not seeking applause. As the emperor of China was told by Bodhidharma, when boasting of his good works, and asking what merit he had earned........ "None whatsoever".

Yes, I get it. I really do.

Well, that's it. Sorry to have taken up anyone's time. But I do find rambling on therapeutic. It helps. We live now in a very surreal world. I can barely relate to events around that actually fill the pages of our newspapers.

May true Dharma continue.
No blame. Be kind. Love everything.

Thank you if you have trawled through all this. I can recommend the coffee in McDonalds.

Cut and paste ends.

 

If anyone can relate. Fine.

Thanks

Derek

 

 

 

 

Edited by tariki
Amended strange blob to a Smilie
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Thanks for sharing, Derek. I can totally relate.

Have been in that dark hole myself - spent about a year suffering pretty extreme anxiety and depression to the point that I was thinking I was going to need to kill myself to make it go away.  Obviously I didn't, and with the help of an excellent psychologist, medication, and this Forum - I found my way out of that hole, and after a few years I was more on track.  I'm not plugging any of that as everybody's solution - just what worked for me, at that time, luckily.  Anxiety and depression revisits me a little from time to time, but nothing like that acute period I had starting back in about 2009.

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Hi Paul, sorry to hear it. Never been suicidal myself - that's the first thing the "experts" ask about. 

All things pass. All things can be learnt from but a lot of learning is painful.

All the best.

Derek

 

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44 minutes ago, tariki said:

All things can be learnt from but a lot of learning is painful.

Yes, it was horrible at the time, but it was a learning experience, that's for sure!  And it taught me a lot about empathy and suicide itself.  As a police officer I had been to countless numbers of suicides (car gassings, hangings, jumping in front of trains, shotguns to the head, etc), and I always wondered if the person was brave or gutless to commit that act.  I now realize that they were just in a very dark place that they couldn't get out of, and suicide was their only solution.  Such a waste really.  After I got well I volunteered for the next several years with The Samaritans.

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1 hour ago, PaulS said:

Yes, it was horrible at the time, but it was a learning experience, that's for sure!  And it taught me a lot about empathy and suicide itself.  As a police officer I had been to countless numbers of suicides (car gassings, hangings, jumping in front of trains, shotguns to the head, etc), and I always wondered if the person was brave or gutless to commit that act.  I now realize that they were just in a very dark place that they couldn't get out of, and suicide was their only solution.  Such a waste really.  After I got well I volunteered for the next several years with The Samaritans.

There is no doubt that our own darkest times can become over time a source of light for others. But yes, such a wastage when looked at from most perspectives. 

I spoke of my own GP who took his own life. For twenty years or so he was there when I entered his surgery, pictures of his family on his desk, always a smile. He had to listen to me. So shocking when I read that he had taken his own life. What was there behind the smile? It's one reason why I will often talk now, try to tell it like it is. "We have to do it ourselves, yet we cannot do it alone...." , something like that.

All the best.

 

 

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