Connection, Lynch Syndrome, Mental Health, Trauma

Finding My ‘Reason’ Again in the Midst of Depression

Trust the journey. Trust yourself, Dianne. Trust.

I kept telling myself this. I needed to trust. And to draw from everything I’ve learned so far when I was in a funk this past fall. When I was depressed. Yes, I’ll say the word that people sometimes have a hard time saying: I was “depressed.”

2022 was a really hard year for me with initial Lynch Syndrome screenings and related surgeries; a long bout of Covid; continuing, successive and confusing joint issues and pain constantly interfering with my hopes of finding physical strength and fitness again; and a persnickety digestive system continuing to fight me after 20 years as I tried to begin eating not just to prevent inflammation and keep “in check” the general health issues I have, but now to prevent cancer specifically, as well.

To top it off, this fall I began (finally) grieving the loss of my Mom, who died 10 years ago this month from brain cancer. In therapy, I’ve been peeling back the layers on the trauma onion to process things not processed. This year I finally reached the Dad layer, and then my Mom. … Processing these additional traumas and grief is a good thing, but a hard thing on top of everything else.

Can’t I just stick my head back in the sand, please? And not feel everything? Can’t I just put the walls back up?

… And this year followed several other hard years in succession: The sexual assault; acute PTSD; the court cases stemming from the local serial predator who attacked me; a knee injury and surgery; the pandemic and the world changing; too much isolation; social circles changing as a result of the pandemic and that trauma; political instability in our country … . On and on. One year after another of hard things.

When am I going to catch a break?

When are WE going to catch a break? Right? I KNOW that I’m not the only one who feels this way, if we are all being honest about it.

And so this fall I got tired of it all and went into what I called “Fuck-It” mode.

I started emotionally eating like crazy, eating sugar and pretty much anything else I felt like eating. (The only thing I didn’t do is drink because I’m not a drinker to begin with and alcohol is super hard on my gut and gives me immediate, unpleasant sensitivity symptoms. There’s no fun in it for me. Thank goodness.)

I was defiant. I was tired. And I just wanted to eat like a “normal” person without my body revolting.

I told my primary care physician this at my physical in early November, and she chastised me, “Dianne, you REALLY have to take care of yourself.” (Meaning because of my predisposition for cancer.) I wanted to shout back, “You think I don’t fucking know that?”

I was so frustrated with everything, and I had lost my “reason.” My reason for moving forward. And I was stuck. And I was depressed.

I needed and craved to find that “reason” again. You know what I mean? That reason for getting up in the morning and for taking care of my body. For doing the work. For seeking joy. For achieving outward purpose and personal meaning.

But here’s the thing. There’s certain growth and wisdom that come from age and experience and trauma and life. I have been in this place before a number of times; maybe not this exact place, but similar. And I’ve always found my way out. And I can tell you: Fighting it doesn’t help. You can’t fight your way out of depression. (Or get out of it by punishing yourself for the things you eat.)

You have to love and nurture your way out of it, with patience. And trust. Do a bunch of small things that gradually fill you up. And know – trust – that this particular season will end, and that you will feel better again. Because big emotions don’t last forever. And the “Fuck-It” period will run its course. And the emotional eating will subside.

And you will start again.

As I wrote recently in one of my poems:

“… Hold on, dear.
Listen to the waves and energy
of your own growth, your path.
The pattern. It’s coming …

The good is circling back around
to find you once again.

And catch you by surprise
with its light reignited.”

I wrote that for you. I wrote that for myself.

I started to find my reason again on the beach in late November during a badly needed (obviously, right?) vacation to visit my sister. It was after several days of sister time, and I went out for a walk alone along the water’s edge and found my heart beating in rhythm with the crashing waves, and the peace, and the curiosity from exploring the near-empty beach with all its sea treasures. I began to find myself again. With Connection, but also with this time alone in Nature. Water. Earth. Exploration. These things feed me. Feed my soul.

Over the last few weeks I’ve filled myself up gradually with connections with friends and family, the beauty and sense of generosity during the holiday season (which I love), self-care through counseling and some body work, art and writing. And, as well, I’ve allowed myself to weep for my Mom. That wall which erected itself in my chest 10 years ago, “protecting” me, has come down. That, too, is self-care.

And finally, about a week and a half ago, I woke up one morning and decided spontaneously to cut out sugar again. And so I did. Because I was ready. Because my emotional tank was getting fuller.

Because I had found my reason again.

Because I trusted myself that I would.

And this is what STRONG is.

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Wishing you love, peace and sparks of joy wherever you are on your healing journey. It is my wish with all that I do and all that I write about for you to know that you are not alone.