Depression and Memory Changes

Had a somewhat painful memory recently where I realized I could no longer visualize the face of my ex-wife or her boyfriend (a one time friend). Some folks tried to reassure me that it was a sign I was starting to move on. Personally I wonder if it’s just a variation of PTSD or memory repression at work.

What was once the face I woke up seeing, is now sort of just a generic silhouette. I mostly just associate the thoughts of my married life with nothing more than pain and a sense of loss. It’s hard to look forward to the future when anhedonia has stripped the sense of joy or happiness from you.

I’ve kept up with my therapy and trying a different fitness routine that I hope will be more consistent but I’m still not sure what other things I can do to improve situations. Given that this weekend I started to feel the effects of a cold I’ve tried to improve my diet and eating habits. I may have to work on making a batch of homemade yogurt, that helped with my gut and overall fatigue.

Depression — Loss of Identity

Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve had to adjust to in my depression has been the sensation of a loss of identity. There’s several articles that you can browse online on the subject but the core of it is that as depression affects you your sense of self disappears.

It was something that my ex-wife vocalized; painfully so; that she was shocked at how I could be in my 30’s and not know who I was. It’s difficult for folks who haven’t experienced a serious degree of depression or felt their identity become dependent upon someone else. For me I used to define myself by my interests, my skills, my own sense of right/wrong. Over time through my marriage as depression weighed on me more, I lost a lot of the fire I had in the things that made me, me.

Recovering has been a slow process, not an easy one by any stretch. Waking every morning and looking in the mirror trying to understand the person looking back at you can be unsettling. In some ways I’ve felt like I’ve regressed to the person I was in my college days. A man alone, vulnerable, angry and full of negative emotions. I’ve taken to activities that I can still sink my teeth into but I’ve had to give up those things which remind me of my married life. Instead of art, I’ve gone from shooting things with a camera to shooting at a gun range. The focus and discipline of shooting (an activity I enjoyed in my youth) has helped me block out negativity and since I’m able to see gradual improvement gives me something to strive for.

Everyone’s path to finding themselves is different, there’s no one-size-fits all answer. I wish there were, it would make the process so much more linear but it isn’t. Each day all I can hope is that I find a little bit more of myself and maybe then I can look back on these less happy moments as stepping stones.

Depression and Helping Your Partner Cope

I happened upon this article and thought it was a good suggestion right around Valentine’s Day. A painful aspect of depression stems from the tendency towards doing the opposite of what reflex would tell you to do.

For me I realize when my depression continued to escalate I became harder and harder to live with. The best comparison is being a porcupine. The last thing you want to do is keep that close to you or cuddle it. To both those around the person experiencing depression as well as the person him/herself, instinct gravitates towards the opposite of what should be done. Tenderness is not the first reflex when someone is starting to withdraw or became more irritable than normal.

The most difficult thing about the experience (from the perspective of the depressed person) is that you can’t step out of your own mind and objectively assess what’s happening. You feel as though you want to withdraw from social situations and not seek help.

If you or your significant other are experiencing these types of things, try to take that big leap and objectively look at your circumstances. Reach out, communicate to someone of your pain. It’s the hardest first step, sometimes it can lead to empathy, sometimes confusion, potentially rejection but you have to take it.

The Difficulty of Valentine’s as a Divorcee

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and for me it will be a doubly difficult time. Besides being the second Valentine’s since my marriage ended, I recently lost an aunt to cancer. A lot things as a result have weighed on my mind.

Being single and without someone is hard enough on Valentine’s Day for anyone, for me it’s a painful shot back to a different time of my life. I’ve tried my best to keep busy, reading, the gun range, anything to keep myself engaged in other matters. In many ways I suppose I gravitated immediately towards anti-Valentine’s things such as catching a very non-romantic movie (John Wick 2), reading various sci-fi novels such as Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse) and Netflix binge watching with shows I hadn’t considered before such as Canadian mystery/drama series Murdoch Mysteries.

A lot has been written upon the subject and admittedly most of the suggestions tend towards treating the day as just any other and letting it go past. My first Valentine’s post-marriage occurred in the midst of my divorce. She had moved on and was with someone, making the whole prospect of Valentine’s day that much more unpleasant for me. I buried myself in work and the tasks I needed to address. This time around work isn’t the best option in terms of distraction and so I endeavor to find other releases. Each person has to find something to anchor themselves with. The one thing I can speak upon is that the activity should be something beneficial and not something of a more vice like nature (no drinking to excess etc).

If you find yourself having a difficult time, speak to your health care provider or mental health professional, find something that can engage you and remember to care about yourself as best you can. Hang in there and remember it is a day, one that will pass in due course.

Article – Break Up Pain Felt Differently By Men/Women

I happened upon this article and thought it an interesting read. For myself breakups have always been pretty painful and lingering in nature. Most of my relationships have always been for longer than a year, even just dating. I can attest that be it an issue with putting aside emotional pain or similar, that some of the points of the article may have some merit.

My divorce has definitely hit me unlike anything else, it finds ways to creep into my consciousness more often than any relationship in the past. As noted in the article, sometimes the end of a relationship stews in men. Unhealthy as it may be, I sometimes wonder if it’s due in part to how critical repetition is with men and learning things.

The article gave me pause to think of my own coping tools and the ways that I’ve tried to put the failure of my marriage behind me. Moving forward, particularly while battling back depression has often felt like the emotional equivalent of a mud bog. You charge through but sometimes you get stuck and it takes a while to extricate yourself from the muck.

It was a sobering reminder that recovery can be a drawn out process and that there aren’t really shortcuts. So hang in there if you’re working your way from the fallout of a breakup or divorce.

Finding that Delicate Balance

While most folks spent the weekend enjoying the Superbowl and cheering for the Patriots (or the Falcons) I found myself tucked away in a gun range.

Living with depression and being a firearms owner is not an easy thing. I keep my ammunition and weapons separated at all times. I take stock of my emotional state on a daily basis. My trips to the range are one of the few times I am able to focus and key in on a single point without distraction. Between the eyes and ear protection and a singular target it’s a relaxing thing for me. My interest in firearms, marksmanship and hunting provide an usual foil to my anxiety and depression. While they provide an activity that I can do alone, I must always be vigilant. Firearms and depression rarely mix well but it is possible to find a balance, delicate as it is.

I do feel that folks who may suffer from major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, the idea of firearms is something that must be weighed greatly. When my divorce began I realized the threat of firearms in my immediate vicinity was too great and I turned my weapons over to trusted family friends. It wasn’t until I was comfortable with the thought of having them near me again that I retrieved my weapons.

If you suffer from depression please by all means take measures to insure that you minimize your risk. Turn your weapons over as needed, keep your firearms unloaded, do what needs to be done to prevent self-harm.