Something I have been thinking about lately – out of necessity – has been my livelihood situation. After this last episode of depression and hospitalization I was unable to return to my job, a very stressful occupation that I am sure contributed to my emotional demise. This isn’t the first job I have lost relative to my depression, nor the second. But this time around it feels as if there was some “tipping point” that I reached, some intangible level of coping that, once surpassed, has left me very vulnerable to stressors and life challenges.
Depression wise, I have greatly improved over the last several months. I am certainly no longer severely depressed. In talking with my therapist, it occurs to me that most of my issues at this time center more around anxiety than active depression (I’ll discuss anxiety vs. depression in a future blog post). I don’t see myself as disabled or handicapped by depression, but I am very leery of being pushed over the edge again, and it feels like the threshold for that happening has been greatly lowered.
I came across some information that discusses vulnerability for depression (as opposed to risk factors; yet another future post topic, upcoming soon). In a doctoral dissertation by Catharina Elisabeth Wang entitled “Depression and Cognitive Vulnerability,” Wang indicates that there is about a 50% chance that someone who has had one episode of depression will go on to have at least one subsequent depressive episode. And people with two or more prior episodes are 70-80% likely to have additional episodes.
Not to seem fatalistic, but as I have stated elsewhere, I do not foresee having a time in my life where I can consider myself “cured” of depression. While I try not to sit around waiting for the next depressive episode to arrive, I do indeed feel very vulnerable to a recurrence.
There’s no way to keep stress out of my life, it is inherent in living. And there is no form of livelihood that is stress free. So what’s going to happen? I don’t know. Maybe I need to go back to fortifying and practicing my faith that things are going to work out somehow. Vulnerability is a very good motivator for faith, it seems.
The important thing for me to acknowledge is that, despite being vulnerable, I am not a victim. I am hobbling now, but my ankle will heal. It may be more susceptible to strain, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never run again. I may need to live with depression for the rest of my life, but I don’t need to succumb to it in any way. I am in this moment healing, and this is the moment that matters.
Now, if only the coffee shop would deliver…