Earlier this week, I wrote about being on a new path. I told you about a new focus on treating my chronic depression that would include a new kind of therapy.
I didn’t write about where that new path would take me, though. I didn’t really think about my destination, except for my hope for remission.
Some of you who left comments to that post included references to healing, and my therapist used that word also.
So what would healing look like for me? How would I recognize healing when I saw it?
First of all, I decided that I would view healing as a process and a journey. I know it won’t happen all at once. I won’t wake up one morning and find myself in remission from depression or from obsessive-compulsive disorder. I know healing will never actually end.
I know that depression and OCD will always be with me, but I can work to make them have as little negative impact as possible.
I also decided to keep some words in mind as I journey along. In Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, three synonyms for heal are repair, restore and make whole.
I have ways of being and acting that need to be repaired. I need to be restored to a place where I recognize my very essence and its value. I need my life to be made whole so that all my “parts” are integrated and in harmony.
I am going to use those words to instruct and inspire me.
But what will my life look like as I move towards healing? What markers will tell me I’m moving forward?
During the therapy session when my therapist told me he thought we needed to focus on depression, he grew a diagram for me to give me an idea of where I was headed.
I’m not going into the detail that he did, but here are the basics that he told me.
This diagram looks at power. On the vertical continuum, there’s dominant and passive. Dominance tends to draw out passivity, and passivity tends to draw out dominance.
The intersecting horizontal line represents hostility and friendliness.
Broadly, there are four quadrants: dominant hostility, dominant friendly, passive hostility and passive friendly.
People who are chronically depressed usually spend a lot of time in the passive hostility quadrant.
The quadrants can be divided up. Where my therapist said I would be headed is to a friendly assertive state.
Specifically how would my life look different with depression in remission? Here’s what I came up with:
- I would have interpersonal interactions that were honest and didn’t hurt the other person or myself (by stuffing anger and hurt, by feeling helpless).
- I would be confident that I could handle what life brought to me. People with chronic depression tend to think, “No matter what I do, it won’t help.” I would no longer attend to that kind of thinking.
- I would participate fully in life and do the things that reflect my priorities.
- I would see each day as a gift, not as something I just need to get through.
- I would have the energy to accomplish what I wanted and needed to accomplish.
Sometimes my doctors ask me about my OCD symptoms. What percentage of OCD has been relieved, they ask.
That’s hard to answer. It’s difficult to see my time and my effort in terms of percentages.
So here’s a picture of OCD repaired to the degree that it would no longer control what I do:
- Most days, after doing my best, I wouldn’t check to make sure I’d completed such tasks as turning off the lights, turning off the water faucets, closing the closet door, locking the front door, etc.
- Most days, I would read a book without rereading needlessly.
- Most days, after doing my best, I would let go of my writing without fear of having written something wrong or untrue.
- Most days, I would have no clutter around me because I would have filed away and put away what I needed to.
- Most days, I would be able to cook a meal and clean the kitchen without safety, checking and contamination worries making it nearly unbearable.
- Most days, I would be able to turn my attention away from obsessive thoughts.
- Most days, I would resist compulsive urges to relieve anxiety.
I have generalized anxiety disorder that makes me tense much of the time. My life without the rule of anxiety would look something like this:
- Most days, my jaw would be relaxed.
- Most days, I would face daily stresses and changes with humor and calmness.
- Most days, I would be energetic and not feel drained.
- Most days, I would pay little or no attention to fearful thoughts.
- Most days, I would be able to keep worry at bay.
That’s where I’m headed. I have a lot to do, and I’ll never reach perfection. But that’s OK. I’m not supposed to.
I’m grateful for what I’ve accomplished so far on the journey, andI’m glad to be continuing on the path.
What is your destination? How do think of the journey?