Stress put me in the hospital two years ago. First, pneumonia put me in the hospital for a week. Then, following a diagnosis of clogged arteries with other assorted problems, open heart surgery. Cardio/rehab for 24 straight weeks gave me my life back. But this was not my first experience with stress and /or depression.
Nietzsche had it right. In my case at least. What made me stronger and saved my life was not only heart surgery but my new way of dealing with stress. I now see stress for the trouble maker that it really is. The stress in anyone’s, continues to impress me how dangerous living under stress, of any kind, can be.
I know that the daily stress that I had put my mind and body through every day, every month, gradually destroyed my immune system’s ability to defend against constant fear, worry and anxiety. Because of the environment with which I was living in, day after day, finally caught up with me: pneumonia and then open heart surgery. So you might wonder how can stress do all this damage to your mind and body?
This takes me back to my first experience with sadness. It didn’t kill me, but it did force me to look at my lifestyle, staying in a bad situation and the ongoing ruminating which poured adrenaline into my veins, hyping up fear and anxiety day after day. Finally, all this weakened not only my body but my mind as well. My thinking started circling around and around as I tried to figure out exactly what the problem was knocking me off my feet. Not only that, I couldn’t concentrate. I would read a sentence or so and then would forget what I had just read. I was always tired. I always wanted to sleep. I never laughed anymore. My sense of humor went out the door. I started to isolate. I pushed friends away. I always had an excuse for cancelling meetings and appointments. Every morning I woke up, dead on arrival. No energy. No purpose and nothing to look forward to. I was losing all spontaneity and replacing it with boredom. I gradually was being sucked down intro the quicksand of futility and hopelessness.
After a year and half of this pain filled life I gradually walked out of the fog. I walked at least five miles a day-like a forced march looking forward to regaining my life. That was 1985.
Now, I am stronger because I know all the red flags that pop up in my mind, wanting to suck me back down into that environment which almost killed me in the first place. I am definitely stronger now that I have a sponsor, a 12 Step program (Depressed Anonymous) and a daily plan for my ongoing recovery.
My heart is stronger now. My commitment to taking good care of myself with proper rest, good healthy food, and physical activity at least three times a week or more. I also know that keeping in touch with those “still suffering from depression” by email, Home Study, website BLOG (depressedanon.com), phone and reading Depressed Anonymous literature. What we give away comes back in countless ways. For me, continued sobriety and hope!
Resource: (c) Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville, KY.
Online Depressed Anonymous International Skype meetings ( Check website Menu for listing and links).
Order online: The Depressed Anonymous Publications Bookstore