Hia RD, (I'm changing your name in my mind to "Ready Days"),
I am so glad you posted today. I kept checking for you. Your life just went deep in me and all that you've made of your life, impressed me so very much, that it was a little hard to forget.
Yes, Volunteer work is the greatest thing on earth, as dry and you mentioned.
When I had a Lyme disease plus a max-stress break-down in 94, the first thing I did, out of gratefulness to regain my "sanity", was to Found a Volunteer Help Org (mostly for the elderly to help with chores they couldn't do, so they could stay living in their own homes) for my own town. I felt and wrote, that "if each town took care of their own, just think what could happen ?"
I went to Town Council meetings (I was shy before the breakdown :), and fought for the Seniors and to make the School Zone safer. Called State Rep.s, Lawyers, even the Governor. I became an actual activist at 43 years old.
When the Town responded by buying a Speed Monitor in front of the school and put yellow flashing lights up, and then flashing light School Zone signs, I almost did a back-flip.
And the Governor moved on the request for our Seniors and the State Rep too.
And mind you ... I "sound" like a 5 year old because my voice froze when I was 10 ... so imagin a 5'2'' lady with that voice, accomplishing anything ? But as they say ... 'Just One Person' can change lots of things. (or something like that - ha)
Then when we moved down here, Nursing Homes and the elderly were still my passion. I worked there and also volunteered on days off. And I can't overstate enough, how helping them did more help for me, than any other "depression" treatment out there.
I'll only give you a nutshell of the story of my background, so as not to belabor that part.
My Mom left us 5 kids and my Dad, who was a saint, when I was 2 months old.Dad couldn't find anyone to "stay" at the house, while he worked 2 jobs to support us, except a Couple that would only watch the school age boys. So I had to be shipped out. By time I was 13, I was in my 5th home. Mentally abused from about 9 yr.s old on. I left home as soon as I could and joined the military. Met a man, that I married that 'seemed' to all and me to be Prince Charming. Well, 'PC' only married me for my paycheck. He didn't work and put me in the hospital with his physical, etc. abuse. I got an annulment .... then married a "Minister", with whom, I thought I'd be 'safe'. Well, let's just say, there are some men that should never get married, because they love every woman in the world.
So I was on home #7 now, where I felt unwanted, unloved, and mentally abused.
Then I get disabled, and can't get to the Nursing Home anymore.
But ... I've made it ... I've fought and won against depression. There's a lot more to the above story, but that's not necessary right now.
I must also explain though ... I wasn't just fighting the past, but my mother's genes (she left because she had a breakdown), and I, foolishly tried unhealthy substances as a teen (trying to find love in all the wrong places) and then had CFIDS and Late-Neuro Lyme ... both of which do Organic damage to your brain and CNS and cause organic depression. I've not needed anti-depressants, but because of all of the above, have battled anxiety, so take a very low dose of a tranquilizer only. (Other meds are for the Lyme/CFIDS)
I relate to what you've said, about nothing that you do seems good enough. I've had that 'perfectionist anxiety' too, because of 2 of the homes I was in, "nothing I did was good enough".
I started studying Psychology when I was 12 .... so I reckon, if it weren't for the Lyme contributing in '94, I've basically Counseled myself, from my own Research and self-talks. And some very dear friends.
I got a job in a Hospital as a Nurse's Aide when I was 16 and used my money to get a subscription to Psychology Today Mag. Ha-this was in 1969. From it ... I ordered a ton of books, so by time I was 18, I had some-kinda Library. That desire to want to help people since young, has kept me going RD.
You are so blessed to have that nature in you to want to HELP.
I've found, that those with that nature, seldom 'stay' down for long. We all as humans, for the history of mankind, have had seasons of depression or sadness ... but everyone I've ever met, with that "Nature for Others", has never stayed down. It takes "turning inward" or coccooning to do that. Somehow, True Compassion neutralizes "self" from turning inward. To put it bluntly :) Compassion in Action brings Joy and neutralizes Depression. How can the two co-exist ? [Big Smile]
If you could read two books, I think you'd like Reality Therapy by William Glasser and The Myth of Neuosis by Dr. ? Wood. A Library may be able to tract them down for you or a search on the Internet. They're old but still in use, in the 'good' circles of Psychology.
God Bless you RD and I sure do look forward to hearing more about your adventures. Even if it's just a trip to the Mall with the girls :)