Depression is a formidable opponent.
That is of course, assuming that you notice and accept that depression is present at all. For me depression is like the duller twin of anxiety- dulled as in the lack of sensation. But honestly … I had ranked these conditions in my head and given anxiety a higher status than depression. Anxiety was less embarrassing to me. Basically it translated as: “You worry too much and you just can’t calm down well.” Depression, on the other hand, felt shameful. I translated it as: “Really? – you can’t find anything to be happy about?” But here I am watching as the “Winter Blues” season approaches, clueless that I was already in my indigo funk. I was feeling sullen but not miserable, functional but listless about my personal life. As much as I had judged and avoided it, I had to just admit to myself that I was actually experiencing depression (and sometimes I was still pretty anxious too). In fact I have regularly experienced depression but try to hide it, deny it to myself, or I try to focus more on my anxiety. But it feels better now to just “come out” about it.
Anxiety and depression often function together and not separately. In my experience, anxiety requires one to center oneself and calm down (not ever as easy as it seems). Alternately, depression requires pulling oneself up out of the mire; revving up into hope and out of despair. Despair. Despair is what can make mental health challenges overwhelming and cumbersome. The despair of depression may feel like persistent hopelessness . But with anxiety, excessive worry can lead to panic or to despair… the hopelessness that things we worry about won’t work out. When we are in despair, it FEELS impossible to come out of it.
It is not impossible, but it sure does seem like it, sometimes.
Depression is a formidable opponent; BUT it is NOT impossible to overcome. Breaking through depression requires that simultaneously, we be WILLING TO MEND (this can sometimes feel like forcing oneself, but that’s okay) and that we be GENTLE AND CARING to oneself. To work through my own depression, I had to give myself permission to lay in the bed and do nothing so my body and mind could rest and heal. I had to lie in the bed without guilt when there were chores and cleaning today, people waiting on me or calling me, and a running to-do-list of work tasks. I had to be there and get clear on what I really need most and what I was feeling. Sometimes this can take days, or weeks, or months.
On the other hand, I had to be willing to mend and to add a little force. I sometimes had to force the bathing and eating. Or make effort to consume lots of water and fresh veggies. Sometimes I would muster up a lot of force and go walk or exercise for 15-30 minutes because I knew the endorphins would automatically change my situation. This might only happen once a week, but I fight for it. Every day, even in the pain of depression or anxiety I try to find something to be grateful for. The gratitude work is transformative. Stopping to smile, because the sun came through the clouds on a dreary day, can be quite soothing. I also try to laugh or watch a funny movie if I can pull myself out of the slump for a moment. If I can’t “unslump” myself I am learning to call a safe person to help me pull myself up. And ultimately, I ride it out because I know that depression can last a few days or a season and that this is okay (and it never lasts forever). I don’t worry too much about judgement from others (i.e. happy people) but here is a great post with good practical suggestions and some nice “snarkiness” if you need such a boost! I have definitely felt many of these and benefitted from a lot of the suggestions.
These things are small steps, but depression is a formidable opponent that requires determination and patience. It can seem impossible to “get up” quickly (or get up at all) in the midst of despair. Absent of hope there is often no will to try or exert effort. This is what I know. But I also know that big, scary, difficult things are best overcome piece by piece, step by step, breathe by breathe healing IS POSSIBLE. Coming out of depression is possible. Feeling better, feeling good, feeling healthy IS POSSIBLE and it is within our reach. I am not alone, nor are you. I am willing to mend and take difficult painful steps to get out of depression. I am!
Daily affirmation for gratitude:
Things that make me fall out laughing no matter how low I am feeling:
and the “f$&k it” face on this dog right here… priceless!