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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Best Depression post ever--again

Allie, blogger of Hyperbole-and-a-Half, did a post about depression about a year and a half ago that was such a spot on description of what depression (not sadness  not the blues, not a bad day...real, clinical depression) feels like as it creeps up on you and becomes debilitating.  And I thought that i was the best post on depression that had ever been done, resonates with those of us who have experienced life affecting depression, and is descriptive enough for people who have not experienced it to have a much clearer understanding of what their family and friends who do have clinical depression experience.  A very good introduction to depression for those who want to understand it better--and one that will make you laugh (unless you are in the unable to feel anything phase of depression).

However, I was blown away today by the amazing post by Allie that has arrived over a year and a half after her initial depression post.  If anyone could describe the experience of being depressed and of being unable to feel or access emotion better, I have never see it.  Her followup post about this horrible topic is even more spot-on than the first, and will make you want to both laugh and cry (if you are able to).  So I encourage all of you who struggle with depression to read it and know you are not alone, and that there is hope even if you don't care about having hope at this point.  And for all the rest of you, READ IT, because someone in your life was, is now, or will someday be struggling with this level of depression in their lives.  1 in 4 people struggle with it at some point int heir life.

 For some it is a one time struggle, for others of us, it is a challenge that has its ebb and flow throughout our life.  I fall into the latter, though have been blessed with the family, therapists, friends, spiritual teachers, bloggers, online connections, and other  loved ones who have all helped in some way to help me find my path and to recognize when I need to step back and take care of myself.

Depression is not a friendly struggle, it is not like a the common cold that comes, makes you a little under the weather for a while and then leaves.  It is more insidious than that.  It lies under the surface, and takes daily practices to help keep it from growing, letting it lay there without focusing on it, just let it be, while making sure other things that bring satisfaction fill the space above it so it can not raise its head.  Instead remembering daily to focus on the good in life, to express gratitude, to see the wonder of every day--even if it is a crappy day or one that makes you so stressed out that you have a little tantrum at the end of the day and throw an empty beer can into the yard. It takes making sure you get enough sleep, enough good food (and less junk), enough time and space to yourself, and enough time and space shared with others.  It takes making sure there are things in your life that have meaning to you--be it volunteering, gardening, raising poultry, playing with children, watching a movie, playing games, making music, taking a walk, enjoying nature, or just meditating on the things around you.  It takes learning how to breathe to keep in balance, learning to drink water, and remembering to get out and move your body so everything stays stretched out.  Depression is not something you can fight, it is something you have to gently let go and walk a way from gently, grabbing better feeling thoughts, better feeling actions, better feeling connections, so that depression can not hold on to you as strongly.  It takes staying aware of yourself  so that you know when things are starting to get out whack, when depression is trying to grow, and when those stresses in life are getting beyond what the practices you are doing (or have neglected to do) can help manage.

Going from depressed to at peace to even joyous is a process, it does not happen overnight, and falling back into having it control life doesn't happen overnight either.  Knowing that I WANT to feel better, gives me the hope that I can, and the strength to take the baby steps, even feeling just a little bit better can change the world, and the feeling a little bit better and a little bit better....  I am glad that I am not in that place of hopelessness or lack of feeling, that stagnant valley in life with depression where you just  ARE and life just IS and you are just keep going for lack of any reason not to.  I have been there, it is a foggy, gray way to live.  but it is living, which is better than not, and it is temporary even if you have been stuck for a long time. I sometimes wonder if that is how some active addicts feel.  They go to work, they come home, they open a beer, the play their games, because that low lying depression just has a hold and will not let go.  Beer (or whatever else) just keeps it at bay, lets they stay in the same pattern they have been--one of survival, but not thriving, one of numbness where they don't have to think about things that hurt (like past trauma or lost loved ones or broken dreams), they just want to keep going.  IT becomes a habit and they get stuck, and don't know how to even want something different, to want something more, something that can help them thrive an soar.  I know about stuck, I know about going through the motions day after day, month after month, year after year--with pockets of hope, with pockets of the idea that something can be better.  But until you deal with the hooks that hold you to depression--be it the actions we do that are actually mal-adaptive coping mechanisms  or the experiences that pushed up into need to cope that we got stuck with the cope and never brought the experience to resolution, or even just the belief about ourselves that we don't server more--or all three hooks (usually it takes addressing all three--the actions we do that keep us where we are, the experiences that led us to take those actions, and the way we feel about ourselves and our own worth), until you can loosen those hooks, until you WANT to loosen those hooks and enter the unfamiliar territory of hope and joy and LIFE, depression keeps its hold.  And I have to say that Allie has it spot on, that sometimes something so small and seemingly insignificant can break the fog, and bring in some rays of sunshine.  And the process towards healing begins... I wish you all a shriveled piece of corn under the fridge... may you find that life might be worth it, and even possibly that joy might be worth it too...because the truth is YOU are worth it...