(Note added later: This is a long post. I almost didn’t finish it but I decided to keep going, just in case anyone else was feeling the same way I was when I started it. I’m posting without checking for errors so please forgive those if you should find them.)
A while back, I wrote a post about imagination. And, it is true a good imagination can be a wonderful thing.
However, in the last few days my wonderful imaginative process has been bombarding me with many, many “what if” scenarios that are not very good or very nice.
I probably should have prefaced this post by saying that I’m a recovered depressive. Recovered, because I have overcome what once was most likely severe clinical depression. It wasn’t easy, but I defeated the depression monster many years ago.
However, even though I’ve filled in what were once the deep pits of despair with the fertile topsoil of hope doesn’t mean that that monster doesn’t try to rear its ugly head now and again. Usually, I’m able to beat it back. But these last few days have been hard.
It doesn’t help that everywhere you look there are images of chaos. And, I could feel it trying to jab at my defenses. Except my defenses were down. And, that monster broke through, farther than I should have let it.
(OK, so the picture above is actually of a giant pile of manure. However the analogy isn’t lost on me so I’ll run with it.)
What depression spews at us is in reality a giant pile of manure. Yep. All of its little jabs and insults. All those images of bad things that could happen that it throws at you–All of it–It’s cr*p. How depression wins is to make you believe that it’s not cr*p so that it sticks with you and weighs you down.
And, I’m not saying that bad things can’t happen or that when they do it’s not real. Nor that one shouldn’t feel sadness when it’s warranted. I’m not saying that. Just that it’s the reaction to those things and events that depression tries to make much worse in order to gain a foot-hold.
What set it off in me of late was that:
- I realized that my long-awaited and looked-forward-to travel plans might not actually materialize.
- I’ve been holding back a storm of emotions as a result of the election, which has added to my disappointment and sadness.
- My ability to help my mom on a daily basis through her chemotherapy and fight with cancer is quickly coming to an end, since I have to go back to work to be able to pay the bills.
- There is so much uncertainty floating around the country, and now floating around my thoughts as well.
All of those things washed over me. I let my defenses down and spurred the monster of depression in to action. I allowed the ugly monster to sling manure once again.
And it stuck. It worked … for too long a time. So much so, that I started and stopped this blog post several times.
And while I was looking for graphics to illustrate this post, I came across some that made me laugh and some that reminded me of a time in my life that was awesome. With that laughter, I also remembered my strategy for beating down the monster.
(And I remembered that I should stop watching the news on TV, or any “breaking news” items that bombard me online. Too much of that negativity will mess you up.)
It helped. It helped me to put the monster back in its place.
In case you’re feeling down about the way things are too, I’ll share it with you.
One Good Thing.
Think of One Good Thing.
Something you’ve read.
A favorite book or poem.
Something you’ve seen or heard.
A favorite show or movie that makes you laugh.
Something that inspires you.
A beautiful piece of art.
A kindness. A hug.
Take that one good thing and embrace it. Feel how nice it makes (or made) you feel. Let it remind you that there are good things out there for you to experience. Let it remind you that you are worthy of feeling good and that you are a beautiful soul.
It might not be easy at first but try to find one good thing. And then another. And another. You can journal about it/them–write them down to help you remember them. Put them in a mental piggy bank full of good things as you gather them. It might take a while but don’t give up. Keep adding to that bank until it’s filled to overflowing.
At the same time, cross out each negative thought. Push negative thoughts slung at your by that depression monster out of your mind and replace them with one good thing after another.
That’s how I began my recovery from depression so long ago. And as I started feeling lighter, I made myself available to have experiences that were good and real. I ventured into real life looking for good things to hold on to. I made new friends who lifted me up. Read books that inspired me. Got interested in drawing and creating art. One good thing at a time.
And, by all means if this method doesn’t get you far enough, if you just can’t do it alone, please find someone to talk to. Professional help is out there if you are willing to reach out for it. Although I battled my depression on my own, there have been times in my life when talking things out with a psychologist really helped me. I wouldn’t hesitate to seek out such help if I needed it again.
There are sites online that are free, if cost is an issue. And of course, if things are getting to be too overwhelming, get professional help quickly. If you feel like doing something extreme, please call the 24-hr National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. Or if you prefer, visit the website at http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/#
If you are a member of the LGBTQ community and need someone to talk with visit the website at http://www.thetrevorproject.org/ Or as the website says, “If you’re thinking about suicide, you deserve immediate help – please call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386.”
Here’s another site that looks promising. I haven’t had any experience with it but I thought I’d include it here: 7 Cups https://www.7cups.com/
Whatever way you choose to battle depression, take the first step. Don’t let the depression monster win.
Wishing you light and love,