Three years ago, I would not have dared start a series such as this. No, I take that back. I might have started such a series, but it would have been from the outside looking in. Having wrestled with depression for a while now, all I can do is share some of my methods for dealing with my depression when it taps me on the shoulder. So, from time to time, you may see these types of posts on this blog.
I have learned to muffle the audience I give to my depression. Depression whispers something in your ear and it sounds as if it represents reality in the moment. But I have come to realize that it is representing a distorted reality that will soon pass.
I remember when depression first hit my sister Angie. All she could say was “This is just how I am now. This is just the way it is going to be from now on.” I could not understand how she could evaluate her entire future without any regard to the past. She was never this way before, why was she so certain that this current pain was to define the rest of her existence? However, I now know what a deceiver depression is. It is very easy when I am depressed to think that this is just the way that I am. This is reality. That is what eventually took her life.
The panic that “it will always be this way” brings about only serves to intensify the depression, making its bouts prolonged. It is not merely the robbing of joy that is the issue, but it is the robbing of hope. I can deal with life without joy for a time. But once hope is gone, life is unbearable.
Now, I do my best to keep my mind from going there. Often I just have to ignore the forecast depression gives if I am going to function.
How do I do this? It is not easy. Most of the time, I just have to go about the business of the day. Routine and responsibilities that go unneglected are a friend. But that is the catch-22. Routine and responsibilities are often the first things that go out the door when depression comes. On the other hand, sitting around, thinking about it, giving it the audience it is calling for are the worst things I can do.
Here are some things I try to ignore:
“Hey, just think about me.”
“Don’t get out of bed; things are too bad.”
“This is just the way it is.”
“Don’t go exercise; this is not a time for exercise.”
“Your life is really tough, Michael. You deserve to be down.”
There is now a separate volume control in my head. I put a Post-It label on it: “Depression.” I am learning to turn it down when begins to sound.