I’ve been doing so well lately. This year of therapy has taught me to slow down and assess my thoughts to see if they correspond with reality (many times, they don’t) and I’ve been able to gain such freedom in that. I no longer feel maniacally pushed to participate in the never-ending, without-winner race of people-pleasing. It’s beginning to make sense that I cannot complete every single task that needs to be done, either at home or at work, within the confines of a normal day. In short, there is a sense of balance and peace in my life that had been sorely lacking for quite some time.
That’s why these last few days have been so hard. Looking back on the progress I’ve made, it comes as a shock to have a wave of depression splash all over me. There’s nothing I can link it to. No one traumatic or even upsetting event has happened in the last few weeks. No disquieting memories have charged in to torment me.
I’m just clinically depressed. I have fluctuations in my brain chemistry that make me feel sad sometimes.
I could let that control me. I could stay in bed. I could allow myself to get hysterical.
When dealing with depression, I am learning that it is important to continue on living. To someone in the deepest recesses of the pit of despair, that sounds impossible – but it isn’t. Living doesn’t mean ignoring the hurt. It doesn’t mean that taking a nap isn’t allowed. What it does mean is that you make the conscious decision to do something, anything, that pulls you out of the gloom and into the light. This is much, much simpler than you might think. Here is what living has looked like for me since last Friday:
1. Got out of bed at a decent time.
I know how tempting it is to sleep the day away, especially if you have other medical issues. While rest is an important component of dealing with depression, it can become yet another thing that drags you down. Sleep in if you need to, but don’t let it get out of hand. You won’t feel any better.
2. Made the bed every day.
I’m serious. I feel worse when I don’t stay on top of the daily tasks of housekeeping. I realize that clean has a different meaning for each of us, but a chaotic house = a chaotic mind, heart and soul. You can’t focus and you feel overwhelmed. This doesn’t work for me. I’m too messy on the inside; I don’t need a mess on the outside.
3. Took a shower every day.
I’m not kidding. If all you do in a day is make your bed and take a shower, then you’ve accomplished something. You’ll know it and so will anyone who lives with you. It is HUGE to be able to say, “I did _______ and _______.”
4. Had my husband paint my nails.
What is more masculine than a man knowing when and how to take care of his wife? I respect Chris for being willing to step out of his comfort zone in order to help and encourage me. It’s great to look down and see a nice pop of bright pink adorning my toenails!
5. Took a walk.
For me, this meant taking my time with the grocery shopping. I tried to stretch and tighten tired muscles. I admit: I need to do this every day. Exercise is an area in which I am continually unbalanced.
6. Soaked in God’s presence.
Prayed. Asked Him to remind me of His love. Perused the Psalms and found verses that spoke to my heart. Delved into a good, meaty Bible study.
7. Spent time with friends.
I went to a birthday party for an 8-year-old. I’m glad I did.
8. Played cards with my family.
My brother turns 25 today, and we gathered for a celebratory dinner and round of Shanghi. I don’t like card games, and I especially don’t like that one. Still, I was blessed to be with those I love and to see my brother enjoy himself.
Am I feeling like I’ve conquered the mountain today? Not by a long shot. I keep looking up and wondering when I’m going to be at the top. Someday. Until then, I have to keep choosing. I have to put myself out there and remember that there is more than the black cloud inside my head. There is love. There is joy. There is hope.
There is life.
For all the posts in the What Depression Means to Me series, go here.