I have a wonderful friend who suffers from debilitating depression. So much so, there are days she winds up in hospital because she’s scared she’s going to do something to herself. She is a lovely woman, a beautiful soul and every time this happens, I just wanna pick her up and squeeze her until she feels better.
I wrote her an email yesterday and I tried to differentiate our journeys through depression and it went something like this:
“We have both battled through this our entire lives (sometimes at the same time, sometimes not)…yours seems to be so much more awful than mine and I know that’s your journey – your path, if you will. It seems to take on the flow of a river, that breaks into streams and occasionally you will take the right stream. However, that stream sometimes leads you further into the forest of darkness and so you backtrack – but the light is gone and you’re mired in sadness.”
“I get that. Mine is more like an ocean – it overwhelms me quickly and then it leaves little tide pools behind. I pick and choose which tide pools I want to explore.”
Interesting. I guess it’s like having a broken leg – no two breaks are the same, one might be worse than another, but they’re equally as painful to each person.
The one common denominator, I believe, for most folks with depression, is to try and figure out WHY. WHY they are depressed. WHY they are so sad. WHY they feel the way they do. Some people talk, some people write, some people sit and think. It can be all consuming, in that it is all that person thinks about. Yikes. My friend journals; it’s how she expresses herself – to herself.
Half way through the email I sent, I had an epiphany of sorts…if we spend so much time with all the wondering WHY we are depressed – would that not lead to even more depression? Sitting there and picking apart our lives, our personalities, our traits that make us who we are – and analyzing them to death – has to be counterproductive.
I’m not saying that we should just all suck it up and carry on like nothing is wrong – but what if we were to subliminal message ourselves? For every sad thought we have, we try to insert a positive one?
OH LOOK, I’VE CURED DEPRESSION. Yeah – NO. If it were that simple, all the psychiatrists of the world would be out of business, as would the pharmaceutical companies AND all of those ‘cheer up’ Facebook posts would disappear.
So does ‘wallowing’ in depression make us better people? No, not really; it just makes us sadder people. By spending 24/7 trying to figure it out, we are only feeding the monster of darkness, allowing it to manipulate us and fester within us. It loves nothing more than to tell us how awful things are, how they are never going to get better and how (in some cases, sadly) we’d be better off dead.
My mother was one of those people who lived her life through her depression; and God forbid should that have been taken away from her. It was her weapon of choice; we were all taught at a very young age that mom was depressed; therefore, she should be forgiven for every transgression she made. She never made any attempt to fix it; she thrived on the fact that she could blame everything on her depression and if she didn’t get her way, she’d threaten us with ‘DEPRESSION’ and so we shut up and carried on with life the best we could. Most of us don’t WANT to be like that; I know I sure as hell don’t.
I try to be positive. I get up and go to work every day. I sometimes even make it out for visits with friends, but it depends on my energy level. I see a counsellor. But when things overwhelm me, I shut down and don’t talk to anyone. It’s not that I’m sitting there thinking about how awful things are, I just don’t think about anything. Which isn’t a good thing. My friend does the exact opposite and analyzes and talks until she’s found herself sitting in emergency. Which isn’t a good thing either. There simply has to be a happy medium. We are in the same county, reaching the same destination, yet our journeys are entirely different from each other. Here is something else I wrote to her:
“I think you and I are common in that we were raised in dysfunctional families (that’s just a given!) – however, they were complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Your mom and dad doted on you and your sister and smothered you with love and affection. I just got smothered (heehee!)…what I learned was that I knew how to take care of myself, a very strong work ethic that my father instilled into me and that if I wanted something, I had to be the one to get it for myself.”
So, I made a challenge to her that I too shall endeavour to work on: When that black monster starts getting hold of me, I’m going to do my very best to tell it that I’m not interested, and I need to focus on something more positive. I will always want to learn about myself and who I am and why the way I am, but from now on, I’m going to spend more time on the greener side of the pasture.