metaphors

Sick AND Depressed? ‘Ooof

Head coldHello from your local depression blogger. This week I got sick. Because I was told my employer isn’t renewing my contract again? Because I’m nervous as hell about an upcoming opportunity? Because my extremely helpful meditation class came to an end?

Who knows?

But the head cold persists.

I know what to do about the cold itself – drown it in hot liquids, sleep, and vitamin C. What I’m not so sure about is how to manage the attendant weepiness, the mood swings, the body aches that remind me of my worst depressions.

How do we pass the time when we’re holed up inside and feeling ill, wanting desperately to avoid an emotional fall into that shitty dark pit of despair?

ReadingA lot of my friends swear by video games. Others say TV. Neither really work for me. Instead I’m immersing myself in a few good books. I’ve discovered David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, and am reading The Bone Clocks by him. I’ve also combed through a list of books on meditation and mindfulness and purchased Turning the Mind into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham.

I’m making myself eat so that the vitamin C doesn’t tear my stomach to shreds, and I’m making myself read so that my lethargy doesn’t tear my mind to shreds.

Got some book recommendations? Leave them in the comments below or email me at depressionwhoneedsit@gmail.com.

First photo by bandita on Flickr.

Second photo by Richard Masoner on Flickr.

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Mindfullnes #3: The Beauty of a Gentle Sway

swayWhen we’re recovering, we’re frustrated by the sway. Frustrated that recovery isn’t a straight line toward Better. Frustrated that some days, some hours, some thoughts still hurt like hell.

When we’re meditating, we’re taught that our minds will wander, it’s the bringing them back to the breath that matters.

I learned a standing yoga pose the other day that put all this into stark relief. Place your feet a little less than shoulder-width apart, hands hanging at your sides.

You’ll notice as you stand there that you’re constantly, very slightly, losing your balance and regaining it. You’re swaying. Allow yourself to sway. Notice that your body knows how to right itself, simply by tensing the muscles of the feet, the legs.

Instead of thinking of recovery as a frustrating, up-and-down hike to someplace called Better, I like to think of it as a gentle swaying motion. Constantly losing and regaining my balance, in cooperation with my body and mind, I’m able to stand tall.

Photo by HomeSpot HQ on Flickr.

Cool Little Depression Videos

You gotta love a video about depression that makes you laugh. Recently a friend of mine (the same friend who learned to love the mean voice) sent me two of those very things.

The first video includes a great depression metaphor for our collection: depression as an online stalker. He is interrupted throughout the video by messages that he is a failure, that even the act of making the video is a sign of weakness. It also has valuable information and recommends a book called The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression that I’m going to get now.

The second video is a little more playful. The backstory is hard to explain, check it out here if you’re interested. On the video, listen to the fantastic John Green of VlogBrothers talk about his experience with depression and give advice to other sufferers, while playing the shit out of some FIFA.

I found the latter inspirational, because John Green has a life I wouldn’t mind having, creating fantastic content for money. Who knew he’d suffered from depression? If he can do it, maybe so can we.

Photo by Pabak Sarkar on Flickr.

The Meta Thoughts

Bebop Sleeping

Bebop Sleeps

I was chilling on my back porch the other day with my adorable dog on my lap. Suddenly I was sure that the reason my doctor hadn’t called me back was that I have cancer and they don’t know how to break it to me. They know I’m depressed so they want me to come in in-person. I’m never going to have children and then for the rest of my life people will look at me and think, “How sad. She always wanted children.” A blow like this will sink me back into the worst of my depression. I’m never going to get better. That’s my future. I’m never getting better.

See that? Blink of an eye and I’m like four steps into my hypothetical, mourning my imagined losses, starting to panic.

This is the moment when therapy, or some other intentional recovery effort, does something. Before I started recovering, a turn like this would have landed me in bed, completely shut down and miserable. Now…

The Meta Thoughts

The Meta Thoughts

Enter: The META THOUGHTS

Instead of following the hypothetical, I realize that it’s just a hypothetical. I realize that I’m panicking, that I’m entering a tailspin. I realize that nothing bad has actually happened.

I got up, shook myself. Put a leash on my dog, went for a walk and called a friend.

After a bit of distraction and support from my friend, after I was able to calm down, I remembered that not every thought deserves its day in court (or its time in rumination-ville).

The appearance of the Meta Thoughts is new for me – the inkling that bad thoughts aren’t real events. If you don’t know what I’m talking about – I’m genuinely happy for you. If you do, try to remember, they’re there for you – those heroic Meta Thoughts.

 

Second photo by Lisa Cyr on Flickr.

Three Signs You’re Getting Better

A-OkWe often don’t notice when we’ve improved. We focus on how much further we have to go without noticing how far we’ve come. The “mean voice” finds new ways to criticize.

Here is a short list of signs that you might be getting a little better, and some encouragement to help you feel good about them.

Your interests broaden. It occurs to you to go to a meditation class, a support group or just out with friends. It occurs to you to order a book or call your grandmother. This is a great example of the weird tailspins depression can cause. Instead of noticing your newfound interest in social or intellectual pursuits, you might (like I was) be overwhelmed by the fact that you still lack the motivation to pursue them. See? You can’t do anything. You’re so sick you’ll never start doing the things that could make you feel better. All you can do is stay at home – like the depressed person that you are.

When really you’re a huge step closer to doing lots of things. A little motivation and you’d be there, at that gathering, taking that class, reading that book.

You email people you haven’t seen in a while. That friend from high school who’s now a neighbor, that old work friend – you remember them fondly and now you feel like knowing what they’re up to. You might do this in the most noncommittal way, you might give yourself trouble for not answering their reply for days or weeks, but you’re taking steps to engage other people. For the first time in a long time, it seems like people have something to offer.

The good feeling lasts a little longer. Restful activities used to make you feel better in the moment, and maybe for part of the walk home. Now that good feeling lasts just a little longer. Maybe you make it the whole way home before the worries flood in. Maybe it’s a whole afternoon, a night, a day. Your body is more restored than it used to be by good, calm moments. Your mind is more able to hold them.

These are things which might seem tiny to people unfamiliar with depression. To us, they’re monumental. Being interested in people and things, having positive experiences actually affect your mood – these are significant improvements. These are signs you’re getting better.

 

Photo by Wonderlane on Flickr.