I am feeling very depressed today. I have been in bed for the last three days. It feels like someone sucked all of the joy out of me. Most things I try to do, the techniques I know that can help, seem too hard to do right now. Notice that I used the word “seems” in the last sentence instead of “are”. When we talk to ourselves we have to be truthful and even when we think something is true, it not always so. I have to take responsibility for not doing everything I know to help myself but if I am being completely honest with myself I have to say that I am choosing not to do things that can help me. Why is that? When I was in a longer multi-year depression I really believe that there were things that I could not do. If someone put a gun to my head and said “get up and go for a run, or die” I would have said, “then shoot”. So I guess I should recognized and be grateful for not being at that depth of depression. But I think most people would be pretty freakin’ scared to be where I am right now. I’m not sure if the sensations that I have are the same as anyone else’s but I imagine some people might feel this way: my face feels numb, the front of my body feels like someone injected some numbing agent (just a little) into my body and then put one of those led things that they put on you in the dentist’s office when they take X-rays. I feel tired and lethargic. I want to feel better but I don’t have the energy or willpower to make that happen just yet (I am hoping it will come back since it has before); the light is dull and the colors look dull; I picked up a book to read and it felt heavy, and to read it felt like more energy was being drained out of my body. I cannot make myself smile by thinking of nice experiences and the things that I know I should be grateful for. I feel gratitude more from a sense of “Please God, Don’t take these people away from me because I am not grateful! I am grateful!”, but I feel this more out of fear than gratitude. The gratitude is intellectually there, but the feeling is very faint. I will get out of this.
So if I want to get out of this depresses state of mind, and I know that it is possible, why don’t I try to do all that I can? First, I’d like to say that I have tried several things but my energy is too low and my mood is too low. That doesn’t mean that these things no longer work. It just means that right now I need to use a different tool. Writing this blog post is a tool that I am using. Some of you might want to try journaling when you are depressed. My first suggesting is exercise, but I sure as hell am not exercising now. Second, we need to ask ourselves “What is the gain that I get out of either being depressed or not taking more action to get out of it?” A friend of mine would say to me, ‘What is the “secondary gain” that I am getting out of the behavior?’ My answer is that I really do not know. Sometimes there is a secondary gain that I am either aware of or most often unconsciously aware of. For example, I might want to get out of doing something that I have to do; or maybe I want sympathy or attention; maybe I want special treatment? Secondary gains might be found by examining the resistance or the strength of my attitude of “I don’t want to”, “I can’t”, or “I won’t” do x or y or z. “Maybe I want to hurt someone who hurt me by making them feel bad?” No, not this time. I am chalking it up to my biochemistry just being out of whack due to the fact that I have been upset and under pressure for several weeks. I knew that I was getting more depressed, but I couldn’t seem to stop it. I have to accept it and do what I can when I can to the best of my ability. One thing that I know I cannot do is engage is self-pity, self-blame, or guilt. Those thoughts and feelings serve no useful purpose whatsoever.
Hopefully my next post will be more optimistic. But I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to show you how I try to deal with it. Sometimes I just take a nap and hope that I will feel better when I wake up. That can work when I have some depressed feelings but am overall doing well. It might help with this. I always try to have hope. But when I’m like this the nap usually doesn’t do much good except to let me not feel the pain for a while. Then I feel guilty for wasting a day that God gave to me, but that is another self-defeating behavior. Gentle acceptance, hope, and gratitude for the wellbeing of my family are what I will hold on to. I hope that you have people and/or things to hold on to too.