So it’s February- the most challenging part of the year for me. This time marks the deep freeze in the part of the country I happily choose to live. The bright sun of spring is still a little too far away and my mood takes a deep dive into the dark places I try to hide from the world. I stop writing. I stop taking good care of myself. All I want to do is sleep. I eat poorly and I lash out unpredictably. I am unmotivated and uneasy and unlikeable. I am inexplicably sad and heavy hearted.
Most days, I try to hide my dis-ease from the world. I try to act like everything is ok when it’s not ok. This past week I finally did the brave thing and reached out to some close friends for some help. (Hehe, “help" just autocorrected to hope. Hope is also the correct word.) Talking with people who love me, while a vulnerable for me, is the most kind and loving thing I can do for myself.
I tell you about my dark depression, my friends, so you understand that depression is common and it is a real thing that even “happy” people struggle with. I have had depression for the majority of my life and I will always have it in some form. I also know that the deep recesses of winter are my toughest times, no matter how much Vitamin D I ingest and how many hours I sit in front of full spectrum lights. I have doctors and therapists that help me and I know that when it is bad I need help from my posse of friends and people who really see me. I also know, finally, that there is no room for shame, guilt or hiding when it comes to depression.
Depression is a disease of the brain. It is not who I am or how I define myself. However, on days when I’m struggling, it can feel as though it is overtaking things, like a vine wrapping around a stick. I write this blog so that we can start to own our own experiences, or that I can start to own mine at least, and be honest about what we struggle with. We are only as sick as our secrets.
Every day, people with depression fight through how they feel to function. We try to deny that we are depressed and pretend that we feel ok. We deny the existence of our own feelings and blow off our own emotions. This hasn't worked for me, so I'm starting a new personal revolution when it comes to my own depression.
I'm allowing myself to FEEL what I FEEL in the moment.
To clear my head, take some deep breaths, and ask my body what it is feeling in that very exact moment makes me feel less like a victim of my disease and more like a victor of my life. This subtle yet powerful shift means I am spending time connecting to my body and my mind instead of just curling up and zoning out. This change has had a wild and powerful outcome. The depression lifts just enough so that I feel better. I am writing again. I am taking good care of myself again. I am sleeping a normal amount of time. I am eating green food. My family even wants to be around me. Just by acknowledging the sadness I feel in any moment, I am validating myself. I am not wallowing, or freaking out, or trying to change things. I am just honoring my own reality. Just the small bit of self love that comes from that is enough to move me though the dark times into the light.
I will be a different person in the Spring. I know this because it has been my truth for over 40 years. It will be easier. I will feel lighter and more open. Until then, I will honor that this is where I am and this is my experience. What I know now is that I feel better (much better) today than I did yesterday. That is progress.
I want everyone and anyone who is struggling with depression to know that you are not alone. There is always help available. Know that nothing lasts forever and that if you can sit for just a moment and be with yourself, and just feel what you feel, you’re one step closer to feeling better.