I’ve experienced some pretty severe depression. And I know I’m not the only one. It is lonely. It feels hopeless a lot of times. Then my brain starts to try to explain what the feeling means. In reality it doesn’t mean anything. It is a feeling and chemicals are involved. In reality depression is a survival technique of the brain helping you to pull back, get rest, recover, stay safe. It is also a necessary feeling to help us understand and appreciate the good feelings in life. Depression is part of the equation, part of the balance, and it is there by design. But reality doesn’t always get center stage in my brain. I also naturally try to avoid depression. I may think things like I shouldn’t feel this way, or I want to get rid of it, or something’s wrong with me if I feel this way, I must have done something wrong, I’m just not good enough to feel happy. Then my brain tries to help me in my desire to get away from it. With ideas like let’s cover this up by eating yummy food, or seeking pleasure will fix this, and if it doesn’t at least I get some relief from it for a bit. It would even throw the idea of suicide at me. This could work. This would stop the pain. Then I feel worse for having a suicidal thought: I can’t believe I would even think that. That is so selfish of me. I’m horrible. And the spiral continues. Yikes! You can see how this can go south pretty quick. But it is so real and happens with so many people. It can be a disease. It can be life-threatening. It can require professional treatment. The need for treatment and help is urgent. And I’ll bet it affects somebody you know, if not you.
Hearing other people’s experiences has helped me a ton. So I thought I’d share some excerpts from my journal a few years ago during times of feeling very depressed.:
I feel like my mind is being swallowed up by darkness. I want a way out of it but it will not relent. My therapist says to go toward it but that is the last thing I want to do. I’ve heard it said that people can become addicted to suffering and that’s why it’s hard to change. Because we become comfortable with it. Am I addicted to suffering and self-punishment?
The last week and a half have been really hard. I have felt almost constantly depressed and tired. I feel like I’m in a fog inside my head and it’s hard to see anything clearly. It’s hard to want to do anything when I feel crappy before, during, and after activities. I feel good occasionally playing the piano, playing basketball, doing yoga, being with dog, being with Linz and kids. But these things still feel overshadowed by a sinking feeling inside. Then I feel guilty about feeling down around kids and Linz. I feel like I’ll bring them down. Linz tells me this isn’t true. I want to believe her but can’t. I don’t know how to do this. I want it to go away. I feel numb to life a lot of the time.
Been feeling really depressed for the last 3 days straight. Would be nice to have a break. It starts getting extra hard [in the process] about now. But good days always come and I just need to weather the storm. It’s raining outside right now with lightning and thunder. Storms come and go. Clear skies always come at some point.
The depression fills my head and feels like sand is continually pouring from the top of my skull and seeping down, scraping along the way, until it’s touched every part of my mind. I accomplished many great things today and felt like shit (almost edited this word but it’s the right one) the entire time. I have so much to be grateful for and I still feel like crap. Lindsay says “That’s a sign that it’s something chemical.”
I remember days where just getting out of bed felt like I had climbed a mountain. I could literally lay curled up in fetal position for hours. If I fed myself, showered, and brushed my teeth it was a huge victory. Sometimes I would cry. Most of the time I felt too depressed to cry. I am not proud of these things. But I’m not ashamed of them anymore either. They are just things that happened. They were part of a disease. They just are.
Sometimes the only thought that got me through was that good days always come. Because they do. Like passengers on a bus, the negative feelings eventually get off and the positive ones get on. I’ve learned that a lot of times both positive and negative feelings can be on the bus at the same time.
At that time in my life for some reason that movie Saving Mr. Banks, about the creating of the movie Mary Poppins, where the dad is literally falling apart drinking himself to death, meant a lot to me. A podcast called The Hilarious World of Depression and finding ways to laugh about depression was helpful. Therapy every week was absolutely crucial for me, especially when I was dreading going more than half the time. Finding enough restful sleep was a glaring factor. Medication helped some. Regular exercise was very important and one of the best kinds of medicine. There are so many resources available that are both healthy and helpful for depression. But a lot of times I didn’t even want them. Well I did. But I didn’t.
Having supportive, non-judgmental, loving family and friends made a world of a difference. People trying to fix it for me or give me a pep talk didn’t really help, in fact, sometimes I would let it make me feel worse. Stuff at church was a nightmare and I started going for just social reasons. Others asking how I was doing (some people stop asking) and being willing to listen to my crappy feelings and validate and just be there and not expect anything from me seemed to be the most helpful when I was really down.
There is a song that sums up the thought that was often the only tiny sliver of hope that I could barely hold on to, but that helped me get through my worst bouts of depression. There are a lot of good songs that help me. I would sometimes listen to this song while getting out in the sun and moving (walking, running, etc.). Opening all the blinds and letting the sun in helps too. The song is called For a Better Day, by Avicii. Here are a few lines from it:
In the road of life
I tumble forward
But I’m going on
I’ma keep it strong
Maybe it might be time
For a better day
For a better day
For a better day
One thing I know for certain is that good days always come. And if that is the only thought you can have when you are feeling down, it may be just enough to get you through. It was for me.
Learning to pay attention to what was going on in my mind and just being aware of it has helped me so much in drastically reducing my symptoms of depression and improving the way I weather the storms. Having someone help me with this from an objective perspective has been insightful and powerful for me.
Click here to SCHEDULE a session (video call) with me
Please contact me to ask questions or share experiences of your own. Make comments. Let’s get a discussion going.
Click “Follow” if you want more.