Some of my blog posts are serious; some are funny. They are almost always spontaneous and authentically me. This one will probably be a bit lower energy than most.
I am writing from what I personally think of as “Depression Land,” or sometimes, “the pit.” Many readers know I have a long-standing unipolar depression. In my younger years I was deeply depressed, frequently suicidal, and spent some time in the psych ward. You can read about that time and how I recovered In Methods of the Masters.
These days I am much less frequently depressed. When I am in the pit, it is a much shallower pit, and I’m not there for long. I have a regimen I maintain that works well for me. It involves nutrition and exercise and lifestyle choices. I’ve developed it over the years.
A big part of my maintenance plan is how I think. I am no longer attached to my depression. When it rears its head, I notice it. I think, “Hmmm… my brain chemicals are out of whack. What shall I do now to take care of myself?” I know this territory so well. I know what to do while I wait to feel better. Most importantly, I know I will feel better, probably within a few days.
Here’s what my depression looks like these days: I am confused. It’s hard to think clearly. I can’t do math. I have a hard time articulating thoughts, and sometimes stutter. I have very little physical energy. I move slowly. I am able to write this post today because after four days, I am in the upswing part of the cycle, on my way out of the pit.
I used to have a voice in my head that told me, “You’re alone. Nobody loves you. Life is just pain. Everything is hopeless.” Since I learned a different way to think, and I stopped getting hooked into those false messages, the voice has pretty much gone away. The brain chemicals still misfire a few times a year, but I don’t climb on to the hamster wheel. I just notice what’s happening and go into self-care mode.
It would be easy to beat myself up during these periods, because I am a pretty goal-oriented person. I enjoy my work and I work hard. While I’m in Depression Land, however, little work gets done. Instead, I take hot lavender baths. I lie in bed a lot. If I have the energy, I read a bit, or go outside and walk a little. I meditate every few hours. I double up on my Tryptophan and my Omega 3s. I take very good care of my body and my psyche. I love myself through it.
When I get a bit of energy, I write one article, instead of the 4 or 5 I might usually do at a sitting. I spend bits of time with kids and grandkids, when it feels good. I don’t try to do much for anybody else. I am my own top priority. I am in survival mode.
Fortunately, my husband recognizes the process. When it happens, he is patient. He cooks for me, and hands me my Tryptophan and reminds me to go lie down. He cuddles me. He knows the cycle, that I will soon be back to my energetic, upbeat self. Depression can be very hard on families. When I was young and married the first time, it took a terrible toll on my marriage and my children.
I’ve been writing a book about all this, and I will soon be launching a website full of information about depression, and tools to get better. It will be based on an approach I’ve developed over the years called Reboot Your Bliss™. I’ll keep you posted.
Now I’m off to close my eyes and meditate a bit.