3.8 Editor's Pick
November 11, 2018

How to Get One Over on Depression.

Editor’s Note: This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. 

 

When I pulled off my eye mask and noticed that it was sunny, I was angry.

Frustrated, really.

I had wanted to lie in bed all day with my blanket over my head, wallowing in my lowness, wrapping myself in a cocoon of darkness.

A couple of hours earlier I’d noticed that familiar foggy wave of a depressive state flowing its way toward me. Not sadness—that’s not depression. It’s more of a heaviness, a bleakness, a more all-inclusive general sense of melancholy.

I wanted to give in.

Relent.

Fall.

I wanted to sink into it.

I wanted to allow it to wash over and through me.

Swallow me. Enfold me in its bleakness.

In fact, I even tried to let it happen.

I knew exactly how it would feel to move into it, and my conscious thinking mind wanted to just surrender. I was tired, and I didn’t feel like fighting it.

There’s something in it that beckons us, a perverse sort of satisfaction we get in succumbing to it. Yielding to it. Allowing it to overtake us completely.

It’s enticing. And tempting. It’s even magnetic.

It doesn’t feel good, exactly, but in a way, it does.

I knew that if I’d relented, I would’ve been there for a day, or two, or three. I knew exactly how the hours would pass, how the time would play out. I could already anticipate the precise sensations I’d feel within my physical body; the lull that would permeate my mind.

Sometimes it feels like we almost have an unwillingness to pull ourselves out of it—because it’s so much easier to just stay inside of it.

But yesterday, I couldn’t get lost in it—even though I actually tried.

And, I realized that maybe we don’t always have to move so far into it that we can’t find the will to come out of it. Maybe we can become so attuned with how we feel, that we can stop ourselves from dissolving completely into it.

That we can experience depression or anxiety as somehow separated from us—where it becomes just an aspect of our experience, rather than the entirety of it.

Where we can allow it to be there, lurking around, hanging out, patiently awaiting its moment to pounce—while also knowing that we’re going to do whatever it takes to prevent it.

We can’t deny the feelings or force them away, but maybe with will and intention, we keep them to the periphery.

One part of us will feel it, but another part remains removed.

It’s not always easy to understand that we have this ability.

Often, it feels inevitable. Like, it just had to happen. As if it’s obvious that this is simply who we are, and just something we must go through.

Some episodes are bigger and harder, and they come so suddenly and forcefully that we can’t make sense of it. We’re just in it. We can’t see a way out, or find our way through.

But there is a way for us to feel the tantalizing pull, without submitting to it completely.

We just have to find a way to feel what we’re feeling, and allow it, without assuming that it automatically has to be what it is. We have to acknowledge it, and resist the urge to deny it, but we also need to understand that we don’t necessarily have to get consumed by it.

It’s difficult, and a lot of the time, it feels impossible. But, it’s not.

We have to cling and grasp to whatever it is that will keep us grounded in a space that’s outside of it.

When I feel low, I know I need movement and fresh air—which usually means a long walk or run. Other times, I crave a hot shower and a deep stretch, or a phone call with my mom. Often, what I know I need is to meditate and journal. I’ve noticed that, for me, writing through the emotion helps it flow out.

I don’t always feel like doing these things, and it generally takes conscious effort, but I do what I need anyway (despite the unwillingness), because somewhere inside I know it’ll bring me relief.

It’s taken me years to understand this—I’ve gone through the process of dwelling in it so many times before.

Yesterday, when I realized that I couldn’t sleep, I gave myself a few minutes to feel as badly as I wanted. Then, I decided that I needed to get up and do something. Anything. Whatever it took to get me out of this place.

I went out for a run. I didn’t want to. I’d even made the stark decision that there was no way it was going to happen. But, something within me had other plans.

As I ran, I felt light. I became energized. I smiled as I ran into the wind and felt the sun on my skin. The fatigue that had overwhelmed me earlier in the morning no longer moved with me.

I spent the rest of the day being gentle with myself. I felt better, but the depressive cloud didn’t leave me—it lingered, accompanying me—letting me know it was there in case I wanted to give it another try.

I didn’t. At least, not really.

A part of me was tempted, but I clung to a tenuous thread of resolve.

A part of me wanted to dissolve into it, but a greater part of me didn’t.

A part of me wanted to allow it, but something within me had the wherewithal to keep myself outside of it.

 

author: Lisa Erickson

Image: Vinoth Chandar / Flickr

Editor: Julie Balsiger

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Lisa Erickson

Lisa Erickson is a writer, dreamer, thinker, and recovering overanalyzer. She is enchanted by nature, and when not trying to string thoughts into cogent sentences,  enjoys spending time taking long walks, practicing yoga, or binge-watching something she’s probably becoming far too emotionally involved in. Read more of Lisa’s work on her blog and connect with her on Instagram.