I went through a very serious, 4 year depression a while back. It was fucking brutal! I would not wish that on anyone. Eventually I found a good doctor who got me on some medication that worked for me. Through some research, I also got a better understanding of how my brain and thought processes work. Around this time I also started getting interested in Buddhism, meditation, and tai chi which helped change my mindset a bit so I could deal with the depression more effectively. My doctor told me early on that there are no magic pills. The medication helped me get to a place where I could start collecting tools to help me better deal with life.
I eventually got to where I would go long periods of time without feeling depressed. That doesn’t mean that I never felt sad or a down or never had bad days. For me, there is a huge difference in having a bad day and the debilitating effects of severe depression. And I noticed that I could spot the negative thoughts that would seem to invite the depression back in, a mile away. And when I do spot them, I’m like, oh hell no! I’m not going down that path, ever again! Very rarely have those old thought patterns and feelings been able to sneak up on me.
So it was kind of shocking for me to wake up today with that old black cloud hanging over me like in those dark days. It’s like I went back in time about 8 years. It seemed like a thousand pound weight was on my chest and it was everything I could do to get out of bed. The thoughts like, damn, I hate that I woke up today, were right there, like they used to be every day. Totally ambushed me. I never saw it coming.
I’m grateful for all the things I’ve learned over the last several years regarding dealing with thoughts and feelings. I used to try to fight the depression. I tried to get rid of it and make myself be happy. It never worked. In tai chi, resistance actually gives your opponent strength. Instead, yielding to overcome is the thought process. No resistance. That doesn’t mean you don’t protect yourself. Not at all. But you go with the flow of your opponent. This is very similar to how I deal with negative thoughts and emotions. I no longer try to fix myself. I notice what’s there, without judgment when possible, and then just see what comes up next. And I try to flow with that. It’s been very difficult to do this today. The feelings are almost overwhelming. So I’m just breathing, paying attention to my work, and mindfully noticing the feelings from time to time.
I’ve read this before, and thought it myself in the past a few times… but today’s ambush made me realize that I might never be fully “cured” of depression, never to think of it again. It might very well be something that pops up from time to time, for the rest of my life. That doesn’t make me sad or scared, but I think it’s good that I realize that. So when I see the thoughts coming from a mile away, or I’m ambushed by a thousand pound weight of depressed feelings, I won’t be shocked or think that there is something wrong with me. I realize today that thoughts like, “Well, fuck! I thought I was over this for good!”, only add fuel to the fire of the depressed feelings. I’m too exhausted to learn any other lessons from this today. I’m sure things will come to me over the next several days.
If you are dealing with depression, my heart goes out to you. It’s a truly terribly thing to have in your life. I won’t tell you to “hang in there” or “things will get better” or any of that other bullshit that NEVER helps. I will just say that I understand, at least to some degree, and I feel your pain. If you haven’t looked into medication, check it out. Or get someone to help you check it out. If you can find one that helps, it’s life changing! If you are a friend or loved one of someone dealing with depression, be there for them. Call them. Send them flowers. Cry with them. If they will let you, give them a hug. Sometimes, ask them what you can do for them. They won’t always know what to tell you, but it means a lot.
Namaste, and peace, and all that. 🙂