Being diagnosed with clinical depression earlier this year has been an interesting cross to bear. Not least because it is a ‘label’, and this society lurves labels. I’ve tried to talk about it honestly on my blog since I was diagnosed, (I will dig out some of the posts from the old blog I hid and post them on here too). Telling people that I ‘had’ depression gives me a couple of reactions, people either get the blank, stuffed animal look on their face, so I know to shut up in a hurry, because whatever I say – they won’t hear me. Or I get the Spanish Inquisition (no-one expects the…) and answer question after question.
I don’t go around advertising it, but I also won’t hide it. It is as part of me as my blue eyes, my loud laugh and my love of lists and order. People ask me how did I get through it, what did I do, how do I recognise it for next time?
I am not going to lie, it is a daily battle sometimes. There are days when I struggle to get out of bed. There are days when it is all I can do to hold it together, so have I truly got through it? I don’t know. Do you ever get through a mental illness, chemical imbalance, wobble, call it what you will. When you cut yourself, you have a scar. Why should the brain be any different? Because when you think back to something in your past, you can remember exactly how you felt at the time, if you blushed, you blush again, 5, 10, 20 odd years down the track. The chemical paths in your brain fire the same, because when a memory is there, it is indelibly there. One thing I have learnt, going over and over and over the same thing that hurt at the time, hurts time and time again. Because you reinforce the memory, you think ‘I am depressed’ you begin to feel depressed.
So I take each day at a time, I recognise the feelings when I get them, I own them. But I also shine a light on them, magnify them to epic proportions, stare them down and learn from them. Am I really upset when I have a bad day at work, or frustrated because what I had planned didn’t come off? Am I sad, or nostalgic? Am I cross, tired – and do I actually need to label what they particularly are. Can I not just be ‘meh’? Yes, I do need to label them, but then I need to forget them. Because if you dwell on being sad, you think about more and more things that make you sad, and the cycle continues, ever downwards. I also forget them, because the internal dialogue that shows up with the lower moods is not me, I am not my thoughts. When you shine a light on what is happening, most of the time, it isn’t worth worrying about.
I also remember‘This too will pass‘. It is on my screen saver at work. As is, ‘Stop doing what you’re doing, just coz it’s easy‘ and ‘Don’t be afraid to go out on the limb, that is where the fruit is.’ All three quotes remind me that time is precious. When I am happy and laughing, time will pass as just quickly as the times when I am feeling lost. Doing the same thing today as you did yesterday because it is easier than doing something harder or different, is lazy. If you want different results in your life, you have to do different things. You cannot expect your life to change if you do the same thing, day in day out. Every day you have to make choices, but choosing the easy ones, not the risky ones won’t enhance your life, won’t help you grow. And for me, it won’t lift me out the dips I find myself in occasionally.
I have learnt that I need to push my boundaries. I need to let myself have the time and space to look at what I am feeling, so I make time to meditate every day. Even if I can’t stop the chatter in my head, I am taking 10 minutes for me. Every day. If you can’t find 10 minutes to sit still and tune yourself in every day, I think you need to reevaluate your priorities. The biggest thing I’ve learnt after my diagnosis earlier this year? I am at the top of my list, because when I don’t take time to look after myself, the dips become troughs.