Hello, Past Selves. Just a short post on depression, and how to fight it.
Three days ago I had a talk with my sister about coffee. It turned out to be a somewhat more memorable talk than I anticipated.
See, every morning I get up and make a pot of coffee. I pour myself a cup, and put some in a travel mug for my sister’s long commute to work. When my Mom gets up, she has a cup too. I also help get my niece and nephew ready for school. Simple stuff, right?
Well, with all the strain and time crunch my sister faces daily in this job, she informed me that my small efforts are actually huge from her perspective. Just knowing that she will get a hot cup of coffee, and that her kids are being taken care of, relieves considerable worry and stress for her on a daily basis. And believe me, she needs as little additional stress on her shoulders as she can not get.
Mom also said something similar later that day, that my simple chores for her are appreciated. The next day I told my therapist, who pointed out that I could learn to acknowledge the incremental accomplishments in my life. This only reinforced the impact of my conversation with my sister. It helped lighten the depression to hear this positive feedback. It felt good, gratifying, to find out how it helped my family to do these simple tasks every day.
I often get frustrated with what I see as a lack of progress, and what seems like futility of not accomplishing goals. But now I’m seeing that maybe my goals are the problem. I tend to aim high, and beat myself up when I fail to catapult myself to those lofty heights. It’s an ongoing pattern that’s hurt me all my life.
The therapist I mentioned earlier wants me to renew my cognitive behavioral practice, to retrain my brain and learn all over again how to shape my thoughts and feelings rather than just letting them happen helplessly. It worked once before, and got me out of a deep lifelong depression. This one’s no different, except in my point of view. And I know from experience that my point of view can be changed.
Wish me the best of luck, Past Selves. But meanwhile I’ll be doing more than wishing about it, or relying on luck. I’m going to make a concerted effort to refocus, retrain, and repair my own mind, to accentuate the positive, and to decide or discover what specific things I can do to fight the negative. To take some control, to whatever degree possible, of my own feelings and wrestle them into some semblance of a functional mindset.
I know I can do it. I did it once before, with less of a foundation for hope. My life back then was a train wreck, I had no hope of finding hope, but with great effort and amazing help I crawled out of the wreckage and dispersed that black cloud. I’ve been out of the hole, and I know the sunlight exists up there above ground. I just have to keep digging my way out of the cave.