As you may have read, I have been struggling mightily with depression over the past several (now approaching three and a half) weeks. I also had decided that I was not going to put up with it any longer, so I would make depression abatement my primary priority. As anyone who has been depressed over a long term can tell you, it doesn't just affect the time when you're depressed, the effects of depression can permanently ruin jobs, relationships, and lifestyle. Just ask any alcoholic.
But the catch 22 of depression abatement is that it's nigh impossible to acutally enact the things that will (presumably) fix the depression. Getting myself to the gym three times a week, for example, is almost as impossible as becoming a professional gymnast. And "finding an exercise that is fun" when I'm depressed feels like I'm trying to imagine some insane fantasy world. Nothing is fun.
However, I'm very stubborn. Thank God for that.
"We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world." - Jack Gilbert
I think there's a fine line between stubbornness and faith. Instead of languishing into depression, I decided to change things. I remember I told an ex that I didn't care how he decided to work on fixing his depression, as long as he worked on it. If he felt like patting his stomach three times per day would fix it, then patting his stomach three times per day was enough proof he was working on fixing it. And I truly believe that... it really doesn't matter what you try to get over depression, as long as you do something. And if that something doesn't work, stop trying that and try something else.
Of course, there are bazillions of studies and personal testimonials on what has a higher liklihood of working. Things like getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercising, and avoiding stimulants and depressants have all been proven enough times to be considered effective treatments for depression. But these things are pretty elusive at best right now (and totally impossible at worst). It doesn't help me to be less depressed if I'm beating myself up for having chicken nuggets, missing the gym, having a few glasses of wine, or laying awake with insomnia.
If there's one thing I've found as a reliable way to increase depression, it's beating myself up.
So I decided to try to find smaller things more like patting my stomach three times per day. Sure, it might not be the most effective thing, but at least I'm making some progress. I want to set myself up for success here, not create a deeper hole of failure that I have to climb out of.
I trust Dr. Andrew Weill and have done his "Eight Weeks to Optimum Health" program before. I loaned the book out years ago (never to be returned), so I decided to look for it on Audible (books that I can listen to in the car are yet another way that I can set myself up for success. The idea that I'll actually read a book in some sort of paralell universe where I have a bunch of time to read is yet another way that I could set myself up for failure). I found the "Eight Weeks" book, but also saw that he had a book called "Spontaneous Happiness." It got great reviews, so I decided to get that one instead. It's much more specifically topical and, though it was a terrifying departure from my intended purchase, I felt ok taking the risk (yeah, everything seems fearsome these days).
It's good. It's really good.
My friend asked me if it works. It's far too soon to tell, but I believe in it. I have faith that it will work. And that alone has helped me feel more optimistic about my situation. The book directed me to take some supplements. Easy enough, right? I bought the recommended supplements and set them next to my desk so I remember to take them when I get to work. I have been doing the recommended breathing treatment twice per day. I went to the gym (but I'm not sure I can do that on a regular basis and I'm not pressuring myself). I've been more mindful of what I put in my body, focusing on having fresh vegetables instead of processed sugars and flours. I don't beat myself up if I fail at some things... I had a roll last night. Perfection isn't important here, it's progress that is important.
Any kind of progress at all.
And I drove up to see Russ last weekend, since it was more than three weeks since I saw him and that was too much to bear. He petted me and took care of me, fed me fresh food, made me laugh... driving up was a huge step and I didn't really have the money to do it, but I knew I must do it if I was to get better.
Because depression is the kind of thing that enjoys stasis. It gets you stuck like tar and it's so hard to get out of. But you must have the stubbornness to demand gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. Accepting it isn't realistic when the powerful weight of your brain is too heavy to hold.