Last May with the days getting shorter, I could feel the darkness inside me but thought that by keeping busy with new directions in my life I would make it through winter without descending into depression. Instead, all it took was one phone call, my first ever panic attack, a complete bitch of a doctor, and I was so low I actually couldn't talk and walk at the same time. In fact I struggled to do either for a while. I have worked so hard over the last year and I know I am heaps better than ever before, but still I can feel twinges of the Dark as the days once again get shorter.
John Kirwan. What has happened is that I finally accepted that which I knew intellectually but had never truly believed: there is no magic bullet, there is no one who can fix me, no fairy godmother with a wand, no instructional flow chart that would lead me to mental health.
The first thing that helped me was to learn to feel loved. I constantly heard / read that I had to love myself. Well, no. I cannot just suddenly love myself any more than I can make myself have faith in some god. I thought about it and chose a slightly different path. I thought for a long time until I could find a specific memory of a time when I actually felt loved. I went over that memory time and again until I could actually feel the love, then gradually learned to separate the feeling from the memory, so that in time I could just recreate the feeling at any time without it being attached to anything but me. So when I started feeling bad, I would just relax into the feeling of loving and being loved.
I made myself a book to use both as my record of my progress, and as a reference manual for future bad times (I'm not pretending the bad times will never return.) I compiled a list of things that I enjoyed doing, or that made me feel good when I was well. It's really important for me to have that written down, because when I go down I can't think clearly at all. I have a long list of things that I can refer to.
There are many things that are known to help with depression: drugs, nutrition, exercise, - oh, a million things. None of them work by themselves, none of them work for everyone. For each of us there will be a cocktail of things that help, and I know that the cocktail that suits me will not work for everyone else - maybe not for anyone else. I do know that I can look at myself in the mirror now without being filled with repulsion, and it's been a long, long time since I could do that. I do know that I am enjoying life a million times more now than I have done for...... well, for as long as I can remember. I can say, "life is good" - and mean it.
Feel free to remind me of all this if you see me fallen down.