The borders of Depression-Land are ill defined and so while I know I entered the territory at some point during the autumn, dwelled there for a time and now find I have left, there is no date stamp in my passport. I was probably there around five months, though it felt like longer.
If you are wondering, this latest low was a result of uprooting from Surbiton and bedding down in Bath, getting overtired and over-busy, the darkness of winter – nothing all that dramatic. Despite my deeply held belief that depression is a failure of chemistry not character, I burnt with shame to find myself in a pit again, still so fragile after all these years. I wondered how I’d make any new friends if this was the version of myself doing the introductions. All those awful symptoms smeared me in unattractive grey – brutal fatigue, loss of joy or interest in life, crippling self -doubt, endless tears. I have been a dreary, negative version of myself. I was terrified of damaging my children, of losing my job, of losing my faith, of this being the time I finally completely cracked (whatever that would look like).
Anyway, here I am on the other side. The sun has come out again.
These are some of the things that got me through:
Reading and working through ‘Overcoming Depression: A self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques’ by Pete Gilbert
I have known about CBT for a long time but never studied it in depth. This book was a revelation and although putting the theory into practice is hard work, I felt so empowered to have a simple, structured way to deal with my thoughts.
Meditating on the armour of God from Ephesians 6
There was an amazing sermon at church from a couple living through some horrendous circumstances in which the wife spoke about how she puts on spiritual armour each morning. You can listen here: (from 18.10)
Leaning on my inner circle
I am hugely blessed to have family and friends who know and love me enough to stay close and prop me up when I need it. Depression told me I was alone, rejected and worthless. Everyday I had hard evidence to the contrary. If you are wondering what it takes to be a friend to a depressed person, this clip on empathy from Brene Brown will really help: https://youtu.be/1Evwgu369Jw
Our lovely 15-year-old cat died in November, and around Christmas we did an impulsive, late night dash to Swansea to pick up two eight -week -old kittens. Luna and Milo are velvet-soft bundles of gorgeousness and the best therapy ever.
I’ve tried to do all the sensible things like having regular bedtimes, running, reading good books and all the rest. I also started taking vitamin D and went to the doctor to adjust my meds. I think all of those things helped.
I’d love to hear some of the things that have worked for you or that you are currently trying out. Much as I hope this is not the case, the probability is this won’t be my last visit to this particular place. As a lovely lady from my new church wrote to me, ‘I feel the word for you is acceptance. Accept that this is what you are – sometimes we have an imbalance within. Accept this is how God has made you. Accept that you are meant to be here. Accept the love that is all around you here, wherever you look. You react differently to others because you are you! Meditate on that!’