About the Aware Blog. Each month we will post an article on a range of topics relating in some way to Depression. A blog post may be the author’s personal experience, a reaction to public events, or views on how better we can support ourselves and others who experience depression or related mood disorders. Each of our posts will be from an individual viewpoint, this means that some blog posts may not reflect official Aware policy.
Blog Entry Nov 5th by Carl
Take it slow – seek advice – be kind – enjoy the journey
Where does one begin when trying to overcome depression? The answer can seem out of reach especially if you are feeling low. As with most things in life today, we strive to see instant results and if we do not see them then we either give up or decide maybe something else would be better. The wealth of information available can seem overwhelming. So what would be a good way to approach recovery?
Imagine a child going out on a winter’s day to play with his friends. The ground is frozen hard with shimmering patches of ice and a faint cool breeze. His foggy breath is visible under the cool bright sun. A frozen footpath leads to the playground where his friends are. In his enthusiasm to play he tries to sprint, only to find his feet sliding on the ice, he slips and falls over. Unperturbed and buoyed by his want to play he gets up and again tries to run, which results in another return to the ground with a thud. Determined to get to the other side he puts even more energy and effort into overcoming the obstacle before him. Yet the harder he tries the less progress he seems to make. It begins to seem impossible.
Eventually, he realises he may need some help so he calls to his friends, hoping one will come and drag him to the playground. The more enthusiastic of his friends rush out to help him try only to fall victim to the ice too. This leaves him feeling disheartened. He had hoped his friends could do it for him.
Then one friend offers some simple advice from the edge of the ice. She had come across this frozen stretch earlier so she knew from experience what he could do. She tells him to try and stay calm and begin to move slowly, edging forward. To his surprise this seems to work. By taking it easy, he begins to find a little grip which had previously seemed elusive. He realises that he had the ability within him to overcome this obstacle all along; all he needed was a little guidance from a knowledgeable source. His friends encourage him towards them and as he enjoys the last few moments of gentle sliding he can’t but think of how much fun this is, now that he is making progress.
The above story reminds me of my journey out of depression. At first it caught me unaware, directing me uncontrollably to places I didn’t want to go. Then in my eagerness to be ‘cured’, I would try things expecting instant results which could never happen or at times I hoped others would do the work for me. I would find myself back in the same dark places as before. This left me feeling frustrated and hopeless. Getting better seemed impossible! Thankfully though, by talking and reading about other people’s experiences I soon learned that by simply changing how I approached my problems I could move forward.
Take it slow
‘All or Nothing’ thinking patterns can be a symptom of depression but this extreme way of thinking can hold recovery back. If we can let go of this way of thinking then we might begin to see some progress. Remember that time goes quick enough as it is without us trying to force it. So like the child on the ice take a step back and then decide to move forward slowly. Set yourself small achievable goals and follow through with them.
Seek experienced advice
By talking to a friend and heeding experienced advice, the child was able to use this and progress. Depression is similar; by talking to people you may be pleasantly surprised by the advice you get. Obviously though you need to take advice from the right people. It can be useful to use other people’s experience as a stepping stone towards your recovery. You do not need to do it alone. Check out Aware’s online bookshop for starters or the health supplements in your favourite newspapers.
Taking a little time out to do something nice for you is an important part of recovery. I cannot emphasise enough how necessary this is. By taking things a little easier and not putting yourself under too much pressure, you allow yourself the freedom to work on getting better.
Enjoy the journey
A common way of thinking about depression is to tell yourself that you will enjoy life once you get beyond depression. However if you can allow yourself to enjoy some moments now or even feel a sense of satisfaction that you are slowly making progress, this will assist your journey out of depression. If you find yourself struggling at any point remember to go easy on yourself and re-evaluate your situation.
Remember, the child made it to the other side, and so can you.