Winston Churchill named depression as the black dog. I don’t particularly like dogs so I chose to name depression the black cat. I also reserve the right to change my mind and call it something else at a later date. Forget superstition and black cats here. I chose to name it the black cat for the reason that I like cats and I want to label depression something that is manageable. Sure cats can’t be trained like a dog but it lives with you as a house guest just the same. I think Winston Churchill name depression as the black dog rather than a monster or an enemy army because he wanted to chose something that he could control. Plus he simply liked dogs. If you allow depression to be labelled something bigger then it takes on its own power and cannot be tamed. I think we all realise that depression cannot be cured it. It however can be tamed. Once got, depression will keep coming back as if it never left. So in actuality it never leaves but is always present.
How we deal with depression makes it easier to to recognise the signs when depression tries to take over our lives the next time. Being prepared and gaining self knowledge is key to recognise the symptoms before they get out of hand. When we are in the midst of depression we feel we cannot get out. To those who advise with the words, “get outside and go for a run.” “Get over it!” or “Snap out of it!” Those people have never been depressed and don’t realise that the action of getting out of bed is an effort. Having a shower or bath is an effort. So to suggest to someone to go and exercise is beyond the realm of function. In reality we know that to get a good night’s sleep, eat healthy and to exercise is good for the mind and body. We do know all that. We aren’t stupid. That is not at the heart of depression. That is what makes it harder. We know what we are doing is irrational. Well not always. We know that depression is inside our heads. It is the mind that is playing tricks on us. It is us. We are our own worst enemy. When written related to depression it is so true. We don’t need anyone else to dump blame or guilt. We do a real good job ourselves. We don’t need anyone else to tell how low we feel. We know and magnify it to ridiculous lengths as to how bad we are. Hearing it in our heads over and over, makes it so we believe it, no matter how crazy the idea, we hear it so many times that we start to believe it to be so. Here in lies the deception of self. We do it to ourselves. We no longer can distinguish between crazy thoughts and rational thoughts. When we are thinking clearly the distinction is obvious. To those who are depressed we cannot tell the difference. Am I flying upside down or not? To the clear headed thinker, even the question is a little out there. To the illogical thinker the question receives as much care and attention as a rational question. The ability to distinguish diminishes. The self doubt increases. We no longer feel comfortable in decision making. Confidence is lost.
Sometimes letting go or giving up can be the strongest thing to do. Why should we be strong all the time? What purpose does it fulfill? Perfectionism again is goal that can never be reached and yet we still try to obtain this impossibility. We crash and burn so many times and we wonder why we cannot obtain it. Life is not a point in time, it is a continuum. We cannot possibly maintain this desire to perfectionism and not run out of energy. Rest is required whether we want it or not. It is necessary. We need sleep. We need rest too. Doing nothing at times in our life is necessary. It is a form of rest. Allowing rest to be a part of our lives, gives us space to breathe. Rest allows us the chance to indulge in silliness, the lighter side of life. And through silliness we allow ideas to form that may not have happened if we were always trying too hard. Rest is just as important as Play.
Switching off the voices inside your head, you know the ones that tell you negative thoughts, you can’t switch them off. But you can drown them out with the other thoughts of good things and positive things. We get distracted at times and listen to the wrong ones. Go too far and you start hearing “too big for your boots” comments. Proportion. Balance.
Felicity Groom – Siren Song