Coming out of depression is not a smooth road. People will ask “how are you?”, and I mean people who really care, well-informed, loving people. You reply honestly and say it’s been rough. “But I thought you were doing better!” they say in dismay. They don’t mean to be critical but you are left feeling as if you let them down.
At least that’s how it can feel to a depressed person.
The road out of depression is rocky, pitched high and steep, then deep and low. And that’s when you are doing everything right! I draw a picture for my patients. Literally. I have a white board by my chair in my office for the purpose of drawing pictures. This drawing looks like the New York Stock Exchange, a jagged line trending up but full of spikes and valleys.
A few weeks ago I felt like I was doing pretty well, managing work, home, family, including the animals, when I was hit with a very nasty viral infection in my left eye. It hurt like hell. We’ve established that I am no martyr, yes? When the pain was at it’s peak, I had a dream that I was talking to a dear friend from the barn where I keep my mare. My friend is beautiful with two lovely blue eyes, only in my dream she had a third eye with a pencil sticking out of it! Already self-conscience over my puffy face, now I looked like the clone of Charles Laughton as Quasimodo, in The Hunchback of Notre Dame!
This was too much. Once on that slippery slope it was an easy fall into one of those valleys.
How did I get out of it? Very, very slowly.
This therapist (Hi there!) tries to practice what she counsels. One of the best things to do when energy is low and spirits lower is choose one thing, just one thing that is do-able, that if you do it you will look back at the end of the day and say with satisfaction, “I did that!”
I’m still feeling a bit wobbly but here I am writing again which is at once a joy and relief so deep it chokes me up with tears of gratitude. I am going to hold that close to my heart all day long. Yesterday I went to see my mare, Annie, and even though I don’t feel well enough to ride these days, I gave her such a rub down she was purring like Fritz the barn cat. The fresh memory of spending that hour with her gave me something real to grab on to all day long.
It’s like what the Richard Dreyfuss character, a messed up therapist who needed to learn how to relax, said in “What About Bob?”:
Baby steps. Baby steps.
And now for something completely different: