I caught a glimpse of light at the end of my tunnel yesterday evening. I don’t know about other depressives, but for me the crucial thing is not to run in a grasping and needy fashion towards that first glimmer of hope, but acknowledge the beginnings of optimism warming my soul. Then rest brain.
Today I am up and am almost at the end of a half day back at work. My black dog is taking his afternoon nap. I am focused on rewrites for my fourth book.
I am not pushing hard. To use a horsey analogy, I’m back in the saddle and could probably negotiate some easy jumps, but if you’re looking for dressage, I’m off to hide in the tack room.
Whenever I feel my black dog beginning to howl, the most important thing for me to do is stop. Allow myself to shut down so that as much energy as possible can be focused on healing the trauma that has triggered the depression in the first place.
The second I sense I’m no longer helpless, I start to put the building blocks in place for routine and creative work.
Some might find it strange, but I often have extraordinary creative impulses as I begin to nurture myself out of the worst excesses of a depressive episode. Whatever else happens,in some important way I feel I travel lighter emotionally after a serious incident.
While the black dog takes a siesta, with my wooly hat in place, I am back at my desk. This is important as long as I am disciplined about not doing too much in the first couple of days.
When hope dawns, we need to help provide fertile emotional soil in which that feeling can grow. For me, that’s best achieved in finding little things I can be proud of, engaged with, that stop me incessantly ruminating.
These activities help with the disassociative feelings that sometimes haunt me too. I know I am functioning because at some level I can see what I have done. I don’t think it matters at this early stage of recovery whether it’s a hobby, social activity or return to a few hours work which enables this process. Ultimately it’s about regaining some confidence, self belief and future hope.
I’ve gone through phases where I’ve genuinely believed medication should do the heavy lifting part of recovery. It’s never worked for me. Now I think the core ‘treatment’ is self belief and excellent self care. I’m not meaning the spa treatment or dinner out although I wouldn’t discount either. Whatever floats your boat.
I’m referring to something deeper. If we do not take our own deepest yearnings, positive and negative, seriously we risk leading reactive half lives.
However uncomfortable and darn right painful depression is, the black dog is an habitual reminder that I must be my own best friend, but my mentor, guide and playmate. If I don’t love and honour myself how can I expect others to do so?
So my love today has been shown in doing what I most enjoy. Writing. I am not going to even attempt to banish black dog. He is here. But while he snoozes I’ll look out for me.