Depressive Episodes need not be depressing ...


Here's an interesting thing: I am going through a depressive episode and yet I am not feeling down about it. How could that be?

I had a chat with my psychiatrist and we came to the same conclusion: because I am managing to maintain a happy mental sate, the depression is expressing itself physically. In other words, keep my head right and my body goes beserk! That's not a very encouraging thought so I decided to look at it again and phrase it differently: keep my head sane (safe and sound) and let my body do the rest.

I don't ignore my body anymore. I did that for too long and it didn't do me any good. Rather, I listen to it and do my best to take care of it. I recognise that some days I do a better job than others but at least I have a go.

Besides, if I am honest, I much prefer physical pain to mental agony. Anybody who has suffered from deep clinical depression or manic agitation says the same thing: mental pain is the most dreadful hell on earth.

So, all in all, there is no need for me to go into drama queen mode. I am feeling unwell (very unwell actually) and that's enough. I don't need to add another layer of suffering on top of that.

There are things that help ease my physical discomfort:

  • Lying down always helps. There is something about putting my feet up and my head down that eases the pain I feel in my gut, and in all my joints. My head often hurts too.
  • Unfortunately, eating also helps. Eating calms me generally and eating things that I enjoy helps override pain signals with pleasure signals.
  • A good massage is excellent to give my body some TLC. Unfortunately, I don't have a built-in masseur around the house...
  • Reading is good when my body hurts because it takes my attention away from the pain.
  • Writing is also good because it enables to release the pain as I write it down.

There are other things that DON'T help me at all:

  • Asking 'why me?' and feeling continuously sorry for myself. I do acknowledge the pain but I make sure I don't get too attached to it. Simple but not necessarily easy to do - I know. Well worth the effort though.
  • Pushing against the pain and getting impatient with it. This only makes things worse so a little gentleness with myself is a good idea.
  • Dwelling on 'always' and 'never' thoughts, such as 'I am always in pain' and this will never stop'. That kind of thinking is sure to depress me even further.
  • Pretending I don't mind being in pain. Of course I mind! I am not that crazy that I enjoy hurting all over. I make sure I acknowledge the pain before soothing or releasing it.

Two thoughts are particularly powerful for me. I recognise they might be somewhat esoteric for some of you but I'll share them anyway:

  1. This too shall pass
  2. My pain is not that important in the grand scheme of things.

These two thoughts help me keep things in perspective and stop me from disappearing up my own black hole (or - in less elegant language - where the sun don't shine!).

Right - my back is hurting now so I need to get up and move around.

I'll see you again soon. In the meantime, take good care of YOU.

many many thanks for

many many thanks for letter.will write soon.

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