Depression: So I’ve got this host who thinks she’s got the better of me. Things are going along far too well for her in 2020. She’s started a new job and her business is really picking up. She’s getting dangerously perky. Could do with a bit of help reminding her that I’m still here, waiting in the wings.
Pandemic: Sure! I can help with that.
Depression: She’s a real people person, likes to be helping people, so if you could cut her off from folks for a bit that’d be great.
Pandemic: Sure! I can do that.
Depression: And if she has to spend all her time in front of a computer to talk to people, well that’d be even better.
Pandemic: Not a videocall fan then? Sure! I can do that.
Depression: Amazing! I also think it would be a laugh to switch on her worry-mode. I’ve had some ideas.
Pandemic: Sure, fire away.
Depression: Well, I’m thinking about regularly drip-feeding sad and anxiety-inducing stories…
Pandemic: Good idea…how about I arrange a daily TV briefing that she’ll not be able to avoid, in fact, feel compelled to watch? I can get a range of random, inconsistent politicians and some scientists they won’t listen to, and get them to talk international crisis with local impact for a while?
Depression: Hee Hee. That should do it! Oh, and if they can really come across like they don’t have control of this, that’ll press her control freak buttons too. Brilliant!!
Pandemic: Well, I can go further if you like and make sure that the news programmes are pretty negative as well – get her heartbreaking irrationally for people she doesn’t even know?
Depression: Perfect. She’ll definitely do that – eternally tearful – love it! Now what all about all the “self-care” stuff she does? I have to admit, they’re pretty strong for this one.
Pandemic: Not a problem, Big D. For a start, I’ll stop her from being able to go to the beach or walking on the coast path for a couple of months.
Depression: You can do that?
Pandemic: Sure I can! Restricting people’s movement is what I do best, my friend!
Depression: Man – she’s not going to like that. Haircuts? Massages?
Pandemic: Out of the picture. No way. I’ll put them on hold for…oh…say ….4 months minimum.
Depression: God, you’re good. So you’re saying no face to face interaction with others, more screentime, stuck at home, no beach….this is good, this is good. Just what I need to get the upper hand again. It might take a few weeks – she’ll think “she’s got this” and write it on her lightbox, but she’ll recognise me eventually. I mean I’m doing it for her own good.
Pandemic: Yeah, sure you are!!
Depression: No seriously, I am! She knows that it makes her stronger to go through this. She knows too that she’ll get pretty low and just have to ride it out. That’s all I want really, just to remind her who’s boss here. I know what she’ll do, she’ll try and focus on the things that she CAN do as opposed to the things she CAN’T.
Pandemic: And I bet she’ll write lists of them!
Depression: You got it! Well, it's been great to meet you, always hoped we would, that someday I’d be face to face with that illusive Pandemic that people talk about and dismiss. And here we are. If it’s OK I’ll keep hold of your number and get back in touch if I need to.
Pandemic: Anytime my friend. I’m everywhere these days and have no plans to go anywhere soon……
To be continued....
Wouldn’t it be great to follow this up with stories of strength and victory? In the true battle speak which is often associated with depression: we fought daily, sometimes valiantly, sometimes cowardly.
What were my strategies?
Were my days planned with military precision?
What were my weapons?
Did I avoid Depression’s stealth moves?
Did I beat the enemy?
Did I heck!! Who does? I was low, I cried a lot, I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror, I mourned the loss of control on my life, I was angry, short-tempered. But you carry on.
Depression isn’t a one-off battle. It’s a sticky part of you that you just need to be able to recognise and then in your own way deal with. Fighting it gets you nowhere I’ve found. I’m not saying it's easy and I’m not saying I didn’t badmouth the Big D many times! And the Big P! But sometimes you’ve just got to ride it out.
Being self-aware and, through time, being able to recognise if you’re on a bike with stabilizers and spokey-dokeys, slowing rolling down an incline, gripping hold of the handlebars with a soft landing at the bottom. Or on a kamikaze descent with my eyes closed in the Tour de France in pursuit of the yellow jersey! If you’re like me, you’ll end up in a heap, broken by the side of the road. Yellow isn’t flattering up near my face so I wouldn’t want it anyway!!
We are all having to ride it out just now. Loss, anger, boredom, worry – who hasn’t felt that this year? These feelings aren’t exclusive to those suffering from depression, not by a long shot. If I can take one positive from it then that would be being able to draw on my experience of living with depression over many years. I’ve woven the parachute many times over as they say – stocking up on self-care activities and mindfulness in preparation for the times when I need it, when I’m falling.
Maybe that made the ride easier, maybe it didn’t. It was just the ride. Just as it is. Just as I am.
Pandemics and Depression are indeed a match made in heaven. But Depression is not monogamous, it likes to play the field. It will find another partner and will make its loved up presence known, often when you least expect it. The sad thing would be if you were always expecting it. That’s a hard, exhausting place to live. I don’t want to live there. And so I will keep building my self-care package just for me.
I will keep on running. I will keep on gardening. I will keep on being mindful. I will keep on eating well. I will keep on dressing well. I will keep on keeping on. Hope you will too.
#itsoktofeelshit #rideitout #selfcare #mentalhealth #itsoknottobeok #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthawareness #wellness #mindfulness #wellbeing #depression #blackdog #lockdown #pandemiclife #keeponkeepingon