The Problem with Depression. Part Two.

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There are so many problems with depression that there will probably be twelve billion parts to this collection of essays.

The first problem with depression, if you read The Problem with Depression. Part One, was that depression is depressing.

Brilliant and simple. And obvious.

And yet, not always obvious.

Part Two of “The Problem with Depression” focuses on the fact that the condition of depression makes it really difficult to ‘keep your chin up’ or ‘lighten up’ or otherwise keep your head high.  Although it feels good to talk about getting through tough times after the fact, it’s not as easy to be positive about the future – or even the next day – when you’re in the actual throes of the tough time. With depression, it’s pretty much impossible.

So again, that seems pretty obvious, right?

But it’s not so obvious.

Because a lot of folks make it through a REALLY TOUGH TIME only to then find themselves struggling mightily to manage the tiny ups and downs of a normal, routine day.  But because they made it through the REALLY TOUGH TIME, those same folks think everything should now be fine. And easier.

But REALLY TOUGH TIMES aren’t always followed by easier, finer times. For some people, the tiny ups and downs of the day don’t feel tiny. Sometimes even tiny things feel big. Sometimes they feel difficult. And sometimes, they feel too big and difficult to manage, even though they are relatively tiny compared to REALLY TOUGH TIMES.

I used to wonder how all of the people in my neighborhood, at school, and at work were managing to do so much and enjoy life when every day was so exhausting. Eventually I realized that not everybody’s day-to-day life is exhausting. Not everybody has to work so hard to get the simple things done.  Not everybody has to ponder every detail of the day until thinking about the day overshadows living the day.

Many, many people are able to get dressed, get out, be out and do things without having to think and rethink the who/what/why/when/how.  I even know people who show up for every event or activity they say they’ll show up for, regardless of whether they’re energized, tired or recovering from a bad day.

A long time ago, I was jealous of people who lived life more easily than I was capable of living it.

But something changed. I began to view other people’s ability to live easily as a sign that an easier life was possible, regardless of the wiring I was born with in my brain.

So, what does it look like to force oneself to live easier?

Here are five of my learned habits for living easier:

Habits for Living Life Easier:

[1] Acknowledge the bad days.

By bad day, I don’t mean a day that’s bad. Although it could be a day that’s bad. Something yucky happens at work or at home. Sure, it could be a bad day.

But it could also just be you having a bad day.

If that’s the case, acknowledge it.

[2] Isolate the badness.

Try to distinguish the bad from the not bad. This is an especially helpful tool for those who are quick to catastrophize.

If a part of your life is giving you grief, remember to acknowledge the parts that are okay and not bothering you. It will help you to keep perspective.

Draw a pie chart and see how big the bad part is compared to the not bad part. Pie is always helpful.

[3] Get the basics done.

Do your homework. Go to work. Carry out your obligations. Show up for important things.

You don’t have to be winning or charming or the life of any party, but make sure to get the basics done so you don’t have the weighty baggage of being behind when life gets easier.

[4] Think about illness.

I know, I know. That sounds weird.

But it helps to think about how you handle a cold or a flu. Do you question it? Doubt it? Fight it?

Do you feel bad about yourself for having caught a cold or flu? Do you blame yourself and swear it will NEVER happen again?

Of course not.

If you’re even somewhat normal, you eventually have to concede that the cold or flu is (1) bigger than you, (2) stronger than you; (3) not going away as quickly as you would like, and (4) totally annoyingly disruptive.

Then you realize you have an excuse to lay around and watch junk on television, so you do.

If something yucky has happened or you’re feeling yucky, let it ride. Don’t keep checking to see if it’s gone or over. Don’t promise yourself that it will be over soon.

Accept it. Nurture it a bit.

And be comforted in the knowledge (yes, the knowledge) that yuckiness usually passes within a few days.

FYI: My yuckiness usually takes a solid five days to work itself out. And it helps me to know that. I can plan better when I feel the yuck descending without my permission.

[5] Stop feeling bad about feeling bad.

It’s lousy enough to feel bad. It’s even more lousy to feel bad about the way you feel.

If you feel bad, you feel bad.

Get some exercise, get some sleep, get some extra sleep and some extra exercise.

Eat some soul-filling food.

Call a friend – or isolate – whichever works for you.

But don’t feel bad about the fact that your wonky mind is being wonky. Then, refer back to (4).

Okay, everybody. Back to life!

Go live it. And live it easily whenever you can.

See you back here soon for Part Three.

xoxo, d

6 thoughts on “The Problem with Depression. Part Two.

  1. Who knew when I was googling that I would find you and Lizzie :)!
    I’m just trying to find a different perspective and maybe take care of myself a little better. I look forward to reading more. Thank you

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  2. your very accurate and concrete description for depression should be in some handout for families and other people who are well meaning but oblivious and don’t understand the difference between depressed and sad, sad is a deep dark blue, with a smudge of purple or green, depressed is an out of focus grey. forgive my run on sentence…..

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  3. D, You know me, I am the opposite of depressed. To me any day above ground is a good day. I have known people in my life that were crippled by depression. I confess that at one point or the other I said the absolute wrong things. It’s good to understand.

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  4. Amen! But in your “who/what/why…” part of the introduction, don’t forget the “where.” The where is very important to some of us.

    Like

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