Beating Depression, One Day At a Time
By kmcdade on January 16, 2009
I left work early today, not because it’s the Friday before a three-day weekend, but because I was paralyzed by anxiety and depression. This is an ongoing condition, but today I don’t even remember how or why I became depressed. Was it the overwhelming chatter of the fifth graders, or the incessant “I need help!” of the kindergartners? I’m not sure. I simply became unable to function, and had to leave the room in the middle of the kindergarten class to take a quick walk. Fortunately, since I’m only the computer lab assistant, there were other adults there, so this was not a problem.
I knew that I could leave once the students had all gone for the day. But what should I do? Should I go home and try to recuperate? Or should I head out to a local bloggers’ gathering, and try to revive myself in the company of others? I almost decided to go out, but I didn’t have a bike lock, so I’d have had to stop and get one. I could have done that, but then I realized that I’d have to come back on mass transit at rush hour, with my bike (it’s all uphill from the pub to my house). I didn’t feel like dealing with all of that, so I went home.
Even at home, I had a hard time getting my act together. I sat and read a few things online, torturing myself with thoughts of what was wrong with me, and knowing that I really ought to be fixing dinner and doing a bit of cleanup.
My current treatment for depression is medication, occasional visits with a therapist, and a regimen of mindfulness (suggested by the therapist). I’m supposed to work on deep breathing and meditation and read a book called The Mindful Way Through Depression. The book says that the problem with people like me is that we ruminate on our depression. We analyze it, try to figure out what’s wrong with us, try to figure out how to fix it. And what we really need to do is learn to focus on being instead of doing. We need to accept ourselves, non-judgmentally.
It sounds really good. I think I fundamentally agree with it. But like other methods of dealing with depression, it still seems to come down to just saying, “go away, depression.” And then expecting it to go away. You’re supposed to change your thought patterns. But when I get depressed, my mind does not believe that’s going to work. How the hell am I supposed to ignore it, or let it go, or get over it? The idea of just making it go away seems laughable.
So, what to do?
I decided to just take my prescription, like a good patient. I had already taken my meds. I did practice deep breathing during the day, even when I felt the depression coming on. The next step was to try meditation. I pulled out the CD that came with my book, and did a ten-minute breathing meditation before my family came home. And before I did that, I typed out most of this entry.
It’s not a miracle cure. I’m still feeling pretty down, but between the blogging and the meditation, my paralysis is gone. I’m a human being again, for now, and willing to keep trying.