Paradoxically, I’ve found newfound perspectives of patience, humor, and focus borne of depression itself that have strengthened my resolve to survive and recover. I’m hoping that through this blog, you can grab onto a positive idea to bridge whatever mental health gap you may be facing. I can’t speak for all of us, but like a line cook, I’m flipping the patty to show that it’s not all a raw deal. These are the ‘Upsides of Down.’
When I’m depressed, or flat, I think more slowly. I’m more open-minded to other ways of doing things. That is a positive, and enriches my life. I hold onto it and use it later on. I dress creatively, digging through the closet so I can wear the brightest colored clothes I have. Then I see all this stuff I haven’t worn in how long? It’s like free shopping!
When I’m bummin, I’m always on time, never overeat, or overspend. I might be down but I’m not down and out. Money actually piles up. I’m not interested enough in anything to buy it! Occasionally I catch myself oversleeping, but hey…I give myself a break, something else I rarely do. Budgeting, balanced nutrition and self-regulation. Another acceptable by-product of depression. Weird, huh?
Secret weapons: Escape in conversations, music, books, movies and TV. On one occasion, we were to travel to visit my Mother, yet I didn’t want to frighten her with my pain. Have you ever felt that way? I wanted to reschedule, but knew there was never going to be a ‘better’ time that I could count on, so we kept our plans. I got a book from the library that was a memoir written by comic actor. During the flight, I found myself laughing out loud!
My concentration improved. I had planned to play tennis against my husband but when the day arrived, again, I wanted to cancel. He pushed me to surpass my bad mood and try to play anyway. (Tennis while depressed?) My game was focused, powerful and precise. I BLEW him off the court. My phone rang off the hook with invitations. (The ladies wanted me on their side of the net).
Though morose, I smiled, was silent and attentive to the new women in my life. I took in more information than I gave out. I was a much better listener than normal, and I made a pack of new friends I looked forward to seeing on a regular basis.
In 2007 I was ‘feelin it.’ Yet I was highly reliable, organized and determined. I was a volunteer at a mental health drop-in center and developed a meeting for eating disorders. I sent out flyers to psychologists and made sure we were mentioned in the newspaper frequently. I showed up week after week for nearly a year, many times the only one who did. The meeting is still going strong today.
It was hard, but I got a sense of accomplishment that I hold onto today. I think routines are helpful in the war against depression. It wants us to give in, to part with all we hold dear. But I refuse to allow this. If I had never gone through these less than peak experiences, I would not have this mindset. Thanks, depression. Hope you stay away a long time. But if you return, I’ll be ready. You’ve given me enough tools to make it a fair fight. Finally.