Giving Depression the Boot

Ever feel down? I mean REALLY down?

A couple months ago I was wrestling with putting on my socks and boots when it dawned on me that one of my socks was too thick for my boot. So I did the only thing that seemed fitting at that moment: I collapsed weeping onto the couch.

As I bawled, I found myself pondering the fact that most people aren’t defeated by a single sock and shoe. In fact, lots of people not only handle this same challenge every morning with finesse, many of them dress themselves fully and even go on to do productive things with the rest of their day like hold down jobs or watch youtube.

But this small challenge left me feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

I’m fine now, but it was an eye-opening moment.

Which leads me to my question of the day: What do we do when it dawns on us that we’re not coping particularly well?

They say that knowledge is power, and I tend to agree, so the first thing I did when I dried my eyes after my little sock-inspired bawl-fest on the couch was put aside my denial and admit that I was depressed.

The second thing I did was try to get a handle on what this newsflash really meant. After all, if knowledge is power, then perspective is power harnessed. What meaning was I going to assign to my little discovery?

I decided that no matter what I was feeling right then (which happened to be hopeless and fatigued) my feelings were NOT an accurate portrait of my life or my future. I embraced the viewpoint that, at that very moment, my body/brain chemistry was askew, kinda like a broken thermostat, and that I needed to do whatever it took to get it fixed so I could start measuring my life in a healthy, accurate fashion once again.

The third thing I did was let someone who loved me know that I was having a hard time.

Letting people who care about us know when we are struggling is a great step.

There are lots of ways to do this. For instance, we can wear T-shirts with informative slogans.  One of my sisters bought me a T-shirt once featuring the cartoon of a cow lying on its back with all four hooves in the air. The caption?  “Really. I’m fine.” A shirt like this is a great choice when you realize you’re in trouble but there’s a part of you that still wants to stay in denial.

And later, when you’ve progressed beyond the denial phase into the expedient-solutions phase you can always change into the T-shirt I saw at the mall that said bluntly, “I’ll have a Venti Decaf Vodka Marijuana Latte to go.”

But I was beyond both those phases and into the I’m-serious-about-dealing-with-this phase, so I picked up the phone and called one of my sisters, telling her I realized I was depressed and that I was going to take steps to deal with it.

The same three baby-steps that got me going in the right direction can work for you, too. The next time you feel numb or blue—and find your lifestyle hamstringed as a result—try this:

1. Forget the denial. If you’ve been depressed, admit it. If you’re not sure, talk to your doctor or visit www.depression-screening.org and take their online evaluation.

2. Be intentional about what perspective you embrace and what meaning you assign to your depression. For example, don’t tell yourself you’re a mess and will never be whole again. Instead, embrace the perspective that your depression is NOT an accurate reading of your future and that your emotional thermostat is wonked but fixable. This viewpoint will not only make you feel better, it’s the truth!

3. Take an action, like making an appointment to see a doctor or calling someone who cares and telling her you’re depressed. Talk about further steps you can take to address the problem.

Depression is treatable. Everybody has seasons when they get depressed, but no one has to stay there. If and when you experience depression, there’s hope. You CAN climb out of the pit, one baby step at a time.

Even if you are only wearing one shoe.

One thought on “Giving Depression the Boot

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  1. I so agree. This post reminded me of a book I read years ago about how people do/should handle serious illness. One insight offered was that the person will feel better about what is happening to them if they are actively involved in the decision-making in regard to their treatment. I think that advice, as you say, works for depression as well — in fact, in all areas of our lives. Being proactive scares the boogy man away.

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