Saturday, May 15, 2010
Depression is a crippling condition that pervades every aspect of your life. It affects how you eat, feel about yourself, perform at work and interact with others. During a major episode, getting out of bed is just about the hardest thing anyone can ask you to, never mind getting dressed, going to work and being a contributing member of society.
But for me, the worst aspect of depression is the long, lonely hours in the dead of night. My experience with depression is that I will go to bed when I get the courage to, and I'll lie there with thousands of thoughts rushing through my head at warp speed. And they're noisy too. I can't sleep because I'm trying to grasp what my head is trying to tell me, I'm trying to make sense of the cacophany so I can fix the way I'm feeling. And I just want to get some rest!
When I do finally drop off, I'll have vivid dreams that may or may not wake me up...and I'm so exhausted in the morning that I can't rouse myself and this is added to the feeling of despair at getting up anyway. It's an awful condition and there aren't words to describe just how debilitating it is.
One of the exercises that I've adopted to help me cope is visualisation. And I'm starting to get quite good at it. The idea is that, when I lie down and the house is dark, brooding and silent...I close my eyes and imagine that every one of those noisy thoughts is trapped in a bubble. All of these bubbles are kept in a glass vat with a tightly sealed lid. Every thought has its own colour and this helps me to identify and categorise them.
Those black ones are the worries about life - money, my husband's continuing unemployment, my daughter's neurological condition, crime, etc. Those dark blue ones are about work and the stresses there. That tiny silver one has been trying to get my attention for a while and it contains a song that I like. Those yellow ones are my children, that pink one is my mom...the orange ones contain anything to do with SP and my journey to a better me.
They're still very active and bounce around the glass vat, jostling for position. It's almost like they know what the purpose of the exercise is. What I do then, after quieting the noise and keeping my thoughts trapped for a few minutes, I then consider which one I'm going to give my attention to. I try to stick with the bright, cheerful colours because those are the good thoughts, the ones that can lift my mood. If at all possible, I avoid the dark colours entirely.
If I release a black thought, they're very strong and overwhelm me entirely. This makes me lose control of the glass vat and then they all escape and we're back to where we started. So I wait, and I watch until I see a birght one that comes to the surface under the lid. I'll open the lid a tiny crack and let it out, quickly sealing it again. Then I turn my back on the rest of my thoughts and I concentrate just on the one in my hands.
I break it open gently and let the courful smoke go free, curling around my shoulders and arms. I let it envelop me. How does it make me feel, what is it about, can I learn from it? I consider all of this. I breathe deeply, steadily...I stay with that one thought until I finally drift off. And I do it all again the next night.