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The dark hours of the night

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.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I, too, have an ongoing battle with depression. And to MK Princess I would say that many people do not respond to medical therapy. I spent a fortune on doctor visits and various medications before I finally figured out that it wasn't helping and the only person who could help me was myself. I needed to change my thinking, and I've had some success, but it's an ongoing process. Writing helps me a lot. The Spark community helps me more than any drug I ever took.

    I, too, use the "bubble" technique for invasive thoughts, but I like the addition of categorizing them with colors. I have those same black bubbles about my high crime neighborhood and my spouse's underemployment, and also a black one of fear about health issues. I'm sorry you have sleep issues, but it's nice to know I'm not alone in this.
    Wishing you better bubbles! emoticon
    2900 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/18/2010 8:14:17 AM
    The visualization is fascinating. It reminds me of the background on your sparkpage. I think you have found a powerful voice in your writing... The blogs are inspiring and they provoke thought.
    2903 days ago
    Depression...something I am all too familiar with. I, too, used to have problems with a million thoughts rushing through my head. I now sleep with a notepad and pen on my night stand. As a thought pops into my mind, I immediately write it husband just loves it when I do it in the middle of the night and pop my reading light on so I can see what I'm writing...but he lists are HUGE therapy for me...I have lists for everything...that way I can keep my mind as clear as possible.

    I wish you the best dealing with your depression...
    As always,
    Stay Strong!!
    2903 days ago
    Oh wow.....what an awesome way to control those thoughts. The visualization is gorgeous. I am sorry, however, that you struggle with depression. I am assuming that you have talked with a doctor and sought medical advice? There are also lots of audio tapes that do guided the beach, mountains etc. It might help to have the audio activity to focus your mind. I have found them to be helpful. Also, white noise machines which play every sound imaginable might quiet the thoughts. Lastly, I highly recommend essential oils such as lavender on your pillow. Wishing you all the best........
    2903 days ago
    Beautiful, beautiful solution you created for yourself. Absolutely lovely. I use visualization all the time, and love a book, which may still be in print, by Shakti Gawain "Creative Visualization."

    Have you ever used Bach's Flower Remedies? There's one called Rescue Remedy that I especially love, and have recommended it to many people for anxiety, and they all seem to love it.

    Hearts and flowers to you, and all the colors of the rainbow!!!
    2903 days ago
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    You have a way of capturing and sharing experiences that really touches me. I love rainbows and flowers, they are the essence of good days. By far most of my days today. I never expressed the good thoughts in color; I love that. Contrary to your experience, sleep was my escape. I used to have Black mornings where I didn't want to get up; sometimes black days. I did call them that---at the time, I didn't even recognize it as depression. I have a feeling it ruled a good part of my life and I didn't know any different. Not today! Life really is great at 68! Thank you for sharing! Joy
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    2903 days ago
    You really ARE a unique and creative person. The imagery you use is so strong and interesting. Did you learn this technique somewhere or come up with it yourself? I have dealt with depression in my life and I know how discouraging and difficult the insomnia can be. I used to have all kinds of issues around going to bed. I do have a number of techniques I have used that helped to quiet my thoughts and allow me to fall asleep. I won't burden you if you are not interested but if you are just let me know.

    I hope you are on a path to discovering how to rid yourself of this terrible affliction. You can beat it. I know it. I haven't had a major episode in 6 years.

    I am glad you are blogging and I hope you realize that you are a rare jewel.
    2903 days ago
    Beautifully written!
    2903 days ago
    I'm so sorry you have to go through this every night but I have to say, you write beautifully and eloquently - maybe that can be another bubble? I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

    2903 days ago
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