Depression shrinks your universe until it’s just you and your pain.
It’s as though you are locked in a cramped, opaque sphere of sadness. You are the centre of everything but “everything” is a small darkened world ruled by hurt.
You may still manage to interact with the world and do what needs to be done. And even talk and smile if it seems required of you. But the sphere of sadness encloses you as you travel through your day. The view through the sphere is hazy and muted. Colours are faded. Shapes are distorted, and things outside the sphere are not quite in focus.
During a bout of depression, this tiny sphere and your central position within it can become all there is.
Depression makes you feel isolated and alone. The universe shrinks to just you. The beauty and grandeur of the universe get shunted aside and replaced with the mundane and the dismal.
When you are in this hard place, taking action can be difficult. But, if you can force yourself to get outside and walk for a while, the benefits can be immediate. You might need to push against an overwhelming lethargy. You might need to bully yourself up from the chair or off the bed. Perhaps you’ll need to make a bargain with yourself.
“I’ll walk for just 5 minutes. If I don’t feel any better, I’ll turn around and go home.”
If possible, walk in an open space like a park or a beach. But, even a crowded city street will do.
Concentrate on the rhythm of your steps. The sound of your feet hitting the ground one after another. Notice how the sound changes depending on the surface you are walking on. The slap of pavement or tile, the rustle of grass, the crunch of a gravel path.
What other sounds can you hear? Identify them one by one as you walk. What can you smell? What can you feel?
Soon, the sphere of your depression will grow a little less hazy. You’ll once again get a clear view of the sky and the ground and the colours and the people and other living things. You’ll feel the breeze and the sun on your face, hear the sounds of life around you.
Gradually, you’ll remember that you are just a tiny but vital part of the whole resplendent universe. Putting yourself back inside the universe can heal you, at least temporarily. Seeing yourself in the greater context can break open the sphere of sadness that traps you.
Paradoxically, recognising that you are just an insignificant speck in the vastness of the universe can make you feel mighty and full of power. To begin becoming whole again, you must first be greatly diminished.
Of course, walking is not going to cure your depression. And, even if walking does make you feel better, your depression will likely come back. That’s just the brutal truth.
But, if nothing else, it can give you a break from the pain. It can release you from your dark sphere of sadness and allow you to glimpse the wider universe for a while. And, that experience may give you the extra boost of courage and energy you need to keep fighting depression until you win.
And, walking costs nothing, needs no special equipment and can be done just about anywhere. So, if depression is holding you in its horrid embrace right now, screw up your courage and strike a blow against it. Get yourself up and out the door. Put one foot in front of the other. Walk somewhere. Anywhere. Just do it!