The Depression Pit
I’ve been going through some shit the past few weeks.
I won’t get into too many details (I know, the over-sharer is keeping quiet), but suffice to say it finally drove me into a pretty deep, anxiety-riddled depression. I’ve only come out of it, hm, twenty minutes ago?
As such, it’s time to write about it. FYI: next time it happens I’ll try to write about it in the moment.
My particular brand of Bipolar has blessedly few depression episodes. Usually, my low consists of a few days of listlessness, followed by a night with one or two too many alcoholic drinks (I know, I know… alcohol is a depressant. I’m a happy drunk though, so… moving on…), and then I wake up with, if not a smile, at least a more positive attitude.
Every now and then, though, situations occur that coincide with one of these dips and I find myself in a pit.
It feels like I’m in one of those jungle pit traps, injured and scared, knowing there’s no possible way to climb the walls to freedom. It doesn’t keep me from scrabbling for purchase, fingers tearing out clumps of mud and roots. At some point, I always realize what’s happening. The futility of it drives a stake into my heart and I sit down, sinuses aching as I try not to break down into a fit of crying.
To keep the jungle pit metaphor going… after a while, I start to worry about everything. Was that a cracking branch? Is something sniffing at the top? Did I forget to pay the water bill?
Then the negative self-talk creeps in…
It’s your fault you fell in this pit.
If you’d been smarter, none of this would’ve happened.
You didn’t pay the water bill because you’re a moron.
It’s taken me years to get negative self-talk under control when I’m even or in a manic episode… I don’t have that down when I’m depressed yet. Why? Because when I already feel absolutely shitty about myself, I agree with every word.
You’re right, I should’ve watched where I was going…
You’re right, if I was smarter, I probably would be doing better…
You’re right, I am a moron and won’t be anything else…
What Can You Do?
So… how do I keep from drowning in all this bullshit self-destruction?
I talk. Mostly to my spouse, but pretty much anyone who will listen when in need.
There is a really big trick to this though, and it’s one I think a lot of people miss: When you talk about all this, try not to look for solutions.
If it sounds weird, then you’re going to want to give it a shot.
Have you ever just sat down with someone, a friend or loved one, and shot the shit for hours, just talking about everything that hurts or has gone wrong? If so, you know that feeling of absolute relief when the conversation is over.
It’s important to have buy in from the person you’re chatting with. Make sure they know ahead of time you don’t want solutions… you just need an ear.
It’s pouring all your shit out your head and onto the ground, pointing at it, saying: “This is horrible”, and receiving affirmation from your friend that, “holy shit. Yeah. That is horrible.”
I’m convinced, and I think there’s a little science behind this, the act of finishing that conversation results in a flush of endorphins, which gives a little burst of positivity in an otherwise absolute-shit world.
Sometimes all we need is that little boost. A helping hand in the dark that gives us the reassurance “everything is going to be okay”.
Sometimes, that help is what finally gives us the strength to pull ourselves out of the pit because even the best help in the world isn’t going to do it for us.