Overcoming Deep Depression: You HAVE the POWER!

“Your thoughts and beliefs of the past have created this moment, and all the moments up to this moment. What you are now choosing to believe and think and say will create the NEXT moment and the next day and the next month and the next year.”  ― Louise L. Hays

Image from Deviant Art by_kikuhonda64-d76bhgl

Image from Deviant Art

The Way It Was – These first paragraphs are by way of qualifying myself that I KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT.

When I  was in that deep dark hole of depression, surrounded by that frigid grey fog, cold and blind and alone, the last thing I imagined was that I had any power at all whatsoever, over anything.  Well, maybe I could still move my limbs  (though, why?) and most days I could even go to work, although I could not think well enough to accomplish anything (see, I told you I am flawed), so I can imagine seeing Louise Hay’s quote above and dismissing, out of hand, the idea that I, Gerry, had any power – and I had no understanding at all yet of how my own thoughts and imaginings were causing me such distress, helping to keep me in the dark.

   “I’m not like the rest of you, who live normal lives, white picket fence, 2 kids, a dog, go to the gym after work.”

I thought like a helpless victim.  Surely I was the VICTIM of that familiar cloying darkness that locked me out of life, the spreading dark nothingness that tainted every good thing, like mold growing in the walls, lingering to sicken you after the hurricane is over.  I was drowning!  I was in a life and death struggle (literally) with a something so big, so pervasive, so dark, so enervating, so strong that no matter how hard I tried to make it go away, to distract myself, to pray, to go to therapy, to work a 12-step program (Al-Anon), to write gratitude lists, the next day it was still there to greet me.

I could not find a bootstrap strong enough to lift me, I could not find a friend strong enough to hold me up, life was hopeless and dark and so was I -I just wanted to leave life behind.  Except I had kids I loved very much and they’d already been through a lot.   I could not do that to them (suicide), even after they went to live with their dad and step-mom, who, thankfully for my boys, both had a sense of humor – unlike mom.  They would have been harmed even more than they had already been by living with me while I was so depressed.  So I tied another knot in my rope and held on.  But the darkness, the heaviness, the brain fog, the lassitude, the numbness, they just held on too. I almost gave up, but help came first and Im grateful.

I can hear you tell me about shifting my “stinking thinking,” although many days I would have just looked at you blankly and not even been able to get my head around what you were telling me.  I was just drowning. Like you were speaking but I was under water.  I could hear something through the water but my brain just refused to turn the sounds into meaningful sentences.  I’d probably nod my head and smile, to make you think you had helped me.  I had a most excellent mask.  I told no one I wanted to die. That I had been suicidal off and on for years.  With each episode my plan became clearer. I didn’t even tell  my therapist.  (She never asked, either.  We dealt with my copious day to day distresses – mostly caused BY my depression, not the cause OF it.)ants_teamwork_discoverourworld.jpg

” You can’t help me. No one can. It’s hopeless.  You can’t crawl under here with me, it isn’t safe…soon you too will leave…”

If you think someone may be suicidal, do ASK.  I might have lied, but maybe not.  I felt quite a lot of shame about it all.  I promise your friend won’t suddenly think of it because you asked, and they’ll know someone it could be safe to tell one day even if they don’t today.

So I perfectly understand that you want to reject what I am saying here out of hand.

But here’s the thing.   Can you possibly imagine it being OK to just have fun and be light and happy?  It is so EMPOWERING to know that you HAVE the power to come up for air, you HAVE the STRENGTH to swim out of the undertow and live a life full of meaning (really) and inner peace (mostly) and even times of genuine joy.  Can you imagine the freedom of not being way behind the starting line every morning?  You can do it, yes you can!

I can hear myself now. “Why bother?”  

“Leave me alone with that Polyanna fluff!”

 “Why even try? The undertow is always there inside of me waiting to grab me by the throat and pull me back down to drown.”

“Surely you do not mean to imply that there is still anyone inside me who cares?”  

That’s the kind of self-talk that kept me in the dark.  Oh, I hope you still care or you wouldn’t be reading this.  Yes, there is hope.  If there was for me, there is for you.  And I can only tell you that the solution is inside yourself.  Only you can do this work.  Only you can decide you are going to LIVE.  Not exist.  LIVE.  Empowered and free and happy.

I can give you some tools that helped me and I will.  We can all give you lots of encouragement and coaching.  But ultimately, what you say to yourself inside your head is completely personal and YOU are the only one with the power to change it.

The GREAT GOOD News?  You CAN change it yourself, you HAVE the power.  Really.  You were BORN with it.  Everybody was.

And the key, simple but not at all easy, is in confronting the LYING LIES that your depression/anxiety/mood disorder has been telling you about you, about your life, about your options, about the people around you, about the situations you are in. Imagine, it is as simple, and as maddeningly difficupreeningswan_SFGEB_OHMlt as this…

As humans we have a choice about whether t0 accept an idea  – or NOT.  And you have the power to create a different future just by focusing on what”s POSSIBLE instead of what’s WRONG.

The monkey-chatter, the automatic thoughts you have thought a million times before, the things you say to yourself about yourself, about other people, about your options, about life – most need a good airing out so you can decide what to keep, what to flush.  You can deliberately write a totally different story.  You are worth it but it’s a decision onlyYOU can make.  Believe it or not, your defensive, cynical, victim-attitudes that you think protect you from being hurt, actually are what keep you stuck.  DETACH and LIVE.

“Your thoughts and beliefs of the past have created this moment, and all the moments up to this moment. What you are now choosing to believe and think and say will create the NEXT moment and the next day and the next month and the next year.”  ― Louise L. Hays


NOTE: I wrote this post about a year ago, have edited it a bit here, but I am in a time of shifting again, and it’s worth re-visiting.  I have not been in that deep dark hole for some time, but I get lazy about watching my thoughts, and I get lazy about self-care and I need to remember how far I have come and how I got here from “the way it was.” 

OH, and you can talk to me here if you want and argue why your case is different.   I’d love to have that conversation.

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