Depression – Part II – Taking off the Glasses

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When I first went to a therapist for my depression, my husband was very afraid.  He was scared that I would realize that I was depressed because of our marriage, and the therapist would encourage me to leave him.  Of course, this was not the case.  Our partners are usually not the cause of our depression.  However, they can trigger us into a spiral or exacerbate a situation that will take us down the rabbit hole.

As we sat in bed one night I explained what I had already learned about my depression:  1) That until I was convinced that I would be happier alone than with him, I would not leave him.  I loved my husband! and 2) Depression was like wearing sunglasses with UV ray protection.  Sunglasses allow the light to come in, but not the unhealthy UV rays that might damage your eyes.  Depression allows all the bad stuff to come into our reality, but not all the good stuff that happens each day.  It is like all the good things, the people, actions, words, and positive validations that occur on a moment to moment basis never happen – they are pushed out of our field – our reality – discounted by our mind and body that want to keep us in this state of darkness!  Why??  Don’t know.  Just is.

I had to find a way to let the good stuff in.  I needed to acknowledge each and every positive moment as they occurred.  My therapist had me write down all the good things that happened each day – each time my children smiled their toothy grins and made me smile back; when my husband would bring me coffee every morning – taking great care to make it just as I like it; when a client would praise my work with them; when I would teach a class that left the members happy, tired, and feeling good about their bodies.  I wrote down all the things I was grateful for each day.  All the times I belly laughed or the twinkle came into my eye.

To my surprise my list was pretty long.  I was amazed at the number of times I felt moments of joy throughout the day.  My husband wasn’t that bad!  He must love me – even though he wasn’t perfect!  My children were pretty well behaved.  We all laughed together.  I was starting to re-wire my brain.  Light was entering the dark.  My glasses were coming off!!!  I could SEE!

Did this new way of looking at life (without my glasses) make the depression go away?  No.  Did I still spiral and go down the rabbit hole?  Yes.  Did I still get angry and sullen at times?  Yes.  BUT, reminding myself of all the good that I also experienced that day – or week – or month – helped balance the scales.

The attitude of gratitude can have a significant positive effect on the challenges that depression brings. Remember, depression is not WHO we are (Part I) is it what we struggle with.  We can get lost in the darkness of depression.  We can lose our perspective of reality and see our lives through a filter that only brings in the “bad”, challenges, struggles – the things/people/situations that piss us off, make us sad, make us want to hide.  However, battling depression with the truth of the light in our lives is an effective weapon!

So, get out your pens people.  Start witnessing the smiles, nods, compliments, positive mirroring from others, friends & colleagues you enjoy, validations, giggles, and yummy seconds/moments that DO exist in your lives!

Love to you