I’ve read articles that a quality of mentally strong individuals is resiliency. To be able to look hardships in the face and move beyond them. Bounce back if you will…
Resiliency is a tough quality to employ when you suffer from depression. Remember in the early days of cartoons, the coyote would try to light a fuse on fire to release the anvil that would fall on the head of the road runner at just the right moment? Then the fuse would die out and the coyote would run back and relight it. This may have happened one or two more times until finally the fuse would catch rather suddenly and BOOM right in the coyote’s face!
This is as good of a description as any when it comes to trying to embody resiliency with depression. I’m not saying I’m always living on the edge of a deep depression but it’s there. It’s a slippery slope and I’m very aware of this. Recently, there have been several bumps in the road and it is definitely testing me. Like the stupid coyote, when each thing happens, it lights the fuse. At this point, I’m working hard to NOT allow the big BOOM to happen and get sucked down into the dark side.
I will absolutely admit, last year’s major bout of depression was one of the worst I’ve every experienced. I don’t feel it’s on that level again. Instead I feel on the brink of, “wow, my life sucks right now and I don’t see how it can get better”. Part of the issue is that the hits are coming from all aspects of my life. There isn’t any one area where I can feel confident and hang my hat on, “well at least this is going well”.
Most of the mini-crises are happening on the personal realm, however, running is also being affected. Is it the end of the world? Of course not. Do I know I can get better? I’m almost positive I can. But it’s annoying and frustrating so it adds to the chipping away of my resiliency.
Recently, I read two things I liked. The first one is a buzzfeed list of what it’s like to have depression:
The next one is a meme I saw:
What I’ve decided is to go ahead and wallow in the craptastic life happenings right now. I’m just going to accept it. Oh and I’m going to lower my expectations. I am going to give doing one thing different every day (or as close to this as possible) a shot. And like George Costanza, I’m going to go against my instincts when it comes time to make decisions. I don’t believe this is going to make things any better but maybe it will make things less difficult? Or more interesting?
Let it be known, this post isn’t intended to garner any, “you’re great!” comments. As I’ve mentioned before, I think it’s important for me to get more comfortable with talking about my depression. I worked so hard for so long to ignore it and this certainly made things worse.
What do you do when you are faced with several hard knocks at once?
How do you boost your resiliency?
One thought on “resiliency”
Just read this post. It brings back so many memories. And man, that buzzfeed list is right on (so much better at describing depression than most clinical lists).
I was rather lucky to (eventually) find out that my depression, anxiety, narcoleptic issues were strongly tied to celiac disease (I had none of the usual digestive symptoms, just tons of random physical and mental problems). Before that revelation, I learned a lot of strategies that still help me. I got a lot out of depressionforums online, and reading/practicing cognitive behavior therapy (which is handy for that sorting out of the pee in the poolwater of depressive thoughts). I’m super introverted, so never felt comfy with talk therapy, and just had to realize that it was okay for me to choose different treatments. My husband was so good about making sure I ate and went for walks. I did activities like stick juggling and yoyo to work on the motor control probs. And read Harry Potter for escapism. I didn’t bother trying to read Camus, and stayed away from dark, existentialist comedies (I don’t think I’ll ever try watching Royal Tenenbaums again). I had to learn to go easy on myself with mentally challenging tasks, how I spent my precious energy, and fulfilling social expectations. That was so hard to do without feeling guilty!
It still felt like I was skating on thin ice much of the time. Trying to build strength and stability up over time with each exercise, positive choice, brave action, getting out of bed, etc. Depression does such weird things to our sense of time. I remember having the mantra: I’ve got to hang around to find out how J.K. Rowling ends the Harry Potter stories. Otherwise, life felt impossibly long.
But even when we don’t feel it’s possible, things can get better. I figure depression/anxiety is one of the body’s ways of alerting us to something drastically wrong, like heart disease, autoimmune attacks, or an unhealthy environment/lifestyle. Hanging in there, learning coping skills and how to mitigate your triggers, mentoring others who are going through it — all that can make you a stronger and more compassionate person.
We still have SO much to learn — as individuals, a society, and especially in science. Psychiatry is still in its infancy, but I’m excited to see what we’ll find out in our lifetimes. I can’t wait until we look at the DSM with the same curiosity that we do the texts of Galen and Hippocrates.
Best wishes to you — keep fighting the good fight.