Turning depression around

I love me, I love me not

A few weeks ago, every shop we walked into, every commercial break, every restaurant we passed reminded us that the one day of the year when we’re supposed to express our feelings was just around the corner.  Valentine’s season is probably a distant memory by now, and prompts to tell someone special how we feel will no doubt be few and far between for the next eleven months.

That doesn’t mean we have to keep our feelings to ourselves until then.  I’m suggesting choosing someone special, or even an anonymous stranger if that’s easier, to confide in, and to tell them how we feel, not about them, but about ourselves.  If we can still connect to our feelings for others, cling on to that.  It’s always easier, for many reasons, to tell other people how much they mean to us than it is to tell them how worthless we feel.  Giving that worthlessness a voice often makes it sound ridiculous, and those who matter to us – and to whom WE matter – will rip our arguments to shreds, because they don’t agree with us; when we’re well again, neither do we.  When we can’t be convinced otherwise though, we need to be heard and supported, but the listening ear and the shoulder to lean on can only be offered when we ask for them.

If we can’t tell others how we’re feeling, how about starting with someone who’s just as special as anyone else, and by that I mean you?  How about admitting to yourself that you need help to manage and to overcome your depression?  I know how unimaginable the possibility of being in control again is when we’re at our lowest ebb, but if we stay there and don’t at least confront the reality of the illness, we stand no chance at all of rising again with the tide. 

One sentiment at Christmas is that every day can or should be Christmas day.  With the exception of 14th February, every day of every year is a non-Valentine’s Day, so why can’t or shouldn’t every day be a day when we’re free, rather than reminded, to express our feelings?  The more we talk about mental health issues, the more we’ll normalise them, and the more we’ll be able to talk about them without stigma.  That’s the goal I’m working towards in the long term.

Today, my goal is you.  Talk to someone about how you’re feeling.  Ask for help.  Get the support you need.  And get ready to rise again.

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Green Shoots

I’ve had two potted house plants since I moved last year.  They’re both yellow calla lilies.  At my last address, I had a full garden and for the first time in my life, it was up to me to fill it with flowers of my choosing.  Despite my lack of horticultural knowledge, or perhaps because of it, I was proud of the array of colours and scents they produced.  I didn’t automatically share the same confidence in my abilities with house plants.

Both lilies were in full bloom when they were gifted to me.  Over the weeks that followed, they gradually wilted, faded, and dried up, and eventually I only had the soil in their pots as proof that they’d greeted me every morning.  Having successfully grown similar pink lilies from a bulb in my garden, I knew that they should come back this year, but didn’t hold out much hope.

Nonetheless, I’ve placed them on the window ledge daily, in what little daylight and even lesser sunlight we’ve had over the last few months, and I’ve watered them sometimes a little too often.  I’ve done everything I thought I should be doing for them, seeing very little change.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed minute dots of a vibrant green starting to emerge through the soil.  In one pot, there were many; in the other, very few but larger ones.  With each day, the spread of green in both pots has grown – the first signs of encouragement. 

I’ve started to think of this growth in terms of recovery.  When we’re desperate for reassurance that what we’re doing to help ourselves is taking effect, we can lose patience when we don’t see immediate results and give up or change course.  If I’d allowed myself to be disheartened when the soil bore no indication of progress throughout the worst of the winter months, I wouldn’t be rewarded with the fresh, green shoots that now await me each morning.  Indeed, it would have gone against nature for them to appear any sooner, and I’m sure they wouldn’t have lasted if they had.

What’s been happening is that they’ve been taking root and grounding themselves solidly beneath the surface.  Similarly, the techniques that we employ to help ourselves recover might not immediately achieve the desired effect, but the changes they are effecting are deep-rooted.  If we can identify what feeds our recovery, what sheds a warming light and hydrates our growth, all we can do is continue and do more of the same, until the green shoots appear with the promise of full blooms that we can enjoy fully, for however long they last.

There’s still a difference between my two pots.  One of them continues to bear lots of small shoots that don’t seem to be sprouting very highly.  Yet.  The other has two or three thicker, stronger, taller shoots that are standing proud, but alone.  Whether your recovery has multiple small shoots or solitary, resilient ones, keep doing what you’re doing to encourage the growth you’ve already allowed to start, and you’ll be rewarded with a life in full bloom again.

One last thought.  If your blooms of recovery start to wither, remember that the green shoots are an inevitable part of the cycle.  We weren’t made to be unhappy.

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