Monday, January 27, 2014

Overcoming Depression

I'm writing this post because it is now January 23rd. It's cold outside, and wet, and icy. The sun is shining today, but I hadn't really noticed until now. Actually, as I drove to the dentist it was a little blinding. Why does all of this matter? Because for the last several years, I have hated January. Hated it. Maybe I could get through the rest of the months okay: December has Christmas, February is oh so close to March and Spring. It's tolerable at least. But January? It used to be the bane of my existence, and one of the biggest triggers for my depression.

What changed? Me.

I love the saying "Choose to be happy."

I keep this reminder in my home, thanks to a good friend who made me this adorable framed version. But there were times when I couldn't choose even if I wanted to. I remember sitting in my therapist's office one day and her saying the most comforting words: "You can't fix this with a positive mental attitude." I love her for saying that! I knew it was true. To me, depression feels like a brick wall. I am on one side all alone, and on the other side stands everything else in my life, including those I love and the things I desperately desire, all the good things I want to be and do. I want to be on the other side, but there is this stupid brick wall inside my chest and I cannot get past it. There is not a door in this brick wall. One cannot simply "choose" to go around it or through it. It has to be pulled down brick by brick. And that can take some time.

I have worked hard over the last few years tearing down those bricks one by one. I imagine the tools people use will be different, but I now believe that depression is a disease that is treatable and in some cases even curable. Now I can make the choice. When I'm feeling down, I can take a step back, evaluate the scene before me, remove any bricks that are being stacked, and keep the brick wall at least passable. I CAN choose to be happy. When someone tries to put a brick in my way, I can say, "No, thank you. I don't need any bricks. How about you take care of your own bricks?"

And do you want to know something? It is beautiful on the other side of that wall. And January isn't so bad after all.