Saturday, March 28, 2015

Walk Before You Can Run

"I didn't know why I was going to cry, but I knew if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of the throat and I'd cry for a week."
~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Depression.

It seems to touch everyone at some point in life. Whether it's you or someone you love.

We've been battling with depression in one of our children for awhile now and it's heartbreaking, frustrating, scary and exhausting.

It's a crazy illness that there is no physical therapy for. You can have better living through chemistry, but there isn't a PT program where twice each week you can relearn how to be happy with a few simple exercises.

It's completely in the hands of the sufferer to find that program. It's very easy to want to stay in bed, sleep all day and not interact. It's comfortable in its loneliness.

So like any illness or injury you have to slowly regain strength or relearn how to function. You can't just go run a marathon two weeks after knee surgery. You have to work back into a program to where walking is comfortable, then running, then running farther every day, week, month.

Depression can be the same. Slowly accepting social offers, making yourself get outside, trying to find the things you enjoyed doing or new hobbies that keep you active and occupied. Then slowly the rhythm of life doesn't become so foreign or difficult but easy and natural.

In an earlier blog called The Ugly Sweater I used that metaphor. We wear our sadness like an invisible ugly sweater that we hate but at the same time is comfortable and keeps us warm and safe. Sometimes people catch a glimpse of it but most of the time we hide our sweaters under layers so no
one knows.

Too often, it is believed that it's a sign of weakness and one should just be able to look at the bright side and be happy,  just take off the stupid sweater. If only it was as easy as a wardrobe change.

 I love a quote from The Book Theif by Markus Zusak: "Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day."

That's living a life of depression; feeling slapped and usually smiling on the outside regardless.

So if you're walking in a world of depression, I hope you can find the courage to set out at a jog every so often, and eventually try a run. There may never be a finish line but the race itself may take on a new purpose with the prize being life and all it can have to offer.

And as you're running your sweater may also unravel.

"That's the thing about depression. A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees an end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it's impossible to ever see the end."
~Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

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