Isolation + Depression

Writing quickly before work, so I’m not promising perfect editing….

When Depression opens its slavering jaws, it can make me want to withdraw from society, friends, gatherings…. everything, really.

Though a typical aspect of Depression, curling up in bed alone can cause the spiral to whirl even faster.

This week and last, I was struggling massively with situational Depression, caused by a sense of helplessness in the face of gigantic medical bills and upcoming gigantic dental bills.  These things have not gone away, and I’m still not sure how long it’s going to take me to pay off the bills, but one thing that’s helped me progress towards the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel has been fighting isolationist tendencies and stepping outside of my problems.

The weather is finally approaching Spring brilliance here in Memphis, and one particularly bad day after work this week I managed to talk myself out of my work clothes, into workout clothes, filled a water bottle, donned my helmet, and went out on a bike ride in the park.  Do not get me wrong – this was hard.  What I really felt like doing was binge eating toast….or yoghurt….or noodles….and then burying myself in the blankets until unconsciousness claimed me.  But being out in public, smiling at other cyclists and joggers, enjoying the warm air and the rush of trees and streams and bridges as I whizzed by them lifted my mood enough so that I made it through the evening without binge eating and also without taking it all out on my ever-patient, non-Depression-stricken husband.  I also sought outside perspective from a dear one back in the U.K., whose input made me realize that all was not lost.  Finally, I attended a Social Justice meeting and got fired up about helping to defeat TN Amendment 1, a deliberately-misleading little amendment that would cripple the state constitution, obliterating privacy rights that at the moment make the TN constitution stronger than the US constitution.  How lovely to see such a strong constitution in a state in the South!  That’s another essay for another time, but the point of all this is that isolation can be destructive – and hiding away from the world can exacerbate meditation upon my problems until they are all that I can see.  

The people in our lives who care for us are there to help us, and sometimes to give us perspective when we are unable to see outside of our problems.  The communities in which we live offer up opportunities for service, and I challenge anyone to find a community that doesn’t need help in some way.  Isolation during Depression is not the same as finding time for yourself.  It can be a tool that ye olde Black Dog (thanks, Winston Churchill) uses to keep you down, to keep you unable to enjoy life, to keep you feeling it’s impossible to do anything besides just. barely. make it through each day.  

So, the next time Depression casts a lustful eye upon your spirit, try combating it with focus outside of yourself.  Have a conversation; talk to someone on the phone who you haven’t spoken to in a while; help your community.  All these things will serve to remind you that others are also struggling in this mad, mad world. And part of our remit here is to be with each other.  Let’s hold hands honestly, even when we are feeling down, and together we’ll live life.  To the fullest.  

Shine on, you crazy diamonds.

 

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