The hardest thing about depression is feeling sad even when you know you should be happy. In the past I would just put that feeling aside and get on with things. Part of it is not understanding why it even shows up in the first place, and often in the most unlikely places. The feeling of sadness makes you overact to everything, any change in the environment can amplify its affect on your whole state of being.
OVERTHINKING AND OVERREACTING
Worse, this feeling of sadness can make you overthink things, and read into things that you have no proof for. Nowhere is this more evident than with people you care about. Instead of being able to ride their moods, you end up attaching to it, and feeling inadequate. The only way I can explain it to anyone is an intense feeling of deep emptiness emanating from the right side of my heart, wanting to explode through my chest. It’s tough to deal with at times.
This feeling has further consequences often outside of my control. Previously I would tend to get short, angry, and upset quickly. I knew even as it was happening that I am overacting, but I just couldn’t stop the way I was feeling.
I have tried various ways to deal more appropriately with the inner turmoil that arises because of depression. Lately the thing that has most worked for me is simply to slow down. I have realized that when I push through emotions that I can’t clearly articulate or even understand, I tend to speed up, making things worse. Rather that moving away from those emotions, I end up expressing them in actions, and more than often the outcome is less than desirable.
Slowing down makes me more aware of my feelings. I make a concerted effort to breathe into it, staying with it preferably without judgement. It’s hard, I am not going to lie. But I am getting better at it. Slowing down takes time. It’s not what we are used to. Life as a whole tends to be fast paced and chaotic. There is sense that I am always running at full speed. Telling myself to go slow is a fight, but a fight worth winning.
HOW TO SLOW DOWN
How do I slow down?
I take everything opportunity to do things at half speed. From washing the dishes, brushing my teeth, to walking down the street, or while writing this blog. When I say slow down, I mean literally slowing down everything I do. In the moments when it really works, I feel enveloped by a sense of calm I haven’t felt in years. The feeling that emerges from that right side of my heart still remains, but it’s more bearable.
I understand coming back from depression takes daily work. It may never go away, but I am confident I will learn how to navigate the experiences of depression more effectively over time. I am doing better in the past two months than I have have for a very long time. It may not always be the case, but right now I feel like I am making real progress. And on the days I relapse (which is far less these days), on those days, I remind myself to take a step back, stop what I am doing, and simply go for a slow walk, while breathing into my feelings. Try it!