In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.Robert Frost
The toughest thing about dealing with depression is that life goes on. Time will not stop for us or for anyone. The earth keeps spinning. The longer this condition persists, the more likely we are to face another depressing problem: How can we recover that lost time, let alone catch up?
I’ve struggled greatly with this conundrum and while I don’t have a great answer, I’d like to share my insights with you.
In the world of economics, depressions are always preceded by periods of great economic prosperity. But first, to even be considered a depression, an economy has to experience several recessions. That is, it must show two consecutive quarters of decline in GDP multiple times.
Similar to the economy, depression often follows emotional highs: getting laid off from our dream jobs. Suffering cataclysmic heartbreaks. Losing our sense of smell. And just like the economy, sometimes recovery is quick and other times it’s a long, arduous process. Which it will be is hard to say. This characterization helps us differentiate fleeting sadness from major depression.
There are a lot of things that people misunderstand about depression. Smiling is possible when we’re depressed. So is laughing and having a great time. We don’t even have to be alone to be depressed. The thing that should not be mistaken though is that depression is a prolonged period of lost potential. It’s the inability to perform at our fullest. It’s the insurmountable difficulty to enjoy things as much as we did before.
Picture the beach. When a happy frothy wave surges onto the yellow golden sand, that’s happiness. Inevitably, the water will recede back into the ocean and that’s okay. Sometimes these waves make it further up the shore than expected. That’s high tide. Sometimes, they’re lower than expected. That’s low tide.
Depression? That’s permanent low tide. That’s our world, no longer spinning, supressed by a force largely outside of our own control.
We try hard to fix it. Our first approach is often additive. Let’s add food and alcohol. And while we’re at it, let’s throw in a new relationship and a new gadget. Surely, happiness can be found and bought, right?
Unfortunately, this approach is folly. It’s often more effective to take things away. Take away the things that make us unhappy. The things that distract us and wear us down. And hopefully, at the end of the entire exercise, we’re left with just the things that spark joy.
It doesn’t always play out like that though. Sometimes we reach the point where we feel like the only thing left to take away is our own lives. Please don’t.
Whenever I get to that point, I usually turn to yoga. I’ve found no better way to realize how cluttered my mind is and how much work I can and have to do to clean it up. Arriving on a mat by myself with nothing else to take away has the tendency to do that. Cleaning away these burdens takes time and energy – but it’s worth it. The levity I experience from this shed weight is often enough to accelerate me forward so I feel confident that I can catch up.
I know it’s a tough thing to undertake and it might seem easier to find or pay someone to do the hard work for you. It isn’t. Chances are, they’ll end up doing the job all wrong, leaving you with a bigger mess. On the bright side, that doesn’t mean they won’t support you.
Even if you haven’t exhausted your options yet, I encourage you to try yoga. It doesn’t have to be anything formal. Just find a nice quiet space, and use your body to explore the space around you and in your mind. With that said, I’d like to share with you my own three words that I’ve learned about life: Yoga-t this!