Depression has a way of sneaking up on me. I have been doing pretty well for a while on the depression front. I have had my low times and also some hard times. The darkness that I struggled through for much of the fall and winter was crushing but has passed. I felt like things had finally turned a corner.
Recently I tried visualizing what it was like in my mind. In my mind, I saw myself looking out at my world and not seeing depression anywhere. I felt that I had successfully hidden from it. I felt a tap on my shoulder and a small voice in my ear asking what we were doing. I whispered, hiding.
“Oh, fun,” the voice whispered back. “Who are we hiding from?”
“Depression,” I whispered.
“Oh,” came the sad response.
I turned around to see depression looking sadly at me.
After this imaginary moment, I realized that I was trying to hide from depression. I spend a lot of time hiding from the hard stuff, hiding from the painful things about myself that I don’t want to acknowledge. Depression and anxiety have been a part of my life for a long time. I actually cannot remember a time when depression had not been there.
I have started to look at my anxiety and depression as warning signs. When I feel the anxiety ratcheting up, I stop and try to look at what I am doing or what is happening around me that would cause the anxiety to spike. By looking at the environment I am in, both physically and mentally, I have a better idea of what is happening inside my head. Sometimes I realize there is a commonality to the past that triggers the anxiety. Refocusing allows me to step back and assess things enabling me to find a peaceful way forward.
The same is with the depression. I stop and look at what is happening and how it connects to my life. I can seldom refocus the depression. But it helps me to do self-care things that I would not do if I weren’t paying attention to how I am feeling.
Sometimes I want to hide from the depression and anxiety, and it often feels like an excruciating game of hide and seek. They always find me. And it always feels worse when they do. Hiding is fun when what or who finds you is someone you enjoy. Hiding from pain only makes it worse.
Understanding why the anxiety and depression happen doesn’t make them go away. It only seems to ease them into something I can navigate. And when I can’t safely navigate them, there is always the tried and true method of hiding under the blankets with them until the monsters go away. And if I have an excellent book to read to listen to, it doesn’t really feel like I’m hiding.