I was supposed to visit with family this weekend and did not. Cousins were in from out of town. Another cousin, local, is recovering from a liver transplant. It was a good time to touch base and connect with family.
I skipped it. This is a side effect of my depression. I isolate. Also any change in routine is hard for me to do. It’s like I’m riding in a rut and I have to jump over the ruts to get into a new path. The problem is that the ruts are deep because my brain’s preference is for the rut I’m in. And so what appears to be a simple change is actually the mental equivalent of an Olympic high jump for me.
It’s the same thing that keeps me still when I can’t seem to get myself moving. When I can’t get out of bed at all. But in those times it’s more of a jump across a chasm in the dark.
I use these metaphors because it helps me to remember that my thoughts and actions are not my depression. My thoughts and actions are often a result of my depression and often feed it in a self sustaining loop of yuck. But they are just the manure and fodder not the cause, not the disease.
This is why therapy works. Because if you starve depression of it’s fodder by changing your thought patterns and actions it recedes. It’s not gone. I’ve pretty well accepted that it will never be gone, but if I can gain control over actions and choices, I’m no longer a marionette enslaved to the depression’s pulled strings.
This weekend I let it pull my strings. I know why. I was tired on Friday night and when I’m tired my ability to use will power to change course is weak at best. Saturday I let myself sit still for too long. And the rut got deep. Then I let my thoughts justify the stillness and feed the depression. And in the end, I didn’t do a thing that matters.
This morning it is easy to feed the depression all my shame and self loathing over not visiting my family. But that just gives the depression more fodder. So instead I’m writing this post to remind myself – this is how this happened, this is how to manage it. Don’t feed the depression. Move Forward. Focus on the movement. Don’t sit still and wallow in the manure.