That depression is a coping mechanism. Having worked for seven years as a mental health nurse, I believe that for people with mild to moderate depression, it’s how they escape from difficult situations. For me it’s a choice – a conscious choice. When things are difficult (and for me that seems to happen quite a lot) I go and hide in my depression. It serves me. That makes me sound like such a manipulator – ‘things are difficult so I’ll get a bit of sympathy, or I’ll get out of doing what needs to be done by being depressed’. I don’t try to use it as a manipulation – actually, if I’m honest, that’s exactly what I do.
I have done much reading recently around life, what it is, how to get the best out of it, what my place is, etc. “Feel the fear and do it anyway”, “Life is that space outside of your comfort zone”, are themes on which much worthwhile, and intended to be helpful, advice is given. But I live my life in overwhelm. I feel that so many things need to be done, and I can’t possibly get them all done in the time or to the standard that I feel I should (note the use of ‘should’), so I don’t get them done at all. So the untidy craft room remains untidy, the journals remain unwritten, the bank account update remains out of date and I remain overweight and in my pyjamas.
And so I’m depressed – depressed because I fear venturing out into that world that will be wonderful, full and exciting. Oh, I visualise. I visualise the life I would like to have. I visualise getting up at five in the morning for an hour of yoga followed by a long relaxing, inspiring, enlightening meditation. I visualise being dressed and breakfasted by the time my daughter gets up to get ready for school so that I can have the house sparkling in time to write my blog post before lunch. Then an afternoon of crafting, or dealing with a number of Indian Head Massage clients (or life coaching clients – insert as required) and working a bit on my website leaves me time to cook a healthy, organic meal for my family coming home for dinner. Then the evening is my own to spend knitting, cross stitching or sewing. I use the computer briefly only to check emails and keep up my business networking. And at the end of a fulfilling day, for which my heart is full of gratitude, I head for bed where I make love with my husband and the fall into a deep slumber, only waking at five in the morning, fully refreshed and ready to start all over again.
But then reality kicks in. My world is still my ordinary world. The alarm drags me from my sleep. Bleary eyed and sluggish from the sleeping tablet I had to take to help me escape from my husband’s snoring and the racing thoughts the night before, I make my way downstairs to my first cup of coffee of the day. As I wait for it to cool, I reach for my laptop – aaaaand…..my day is gone! No crafting, no writing, no knitting, just lots of status updates and one million, eight hundred points on bricks breaking. With dinner time looming, a quick rummage through the freezer provides our meal. And I’m depressed. Because if I’m depressed I have an excuse for not doing all the things I believe I should be doing. It removes my personal responsibility and I can blame external forces – just as I blame external forces for being the way I am – my experiences as a child, my experiences at work, my first marriage and its breakdown – they are all the fault of someone else.
While I know logically, that my life is in my hands and that I am the only one who has the power to change it, I’m not sure that I want to take that responsibility because if it doesn’t work out, it will be my fault. And so, when life gets challenging, my way of coping is to be depressed.
However, all is not lost! I now recognise that this is my response. I can feel when the choice is there to be made – to be depressed or not to be – and I can choose which way to go. Sometimes I still choose the depression, but I acknowledge that this is what I’m doing and I can then look at why. What is it that I am afraid of? Sometimes I can work it out and sometimes it’s too scary to go there. But it’s progress, it’s self awareness, it’s being kind to myself by not beating myself up about it and this is the beginning of self love.
So I believe that I use depression as a coping mechanism. But I also believe that I do it less frequently than I used to. And I believe that one day, I won’t need to use it at all.
This was originally posted as part of Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs Project at Sunshine on a Rainy Day on 9th May 2012.
If you would like to know more about Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs Project, then click here Amy Palko or on the box – it’ll take you straight there!