When you are in a full depression, there is really no point in trying to fight it. It is like riding a bicycle with a flat tyre. We keep getting off and pumping it up only to find that the tyre is flat once more minutes later. We are better off just accepting the status quo instead of fighting a battle we can’t win. The harsh words we tell ourselves are akin to falsely pumping up that tyre again, only to feel deflated soon after.
‘What’s wrong with you?’ – ‘Pull yourself together, you idiot!’ –
‘You’re a useless piece of shit!’ – are admonishments that won’t help.
At times like this, just stop, breathe out and notice the release of tension in your stomach. Accept the depression for that moment. Know that you are depressed and, just for that moment, are completely powerless to change it.
This acceptance will bring you a sense of relief. It will calm you down in the knowledge that you don’t have to sort it out there and then. You can just relax and sit with the feeling of being depressed. It is not self-indulgent; it is honest. You are entitled to feel depressed if that is how you feel. You can still function and be depressed.
Being depressed does not mean you are going to die; it means you feel depressed. You can cope with that for one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time. You are not a freak, you are not unnatural, you are not worthless – you are simply depressed.
You are better off surrendering to your depression than try- ing to fight it. Like pushing wet sand, the more you push, the harder it gets. By surrendering you are putting your arms in the air and saying just that: ‘I surrender.’ Go on – try it. Just do it. You will feel the difference as you do it and you will feel some acceptance of your current state.
HOW TO SURRENDER
You must prepare well for this. You need time to yourself. It does not need to be all day but it needs to be at least one houra day. However, the more time you get to yourself the better. You don’t have to be on your own but you need to have little or no responsibility during your hour.
Once this is organized, you must become aware of your duties for the week and cut them down to the bare minimum. If you have a job, take time off. If you have children, organize your routine as best you can to get as much time to yourself. You may feel that this is too much bother but also bear in mind how long you have been depressed and ask yourself how much longer you want to stay depressed.
At some point you have to surrender to the fact that you are suffering from depression and that you feel powerless over it. You have tried everything to change the way you feel and little has worked. For now, just admit that you are powerless over your depression – submit to your feelings.
It is vital for your recovery that you completely indulge in your feelings so that you feel saturated. This is because you have never allowed yourself to totally experience the despair and hopelessness that comes with depression. This is the goal of surrendering.
We usually judge ourselves harshly for our state of mind, but this is the time for you to accept yours. This may be the most difficult part of beating depression because you have probably never allowed yourself to completely indulge in your despair. Stick with the simplicity of allowing yourself this time out.
EVERY DAY, DO AT LEAST SOME OF THE FOLLOWING:
• Sink into your depression
• Let go of trying to control your feelings
• Stop trying not to be depressed
• Don’t soldier on any more
• Look down towards the floor and feel the weight on your shoulders
• Feel the despair and hopelessness
• Feel the unfairness and self-pity
• If tears rise to the surface, let them out
• Ask no questions
• Indulge in your melancholy – you have permission to do so
• Feel the anger if it rises to the surface
• Let out your anger if it feels right
• Take time off – get a sick note
• Concentrate on you and no one else
• Stay in bed, damn the world
• Reel with the self-admission that you are depressed
• Make no big decisions
• Abdicate as much responsibility as you can
• Shelve your projects
• Abandon your duties
• Suspend self-criticism for surrendering
Don’t move on to the next suggestion until this period has finished. Put this book away, except to re-read the first suggestion. It is now time to completely let go. Don’t be afraid of what might happen; you won’t lose any more control than you have lost already. Good things will come from this stage. If you feel worse than you have ever felt before this is because the feelings that you have been running from are surfacing.
But it is more exhausting to be constantly running than it is to STOP, turn around and face what you have been running from. You use up far more energy running away than turning around to face the unknown. This is because you have had to contend with the exhaustion of running plus the fear of the unknown!
When I had a breakdown caused by depression, it was the running away from the problem and the feeling scared of accepting that I was depressed that wore me down. Once I had begun to accept that I was depressed, I stopped betraying myself and sought help. This was the beginning of my road to recovery.
While you undertake these tasks, you may get a sense that your depression is not as great as you thought. It’s the pushing away from the depression that can make it seem overwhelming. As in so many areas of life, when we don’t face what we are afraid of, whatever is tormenting us can seem so much bigger than it really is. The only way to learn this lesson is to face the threat. Unfortunately, no one can do this for us. We have to do it ourselves.
However, the good news is that each time you face your worst fear, you will grow in stamina to do it again and your courage will increase. Depression can feel like a big, black, bottomless pit. The reality is, however, that it is your fear that creates the black hole, not the depression itself. As your recovery continues, you will begin to notice a foundation to the black pit; then the pit will become more shallow; finally, you may forget there was ever a black pit there at all.