Fighting Depression – what I really meant

I blogged about this recently here and some interesting discussions came out of that, but I’d like to get back to what I really meant in my post. There are lots of different aspects to depression but there was one in particular that I was seeking to share – one that is a constant struggle for me.

It’s the struggle to know when I should go with my thoughts and feelings and when I should fight them.

Perhaps an example or two might help.

I’m sitting at the computer and feeling like I need something to perk me up. I think of chocolate. The truth: chocolate will perk me up very briefly, and the short high will be followed by a slump soon after. If I carry on with this pattern, the result will be that I will keep eating chocolate until I feel sick, I will not have had the nutrition that I really need, and in the long term I will also gain weight and feel worse as a result of that. Gaining weight means I will feel more unfit, less comfortable, and less energetic. This in turn will mean I’ll be less likely to do anything remotely resembling physical exercise and will therefore find it harder to lose the extra weight and/or to get any of my fitness back. Lack of physical exercise will affect my mood, making me feel low, and thus the cycle can continue…

So, going back to that moment of feeling the need for something to perk me up and thinking of chocolate – I have a choice. I can go with it, or I can choose to say no and to do something that is actually better for me. I can say: yes, I feel like chocolate but I know from experience that actually having some real food with real nutritional value is going to be better for me in the long run. I know what I’ll do: I’ll have that nice pastrame that’s in the fridge, and a glass of orange juice. And then maybe I’ll go out for a walk – get a bit of fresh air, get the circulation going, see the flowers outside. These things will actually make me feel a lot better than having a cube of chocolate and staying slumped in front of the computer.

So there is a struggle in fighting against that desire for chocolate, but before that there is the struggle in deciding whether I should – on this particular occasion – fight it. Because there are times when it’s okay to have some chocolate. And being an adult means that it’s me who has to make these choices. When to say yes to myself and when to say: actually, no, this is a temptation that is bad for me and I will not give in to it.

Same principle when I feel like resting instead of doing things on my to do list, whether they are things like ironing or coursework or whatever – there are times when it’s right to rest, times when a rest is what I really need; but there are times when the desire to rest is a temptation that I need to fight. times when a rest won’t make me feel better, it will make me feel more despondent. times when pushing myself to get one of these chores done will actually make me feel a lot better – there will be a sense of achievement, satisfaction, victory! as opposed to the feeling of despondency I can get from looking at my to do list and knowing that once again I have wasted a day and these things are still not done.

It is difficult to get the balance right – to know when and how far to push myself, without turning into a slavedriver… to know when to be kind to myself, and to be kind to myself in the right way, because sometimes true kindness involves denying someone what they fancy and giving them what is actually good for them…

Now I’m off to demolish that pastrame…

14 thoughts on “Fighting Depression – what I really meant

  1. I think all humans have this problem, Meirav (I don't doubt it's worse when you are depressed too). We have learned to repress the messages from our body and from whatever you call the part that knows e.g. the need of an achievement. School children, for instance, can't eat when they're hungry and can't choose exactly what their bodies needs right then; it has to be when there's lunch break and a handmeal that can be packed. We all grow up in the you're-supposed-to school. And we learn to use a lot of substitutes for our real needs. In the first – well, second; the first is dominated by physical withdrawal symptoms – phase of sobriety, the craving for alcohol turns up when we're, ahem, thirsty. The body is not really asking for booze, but for water (juice, milk …); it just our minds that distort its message. In analogy with that, I learned to ask the urge to whatever what it's really telling me. Maybe "I want rest" translates as "I'm bored, and now you want to do more boring chores. Give me half an hour of fun first, and I'll cooperate." Perhaps useful to you, perhaps not.

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  2. I think it's true that there are times when our body is asking for something but somewhere in our mind that request gets distorted.and yes, some of these issues are not specific to depression, they just get worse or happen more often then – depression means you're a lot more likely to experience the "I can't" type thoughts and feelings, and it also means you have less energy to fight them.

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  3. between feeling bad and doing something to stop it and then feeling bad about the cure…between wanting to cry for an hour – and understanding that it is no use and just makes you feel worse.And right now between the chocolate and the weight…it's even I put on weight when I'm depressed chocolate or not – so to hell with it pass the chocolateI thin that just by sitting a reasoning it out with yourself it helps to deal a little withe the situation – and Ulla is right – we all have these moments when it is so easy to reach and grab the psychological crutch.

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  4. Honestly, it never crossed my mind that this is part of depression. And it is certainly a terrible temptation to have to fight off often. I can't imagine having that knocking on my door as often as you've put it but everyone is unique. Everyone has their "nemesis" knocking on their own door. I've got mine too. But in the end, it's about how we each deal with them. Sometimes we do well, sometimes, we don't and other times, we just have to rely a lot on Him to get us out of the mess we got ourselves into. Do I make sense?But do share… how do you deal with this sort of temptation knocking on your doors? I mean, other than grabbing the pastrame. (I'm going to google this and find out what that is).

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  5. Like you said – sometimes I deal with it well and other times I don't deal with it so well, and end up having to crawl to my Dad and ask for help with the consequences.My mind is the battlefield, and a great deal of the battle involves stopping to think before I act – to consider my options, to make conscious decisions rather than just 'going with the flow'. To stop and think: what is it that I really need right now? if I do X, how will I feel later? what happened last time I did this? those sort of questions.I am by nature an impulsive person, so it's taking a conscious effort to train myself to think before I act – exercising self-control is new to me. But the sense of victory as a result is great!

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  6. oh, and another thing that can sometimes help is making yourself accountable to someone else – preferably someone who is not averse to kicking you in the shins [in love] when necessary :-)seriously – the sort of friends who say "go on, have another chocolate" are not helpful, the helpful ones are those who say things like "didn't you say you would go to bed before 3am?" [oh yes, that bunny rabbit is helpful too…] Good night :-)

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  7. You remind me a lot of someone very special I know. He acts before he thinks. Worse still, he talks without thinking at all. You might know him too… He knew perfect well the laws of gravity but that didn't stop him from defying it by jumping off the boat and walking on water for a moment. He was the smartest of the 12 by answering a quiz his Master gave but was later rebuked because of what he said. He rashly said he wanted to build 3 tents and even tried to get into a sword fight, ending up with someone losing his ear. To make things worse, without a second thought, he even denied he was a friend of an Innocent Man convicted of a crime that brought crucifixion.But in the end, he was also one of the Lord's truly beloved. He served and as tradition has it, died for the Lord too. What a wonderful character this man had. God could use his sort of impulsiveness. And I'm sure God could use your unique character too. *Smiles*

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  8. Pingback: Here’s another example | Meirav's Blog Archive

  9. Pingback: Here’s another example | Meirav's Blog

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