my great achievement of the day: managed to resist a pair of pink trousers whilst out shopping. they were a fantastic shade of pink…

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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…