I wrote the following post several weeks ago, shortly after moving to the Portland area. I hesitated in posting it, mainly because of the reaction I was afraid it might get. But after reading Charlotte’s brave post on her blog Momaste about her own depression, I figured I should go ahead and post, too, regardless of what others thought.
It’s time to get up, Melissa.
You need to get up now.
Not yet. I don’t think I can.
Take off the covers, swing your legs over the side of the bed and sit up.
Now take some deep breaths. One thing at a time.
I am doing my best to listen to the voice inside my head. The good voice. That voice who can see the other side. That therapist voice who always knows that things are going to be ok, even when I seriously doubt it.
It’s so hard to take my own advice. I can’t count how many times I have told clients to try and provide themselves with reminders about how it feels to climb out of a depression, or how it feels after you’ve just left an abusive partner, how it feels when you’re loving life and you actually have hope.
We need those reminders of what hope feels like, and now I am needing them, because depression lies to us.
Let me say that again: depression lies.
Some of my clients remind themselves by journaling. When they feel themselves slipping, I’ll remind them to go back and read the entries they made when they felt good about themselves.
Some of my clients use artwork they’ve made as reminders. Others use music. Or dancing. It’s about whatever works.
Step one is to get yourself to actually make the reminder. Step two, which is the harder one, is to get yourself to pull out the reminder when you need it most.
I actually got this idea from one of my very first clients who used this technique naturally. She recognized that the abuse in her relationship ran in cycles, that her manipulative ex changed his tactics from time to time, and that she needed a reminder as to why she left him, especially when he was beginning to turn the charm back on, or when things got particularly hard on her own.
She knew just how strong her denial could be, and so she knew that she needed a real, tangible reminder. Something she couldn’t ignore or explain away. So she cleared out a drawer in her house, and she filled it with things her ex had broken. Picture frames, phones, even pieces of a dining room chair. Every time she needed reminding, she would open that drawer and touch all the broken pieces of a life she had left behind.
I used her amazing example with many clients, and right now I’m needing to use it for myself.
Because sometimes I feel like my hope has leaked out of my drawer.
Now I need you to brush your teeth.
I don’t feel like it.
You’ll feel better afterwards.
…will I feel better, ever?
How do you know?
Because you’re still listening to me.
Tell me, what do you use as a reminder of hope?