Reminders

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.

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It’s time to get up, Melissa.

…..what?

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.

…O-Okay.

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?

Yes.

How do you know?

Because you’re still listening to me.

~~~

Tell me, what do you use as a reminder of hope?

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25 responses

  1. Reblogged this on Psychobabble and commented:

    Here is a post that took courage for me to write and post almost four years ago. I still think about it when going through bouts of depression from time to time.
    (Please excuse the first attempt to reblog this today; my phone was not cooperating with me.)
    —————-
    NaBloPoMo Day 21

  2. Pingback: This Post Brought To You By The Sun | momaste

  3. You must be a great therapist because you obviously understand the inner workings of depression so well, Lyssa. It’s so hard to remember when you’re in the middle of depression, that depression isn’t all there is. I read a book once where it talked about how depression is like being in a dark and cloudy day, and not remembering that the sun is still there, but the clouds are obscuring it. That has always stayed with me.

    The reminder that sometimes helps me is a photo of a flower box I once made after I had climbed out of a nasty depression. It was so pretty, with pansies and geraniums and impatiens. I took a photo of it and I keep it out so I can look at it. It never fails to make me feel at least a little better.

  4. I too am really glad you posted this. This monster you’re writing about…I know it all too well. When I’m down, I celebrate each little accomplishment as a victory, no matter how small, as I climb back out of the hole I feel has swallowed me.

    Getting out of bed counts. Brushing one’s teeth counts. Eating breakfast counts. They may be little wins, but they feel big at the time, and the little things add up. It’s what gets me through.

  5. This is a brave and well written post! I’m glad you opted to put it out there… you’re not alone, even if it feels that way, many days. I’ve told you for a long time, I connect with you, because I see so much of myself then… and now… in you. I get it. As you know, I’ve written a fair bit about coming out of my own depression. It was about 2-3 years of darker days. One of those years was truly challenging– on every level, just putting one foot in front of the other! I can only imagine that adding the exhausting work of building a baby! Write to me privately, if you want (bjdqlandau@comcast.net)… I have a glorious guest room, and sometimes it really does help to just break out for a little bit. Hang in there Lyssa (or do you prefer Melissa, I’m now asking myself!)… big, loving hugs, my friend.

    • Thank you so much.
      You know, I prefer my real name, Melissa, but I totally understand people in the blogging world calling me Lyssa….it’s a nickname, and I used it initially to give myself an extra layer of anonymity if I so wanted it.

  6. Big hugs, there are times in our lives when we get depressed. Sometimes I think it’s normal. When I left my abusive ex and I lived on my own and would get down, I went around my tiny apartment and stroked each piece of furniture I had. It wasn’t much, but it was MINE. I would go and say, MY chair, MY phone, MY bed, MY whatever…….it helped. We all have to find our own coping aids. Stay strong, you aren’t alone.

  7. I haven’t yet found my reminder of hope, and still struggle greatly from time to time. But that example of the broken items from her past life from one of your clients is amazing. I’ve never heard of that kind of reminder and could see why it would be effective.

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