I heard someone refer to an image the other day of a duck treading water - a duck that, on the surface, looks to be calmly gliding through life, yet underneath the aforementioned duck's legs are frantically flapping about, attempting to keep afloat. This is how I have felt recently.
Trying to put on a brave face, I have been getting through my days by treading water, putting the looming, ominous feelings associated with my depression to the back of my mind... yet deep down, I am frantically paddling, trying to keep afloat. You see, at the moment everyday is a struggle. The all too familiar destructive behaviours associated with my depression are back and, not usually one to lie down to defeat, I try to battle these behaviours on a daily basis, but let me assure you it is hard... Depression exhausts the sufferer making to difficult to fight. It eats your days, your time, and these are things that cannot be recycled and reused later. Depression has the unfair advantage.
I have been recently attending Group Therapy - a form of talking therapy in which 10 sufferers of depression and/ or anxiety/ addictive behaviours meet up on a weekly basis to discuss and provide advice on depression and its behaviours (this is something I would like to write about in more detail in the next coming months). Although in the early days, I have found this therapy most helpful - certainly more helpful than the other forms of therapy I have undergone before.
What makes this different from other talking therapies you ask? The difference is that this type of therapy challenges the traditional approach of patient and doctor. Instead, a group of sufferers bring their stories to a group situation each week to discuss their obstacles in life and the problems depression brings to their life; what makes this therapy useful is that every person in the room is in the same boat: we are all sufferers of depression despite having very different backgrounds and very different stories. It has been refreshing and has even challenged some of my stereotypes.
One thing we all have in common is depression and in spite of our different backgrounds( one group member is an ex alcoholic; one had abuse issues; one has lost his children; I have major self-esteem and some childhood issues and so on) we all share common symptoms of depression: fatigue, sadness, isolation, disengagement, low self- esteem. However, one of the approaches to improvement is to think about destructive behaviours that depressed sufferers have and how to combat these... This made me think of mine...
My destructive behaviours include: burning the midnight oil by staying up past midnight (it is 2.48am as I write this and I have to get up at 6am for work) thinking about and anticipating the days ahead with dread; working myself to the ground when I have deadlines to hit, not taking time out for me, closing myself in and isolating myself from my peers by not attending social occasions, not seeing or speaking to family or friends if I can help it, cleaning my house frantically, taking too many painkillers to combat the piercing, throbbing headaches I get (mainly because I am sitting up to all hours in the morning) and sleeping too much during the day- what are yours?
As I sign off, I think about these behaviours and really wonder if they contribute to the cycle of depression I find myself in or is depression something that is inherently in us? Will I ever be able to exorcise this demon?