By Lisa Huddleston
“Only let us live up to what we have already attained,” (Philippians 3:16).
As I have begun to share more of my life journey with depression, I have received many kind and encouraging words from close friends and family as well as from those whom I barely know or even people I have never met. I appreciate the heartfelt support more than I can say. However, it is obvious within just a few sentences whether or not the person reaching out to me has had personal experience with clinical depression. And if you have not, rejoice that depression is not your burden—I know we all have our own to carry, and I am sure I don’t “get” all of your struggles either. No judgment.
I guess the understanding I hope to share today is that depression is not the same thing as being sad—or at least not the kind of depression I experience. For me, being depressed feels more like being exhausted. I don’t want to do anything at all, and that is probably a good thing because when depression is at its worst, I truly can’t do anything but sleep. And for a while, sleeping is exactly the best thing for me to do.
But as I have been slowly recovering from this episode, a familiar and much more difficult sensation has reappeared; I still don’t want to do anything in particular, but I am so restless that I can’t sleep the day away. I am so antsy! And again, for me, restless is way too close to reckless. At this stage, it would be very easy for me to make decisions that could be rash or possibly even dangerous. And because I have traveled this road before, I know the importance of caution and awareness right now.
Happily just about an hour or so ago, I make a good choice to go down to my yoga mat in the basement and do a 30 minute workout with a dvd yogi. I had been working out 3 to 4 times a week before my recent dive, but I have not exercised for this whole month! I knew I was not going to be where I was before—and I could tell that I have lost some ground—but at least I wasn’t where I was before I began practicing yoga. I still had some ground left on the positive side of my low point. And for that ground, however small it may be, I am grateful.
And so, I am still trending in the right direction. The two steps forward are still making some headway, and that is a truth I need to hold onto. As my vitality returns in starts and spurts, I must be mindful not to let restless become reckless. I need to see with clear eyes that all is not lost and in fact some things have even been gained.
And I hope this increase in wisdom can be shared. As I repeat many parts of my journey, I am learning (I hope) to recognize the warning signs of each leg and beginning to negotiate the rocky road a little better, to see the danger before I drive off the cliff. That is very good.
For those of you on a similar path, I hope my words give hope and that you, too, will be mindful of the better directions you can go when restlessness hits. And for those of you who love us but just don’t really “get it”, I hope you will understand some of these stages just a little better. And that, too, is very good.
So–to my fellow travelers along the winding depression road (and to myself), “You better check yourself before you wreck yourself!” Only half the day left to go…. I’m praying for mindfulness and truth to rule the hours.