I went to my therapist last night. This was unusual for both of us because I generally go to see him on Saturday afternoons. Probably the first thing he found unusual is that I generally log into work at 8pm and the appointment was at 7pm. He asked me if I was sure that I would have plenty of time to get to work, and I told him that it wouldn’t be a problem. I didn’t want to spoil any of the surprises for him.
We talked about the past week. The Superbowl failure, the layoff, the shitty severance, and now the unknown part of me accepting unemployment interfering with my disability claim all just crushing me with depression. I told him the only thing that was keeping my head above water was two words: “Depression Lies”. And it does, it’s the most horrible of my monsters. It’s the one that I hate the most; however those two little words have helped me more than the person that I got them from will ever know.
That person is Wil Wheaton.
He shared a story on his site about his struggles with depression and those words were used: “Depression Lies”. It clicked with me. When I have a depressive episode or when I am overwhelmed and depression slithers forth and starts to crush me, I just remember those words: “Depression Lies”. It is one of the greatest truths that I have ever learned about my illnesses. If I ever meet the guy, I have to thank him for that (And also for his roles on Leverage, Eureka, Criminal Minds & for Tabletop) because it has truly been a huge help in my struggles and has saved me more times than I want to confess. Of all of the lies depression will tell you, suicide is the most heinous of them all.
(There is always help – US: 1 (800) 273-8255 – www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org )
I told my therapist that story, and I talked about how I have a good “survival kit” for my anxiety, but I don’t really have anything for depression other than I know its a lie. I told him that even knowing that all of the racing thoughts and ideas in my head are lies, the headaches, the body aches, and the physical feelings are real. Even though I do not believe the lies that depression tells me, I still have a feeling of lethargy and I just have no energy. I wanted to know what could I do to combat depression like I do my anxiety? We talked about it and we came up with the idea of strongholds.
Depression steals your joy. It lies to you and it crushes you to steal your enjoyment of life. That’s it’s goal. So, what can you do to regain some joy. Most people will tell you to go exercise, and that’s not a bad idea, but not all of us are into going to the gym and if you are deep into depression then your motivation is at a zero. So, we talked about what are some low-energy/low-motivation ways to develop these strongholds to regain joy back from depression. The most basic (and cheesy sounding) is getting a hug from a loved one. A 10 – 20 second hug releases multiple hormones and fires up some neurotransmitters (one hormone is oxytocin) and these will greatly reduce stress and get back some joy. The one that I came up with for me was playing. I have toy cars, wind-up toys and all kinds of little toys that I can just kind of play about with. Playing also helps reclaim some joy, even for 38 year-olds. So, it became one of my strongholds. I then challenged myself to make a list of at least 10 things, 10 strongholds, that I can do when I am getting or already am depressed to reclaim my joy. I will be honest, this list took me awhile, but I did it. So here it is:
Things that I can do to get quick doses of joy when I am depressed:
1) Get a hug.
2) Make Pour Over or Press Coffee
3) Create something with one of the drawing sites on the Internet.
5) Create new playlists or find new music.
6) Watch Doctor Who
7) Go outside to have my coffee and enjoy nature
8) Play with my toys (Not the vintage collectibles!)
10) Play my bass guitar/ learn a new song.
These are just the things that I came up with that involved me getting up and either:
- Focusing on something other than my depression
- Creating something
I can find joy in a mindful meditation, or creating something with my mind and hands. These will be my first of many strongholds against my depression. I hope that you get empowered by this idea and create your own strongholds; however if you dont, please just remember the truth: