Sometimes sadness and sorrow just rings the doorbell and waltzes right in with a hearty, “Honey, I’m home,” and you know depression has arrived. Other times, it grows slowly, silently, and insidiously. At some point (along time ago) everything seemed fine but then the days got heavier, then hopelessness and despair crept in. Over time, months, or years, like that famous frog that unknowing sits in the pot of water as it slowly heats to a boil, the sadness wears you down and you find that your enthusiasm for life has vanished.
You feel miserable, discouraged, tired, broken, and hopeless but strangely this feels “reasonable” and you might not notice there is a problem until you find your life in crisis with drugs or alcohol, troubles at work or in your marriage, or you wake up one morning knowing that you just can’t go through one more day.
You might even have success in your career, marriage, family, and finances, because you can pass yourself off as “normal”, but you’re missing the joy, happiness, and that certain lightness that makes life worth living. There might be moments where you escape the dread but after awhile, you will find yourself miserable and despairing once again, having returned to your set point, as if you’ve signed a dark contract that requires you to give up your enjoyment of life.
We master the art of depression because we feel it’s the only way possible to live life without completely going off the deep end. We build the skills that don’t really bring us joy but do keep us going for one more day. We become master artisans in:
- Blocking and repressing our unwanted feelings
- Creating a façade where everything is alright
- Low expectations
- Putting our needs last
- Isolating ourselves
- Never saying “no”
- Overindulging in comfort foods, alcohol, and TV
We keep it up until the alienation and sorrow become too great and there is a suicide attempt, violent outburst, major panic attack, nervous breakdown, or hospitalization. The mind and body are crying out that there is something terribly wrong.
There is a wonderful quote from Dr. David Burns from his book Feeling Good in which he says:
Depression is one of the worst forms of suffering, because of the immense feelings of shame, worthlessness, hopelessness, and demoralization. Depression can seem worse than terminal cancer, because most cancer patients feel loved and they have hope and self-esteem
You may be convinced that your own case is so bad, so overwhelming and hopeless, that you are the one person who will never get well, no matter what. But no matter how terrible your depression and anxiety may feel, the prognosis for recovery is excellent.
You deserve to live a life of happiness. You can beat depression.