An Update on the WebShrink
It’s been a little over 9 months since my last blog post. I have a ton of excuses. Life got in the way. Since my last post in October of 2017 Mrs. Webshrink and I moved into our first house. It had and still has a lot of work that needs to be put in to it. I started a new job and while it’s the best company I’ve ever worked for, it’s taken me some time to adjust and taken a good deal of mental energy. In the time since I last wrote on here I lost two people in my life that I loved dearly. It shook me to the core and left me face to face with all of the existential anxiety that I choose to ignore in order to function on a daily basis. I’ve had to do plenty of grieving over the last year while also trying to move into the next stage of my life. There’s plenty more and I could go on and on…. But I preface this post with all of this to say that writing this one is just as much for me as it is for anyone who might read.
One of the key symptoms for diagnosing a Major Depressive Disorder is as follows:
– Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities every day, such as no interest in hobbies, sports, or other things the person used to enjoy doing.
Whether you’re experiencing this currently or have in the past, most people can relate to this particular symptom for at least some portion of their lives. Depression can be a cruel beast in that along with sapping your energy it tricks you into thinking that the things that you normally enjoy and that bring purpose to your life will not be enjoyable. It tells you that the things you normally loved are not worth your time and/or limited energy. I think that this is one of most devious tricks that depression can play on you. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon (or a shrink) to figure out that if days, weeks, months go by and you’re not doing any of the things that you enjoy in life, you’re either going to become depressed or it’s going to make your depression worse.
It’s all about MOMENTUM
Everyone no matter what their situation or life circumstance faces the possibility of struggling with depression. Some folks unfortunately have a genetic predisposition to experiencing depression and often have to fight a lot harder than others to cope and live a functional and fulfilling life. Thankfully, everyone possesses some level of the ability to be resilient and bounce back from hard times. While often we don’t have much of a say in preventing depression from hitting us we do have the ability to choose what we do in response. Our choices and behaviors often influence which direction we are going, whether that be towards recovering from our depression or regressing, and sinking deeper.
Depression is like a parasite. It wants to live inside of you. It convinces you of so many irrational thoughts. If you allow the parasitic thoughts to take hold of you, it will keep you from doing things that bring you joy. Rarely will the depressed person replace those activities with others that bring them joy. Spending too much time in life working and dealing with all of life’s inherent stressors without engaging in joyful activities that bring reprieve will only cause depression to spiral downwards and out of control. This is how depression can gain momentum and cause disastrous results.
When thinking of depression and momentum you can imagine it like a very heavy stone wheel rolling in one direction. The longer it rolls and the more you take either actions or decide to inaction that pushes it along the path, it rolls faster and is harder to turn. Giving in to depressive thoughts that cause you to isolate more, think negatively about yourself, and give up joyful activities feeds the depression and pushes the stone wheel in the direction towards being completely controlled and debilitated by your depression. This thought may be terrifying but it’s very important to be continuously aware of.
The good part about the stone wheel and momentum is that it works the other way too. There are certain things that lift our spirits: Spending time with loved ones, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, maintaining good sleep habits, getting out of the house and into the sunlight, and once again the purpose of this article, engaging in pleasurable activities that bring you joy. If you are or have been depressed you probably realize that you’re either slacking in some or all of these things. Given that depression can cause a severe lack of energy and motivation it can be difficult to have that “get up and go” to make changes, but it’s still possible.
Turning the Stone Around
If you truly want to reclaim your life you can. You must truly want it because while it’s always possible it’s rarely going to be easy. After all, if you’re experiencing depression, there is a giant stone wheel rolling down hill and the only way to turn it around is to stand firmly in front of it. It can feel like it’s pointless, like you’ll just be run over and so it’s not worth the effort, but you have to maintain your resolve. If you fight through the lack of motivation, lack of focus, lack of energy, and negative thoughts, you can turn it around. The first step is in realizing that the thoughts you are having while depressed is not your own thoughts, but your depression talking. Your depression tells you that you won’t enjoy doing things you once did and they’re not worth the effort. Your depression tells you that you don’t have the time or energy to do “more” than you’ve been doing or that it’s not worth it. It can be helpful to constantly remind yourself that your depression is like a parasite trying to maintain its position within you and that the way it’s influencing your thoughts are completely against your self-interests. As you continue monitoring your own thoughts in this way, you will increase your ability to fight your depression. Sometimes all it can take is re-engaging with activities that you once loved. You may not think you’ll enjoy it. You may think it’s pointless. You may think it’s too late for you to reconnect. I challenge you to do it anyway. Force yourself if you have to. Even if the depression has such a grasp on you that you only enjoy it a fraction of the way you used to, you’re adding some joy to your life. That joy will give you more energy and more motivation. With that increased energy and motivation if you choose, you can engage in more activities that will only continue to increase your energy, motivation, and joy. When this happens, you get the stone rolling the other way and it can pick up speed and momentum just as quickly in the positive direction that it can going the other way.
For those that prefer to read my posts that are more straight forward information without the preface and this end note that delve into my personal life I apologize. I hope you still found the information helpful. I said I wrote this post as much for myself as I did for you because over the 9 months I gave up much of what I loved. I gave up performing music, I gave up reading the fantasy/sci-fi stuff that I normally love, and among plenty of other passions I gave up writing in this blog. Like any person I’m not perfect, but when I can I try to practice what I preach. Everything that I’ve said in this article is information I frequently discuss in my work with clients or discuss when giving advice to the therapists I train. In the last few weeks I’ve started playing open mic nights again, have started reading for pleasure, and now with this post I have returned to writing. While I’ll admit that I was highly motivated by selfish reasons to write this post and work to turn my own stone around, I sincerely hope that this was helpful to others. I plan to get back to regular posting. I’ll likely be posting on topics near and dear to me in the next few months such as: Grief, Taking the Leap to Use Psychiatric Medications, Social Anxiety/Social Skills, and plenty of other topics. Thanks for reading! Please share with any who you think this would help and best of luck on your jouney!
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