Monday’s Mental Health Moment: Going into Battle

This week, I have decided to go into battle! I’ve decided to quit being held hostage by depression and to give it a good seeing to.  As someone who knows how this ugly beast operates and who has a fairly good idea of the sneaky weapons it hides in its arsenal, I know this is going to be a tall order.  Also, because of rather unsuccessful and unpleasant past experiences, I decided to forego medication years ago so I will, in a pharmaceutical sense at least, be going in alone.  But, I have a “cunning plan” (though I hope to be more successful than the hapless Baldrick).

In hopes of setting myself up for success, I am keeping my plan to a simple, two-pronged attack utilizing the following strategies:

Focus on Others. This means I redirect my focus outward.  When I find myself wallowing under the cloud of depression, I often get stuck inside my own head – usually wrestling in a quagmire of sadness, worry, guilt, and “why bother” thinking, so much so that I lose sight of those around me and how I could be helping them.

Now, this doesn’t mean I’m suddenly going full on Sir Bob Geldoff, one has to be realistic after all.  It does mean that I can start small – by focusing on my friends and family. Asking someone how their day went and genuinely listening to their response, offering to run an errand for someone, or taking the time to cook a healthy dinner for my family are all small actions that can have a big impact on someone else and on me.  It doesn’t take much to reset your focus or retrain your brain, if you start with the small things.  Once I’ve worked on the small things, then I can use that momentum to perhaps seek volunteer opportunities elsewhere.

Keep Moving Forward. To be honest, this goal scares me the most because it means I will need to fight the overwhelming exhaustion that hits when depression comes a knockin’.  I will have to ignore my brain when it bullies me into thinking that everything is pointless.  I will need to find the strength to get up and get going when all I want to do is hide under the covers all day.   I will have to dig deep and pray for the energy to do whatever it takes to not end up a lump on the couch.  I will need to remind myself that as long as I continue to let depression rob me of my motivation and hope, I also allow it to rob me of my dreams and ambitions. And, though it may be late in the day, I still do have dreams and ambitions!

I don’t know how successful my two-pronged attack against the Goliath depression will be, but I am more hopeful this time around.  Perhaps it is because I’m finally angry enough; perhaps it is because I’m finally determined enough; or, perhaps it is because I’ve finally accepted that depression is just a part of who I am, it is not WHO I AM.

I expect this will be a bumpy campaign and I am keeping my expectations low. That may not sound very positive to someone else, but sometimes that’s where you have to start when you take on depression.  So, I enter into this new week with a reserved sense of hope, a dash of determination, and minimal expectation.  But, my slingshot is primed and ready.


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