Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A leap of faith

"This is when you must have faith," she said. "Even though it doesn't feel better in the moment, the cumulative effect of getting out and exercising will be positive." I had just explained how painful it was to go to my favorite state park and feel nothing, which is exactly what happened on Saturday. I made the effort. I went to a place I love. I expected it would help. It didn't. Nonetheless, my therapist encouraged me to continue getting out despite this unmet expectation of relief.

It's so hard to get out when getting out is not reinforcing. If I feel no benefit from something which used to bring multiple benefits, how can I continue to do it? Why would I continue doing it? Isn't that a bit like banging one's head against a wall? Except instead of BANG--OUCH, BANG--OUCH, I get BANG--NOTHING, BANG--NOTHING. The whole point of forcing myself out is to feel something...anything, please! Right now, I'm feeling nothing. Nothing is not reinforcing.

As usual, my therapist is correct, I think. On some level I think I know that. Yet, I don't trust it to be true. How do I know for sure that getting out--exercising--will eventually bring relief? How do I know it will ever feel good again? Why can't it feel good now? Why do I have to wait? How can I be expected to continue pushing when pushing yields no results? I want to believe her. I want to have faith, but faith is a leap.

Positive steps should yield positive results. I know I have to keep pushing myself. I know I have to trust in the cumulative effect, just like she said. I have to take that leap of faith--one day, one moment, one action at a time. Unfortunately, the hole of nothingness has swallowed me whole, and positive reinforcement feels a long, long way away.

**picture: Black Hole by Hikari Riku


Mohican said...

I've lurked here for a while now, and this post is a very good description of depression. I think you must know that "getting out--exercising-" isn't going to immediately change anything, but you can't help feeling that it should. Having had depression all my life I see it as a malaria-like disease, coming and going in cycles. While this is a low point for you now, my feeling is that it may simply need to run its course. By all means keep doing those things that you like, but don't let the failed expectation of relief exacerbate your situation. You have an athlete's take on depression - which I had always thought was unusual until finding out about the many, many athletes who have it - but no amount of running or exercising will undo that staff meeting, or your car breaking down, or all the other little things that pile up to possibly cause a depression reaction. Time, which depression seems to drag out forever, is also its own main enemy. When my friend depression visits me, I outfight it by outwaiting it. This will pass, and once past will inevitably return again.

etta said...

Thank you, Mohican--
You clearly understand depression. I appreciate your comment. You are right. I do know that this will pass. Having this illness for eight years, that is one thing I have learned. Unfortunately, as you pointed out, time often drags while attempting to wait it out. The challenge, as you know, is to continue moving forward, despite the fact that moving forward feels so impossible and un-rewarding. I appreciate that you "get" that.