Friday, September 20, 2013

The Enemy Within

On the long, wakeful nights when I contemplate the End of Life as I know it, a heavy and wearying
depression tries to take hold. Its embrace at first seems light, as though it barely brushes against me. It whispers that it isn't dangerous. The Depression sings sweetly of a darkness without end that I can create if rule under the Mothmen is too oppressive.

Depression is a liar. It tries to trick me into thinking it's a long-forgotten friend. It is no friend. No confidant. It is an enemy that lives in the dark places of the mind waiting for a moment of weakness so that it can drag its victim into the Pit of Despair.
From Postpartum Progress

Simply tearing my thoughts away from that which upsets me doesn't work because, despite the phrasing, it isn't really simple at all. How does one combat her own darker tendencies? How does one avoid crashing her vulnerable ship with the lure of that sad siren's song? How does one fight such an enemy?

She Seeks Help
Once in a while, everyone needs a leg up. Going to a family member, friend, or therapist to talk is not a failing. It's the first step into combat. Yes, talking about the Mothmen can be a bit uncomfortable but it is important: talking about a problem gets the brain in gear behind the scenes to work out possible solutions.

She Considers the Advice
While one does not have to take every single piece of advice proffered (I would have played in traffic at a young at had I), at least consider the advice people give. Even bad advice, when it comes from loved ones, is meant to help.

Some suggestions may sound a bit new age crackpotty (e.g. - get an aura massage) and others may involve taking something to help (e.g. - anti-depressants). And you may rail at against the suggestions, but don't dismiss them without considering the benefits. Maybe take part of a suggestion: get a massage for the body and let the aura work itself out.

She Makes a List
I am a huge fan of lists. Especially lists of things that bother me. I may be a masochist, but not in this case. Listing out the Mothmen's attributes and deeds makes them real, but it also contains them. In confinement, they can be studied, altered, or eradicated.

This sounds easy. It isn't. It's hard work because while one does this, she must resist that siren's song. It will sing louder because it knows that the end is nigh.

Listing out the abominations also means that they can be researched: know thy enemy. Learn its  strengths and weaknesses. Use both strength and weakness against it.

She makes a list about herself as well: strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and failures. These are part of make up who she is: know thyself. Focus on the strengths and accomplishments. Work on the weaknesses. Revisit the failures. As Dr. Van Helsing said, "We learn from failure, not success!"

She Plans
Planning for the future has the obvious benefit of giving one something to look forward to. It also sets goals.

I don't know why this helps, but looking forward to a brighter tomorrow (rather than back at the dismal portrait of the past) is beneficial. It could just be that to plan ahead means one is able to envision herself in a different, better place.

What other ways can we defeat the enemy within?

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1 comment:

  1. When I was in college, and going nowhere the first three years (that moment when you realize you hate what you chose for your degree, and just wasted years of time taking the classes), I used to have short bursts of extreme depression. [This seems to be how I am in general - my temperament hits spaceship altitudes for a short period of time and drops, or hits rock bottom and then returns to normal shortly after, like extreme pendulum swinging {I'm going to make that a sport, by the way}.]

    During this period of time, when depression was coupled with stress or anxiety with the situation of "what am I doing/going to do with my life?" I would put my index and middle finger to my temple, imitating a gun, and bend my thumb like the hammer going down as the gun goes off. I don't know if this helped or if this was just an action I so desired to act out at the apex of my anxiety, but it typically marked the decline of my depression for the time being.