“I know I should get out and exercise.”
“I can’t just sit here. I ought to do something productive.”
“Look at the place: it’s a mess – and I just can’t seem to care…”
So often, people suffering with depression sit on the sofa and beat themselves up for having depression.
Oh, we know we are depressed, but we think, if only we could motivate ourselves to exercise, to achieve something, to tidy and clean our surroundings, then we would feel much better.
The temptation of this thinking is strong. We know that, when we go on a brisk walk in the fresh air, we feel invigorated. When we achieve something productive, we feel a glow of satisfaction. We feel more at peace when our surroundings are clean and ordered.
Even the “Experts” say, “Exercise has been proven to be as effective as medication in many cases of mild to moderate depression.”
Feeling unable to do these things makes us feel even worse.
Some of the symptoms of depression, however, are that very lack of motivation; a lack of focus; an inability to feel any sense of vigour, satisfaction; peace; or anything much. People with depression often feel dead and grey inside.
It is not only futile, but self-defeating to blame ourselves for exhibiting the symptoms of depression.
This lock down period has been hard on many who live with mental health issues. I think it has been particularly hard on those who normally manage their depression through organised activities with others. Exercise classes have been suspended; clubs have stopped meeting. Even if your group meets online, it is not easy to eat a meal, craft together, or to play scrabble without the physical presence of others.
It may be that your symptoms of depression have worsened over the past six months.
Don’t blame yourself for it; view it instead as one more side effect of the Covid pandemic. Accept it for what it is – a worsening of your symptoms through no fault of your own.
Acceptance does not mean wallowing in self-pity; it just means removing that weight of guilt from your shoulders. Beating yourself up will only prolong your illness.
But you can do something positive – you can reach out.
Text a friend.
A friend might not completely understand, but they might be willing to call round, to encourage you to leave the sofa and go for a (socially distanced) walk together. While we can still meet in groups of six, a small group of friends might keep you company, if only to watch a little TV together.
The first step is reaching out. Even if you feel you have no one to reach out to, you will be surprised at how kind and accepting even casual acquaintances can be.
You are not to blame; it’s not your fault, but you can take the first, teeny tiny step. If you’re reading this, that’s a first step in itself.
A Moodscope member.