"Just Do It" (as in the Nike slogan) may not be the most sensitive of advice to receive, but I found it often worked for me.
Since changing life circumstances (new job after too many years, clutch of children now virtually adult) I haven't suffered depression since my fiftieth birthday. But the previous fifteen years were an unpleasant revelation of "the flip side" of what it feels like being human.
I sometimes now wonder if I had it particularly bad. Who will ever know. It felt awful. And what's more real than a feeling? I've met others since who take steps to shut it all down. Lucky perhaps, I never did. I did learn loads about me during that hard time though, all of it bad, but I'm kinder in my interpretation with hindsight. My best friend had just suddenly died; we were swamped with three very active babies; I was in something of a rut at work; and I wasn't very good at sacrificing my time, my sleep, my health, my pursuits, when I couldn't discern the reward I'd expected most new parents to feel.
So, among other avenues, I just slogged on. A hundredweight of plums needed de-stoning, I slogged on. The garden soak away needed rebuilding I slogged on. Another twenty nappies needed shovelling out to the bin, I slogged on. I didn't feel smugness or achievement or 'having won', but it filled the day, was unequivocally needed, and could get crossed off that interminable domestic list! Sometimes it brought us together as a couple (which was good); sometimes it gave the essential space to keep us apart (also good!). It provided an air of normality, helped me feel less conspicuous, gave me something to talk of if ever I met someone: always a challenge. And the exertion, or the therapeutic undemanding repetition, was good for the 'head chemistry'.
Was there an alternative? Oh yes. Some days I sat inert, staring nowhere in particular. A few I cowered in bed. Very many I couldn't see the gap between my likes and hates. And, for myself, I still can't tell if I do best with carrot or stick. So mix them up a bit.
Ours is not to (over) reason why. As the mother of the dead friend said, "the human spirit is remarkably elastic". So, sometimes, just slog on. You may come back to recognising the real you.
A Moodscope user.
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