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Drinking coffee in a tree

I've been working for all the week, and will work on saturday and sunday, and for the week to come. Luckily enough not all the days are completely full, so I have enough free time to rest. Today it is saturday, I have four customers for massage in the evening. In the morning I went for a walk in the forest with the horses. After that I decided to climb the oak in my yard.

I made some coffee and poured it into a mug with a lid. I carefully placed the mug in a plastig bag, which I grasped with my teeth. That way I could keep both of my hands free for climbing, still carrying a mug of coffee with me. It was a peaceful and beatiful moment; Sitting in a tree, having a view over my yard, enjoying coffee with no hurry. And it made me think of those years when I was more depressed.

When I was deep in depression, I always knew that I would normally enjoy climbing a tree and drinking coffee there. But I never felt like doing so, I was too exhausted, or felt too busy. And, actually, most of the time I felt bad or empty. It was as if my soul were filled with dark fog, making everything feel blurry, unreal, darkish, vague and powerless. This might be somewhat hard to understand for those who have never experienced depression; normally people feel good or OK, and if they feel bad there is some reason for that, and when the reason goes away they usually feel good again - of, of course, they don't always know what the reason was, but then something nice happens, cheering them up and they feel OK again. With depressed people this is not the case - even if something nice happens, a depressed person might not feel it as "nice and cheering" - it just feels empty, distant, devoid of meaning. Which makes it extremely hard to cheer up a depressed person. And that was the reason why I didn't feel like climbing trees when depressed. I knew that even if I did so, I wouldn't enjoy it. And that makes one even more depressed - doing something you know that you would normally enjoy, and still feeling bad inside.

Days of depression felt like trudging through waist-deep snow. Every step makes you fatigued. You feel that you just can't go on, you are too exhausted to keep going. Yet you know that if you stop and let yourself drop on the snow, you'll soon freeze to death. And somehow that is what you want to do, just to get rid of all this trudging, for once and for all. But a tiny voice somewhere deep inside keeps on telling you that it is possible to make it out of this snow, to walk until the spring comes. You believe in summer - it is only that you feel that you can't possibly make it through the next day, and still there are weeks and months left... And for me it was years. Years of depression, heavy days one after one.

Still, slowly, day after day, things got easier. There were some very healing moments, good therapy sessions, and fine moments with other people. Somehow I was kind of always waiting for a miracle to happen - when I fell asleep I wished that I could wake up the next morning, feeling OK and recovered. But insead of any sudden twist it was just a long process, with ups and downs, sidesteps and moments of despair.

Today, when sitting in the oak I felt that this is my life, I can enjoy this moment. I recognize there is still left some of the dark fog of depression, but it isn't overwhelming. And I'm not worried about it - I believe that it will slowly fade away. And I'm not writing this because I want everybody to know how I felt - no, I'm writing this as I hope that this will be of some help for others who are suffering from depression, or who live with a depressed person. First of all, it is not a shame to talk about it. Secondly, one of the symptoms of depression is the feeling that nothing is going to help - game over. That makes depression a vicious thing; if you have a broken leg, you understand it and know that it is possible to recover. But when you have a broken mind, you just feel that all hope is gone. Your rational mind can read and think and understand that this feeling of despair is just a symptom of a mental disorder, and that you have to fight it. Then, on the other hand, one of the key elements in recovery is to accept oneself. (A part of depression is hatred turned towards oneself). It sounds like a paradox - when depressed, you have accept yourself, to accept yourself as depressed, to accept all of your feelings - and then just letting some of the feelings come and go, and fuelling those feelings that you believe are going to help you. A simple example; for me it was that I accepted that I'm exhausted. Instead of blaming myself for not being able to do as many things I wanted to do, I just accepted my exhaustion and sleeped a lot. And eventually that helped, together with therapy, medication, people and animals.

an elevated coffee break
elevated coffee break
it is fair trade coffee, no milk no sugar =)
fair trade coffee
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Comments

Mu!

Good post.

As you write, the dichotomy between the rational mind and the emotions is very true: when depressed, you can rationalize that it is only depression that is making you feel and see life this way, not reality, but just understanding this doesn't make much of a difference. Rationally you can understand it, but that still doesn't make it "real" in your experience. Most of the time, the rational understanding is only enough to prevent you from doing something extreme, but not enough to actually make you feel different.

Well put! I attended cognitive psychoterapy for one year. The basic idea of that therapy was that I have unrealistic beliefs about myself, and it should help me when we analyze my beliefs and see how they are not true. Like, I constantly felt that I'm not good, that I'm bad, wrong and non-accepted. But I already knew that it is not true - but that doesn't make the feeling go away. I said to the therapist, half jokingly "See, I already know that my beliefs are wrong. That is what they kept telling me when I was kid. How is it supposed to help me if we once again examine all the ways my beliefs and feelings are wrong and untrue?"

After that year I found a therapist whose way of working was more suited for me. A year with that another therapist, and I was ready to buy my current house =)

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