It is easy to get stuck in the spiral that is depression. Hell, I am still working my way out of this particular hole. The days are both long and short and fraught with the feeling of being overwhelmed. I am cracking and breaking and still I take on more and more to find some validation. My current hole sucks!
However, depression has its positive side as weird as that sounds. Here are some of the things that have had a positive effect:
The act of hitting rock bottom, and I mean bottom in that there was absolutely nothing left to feel or think has made me cherish all the moments since. Do I forget to take stock? Yes, way too regularly. Before the attempt nothing anyone said or did could ever make me feel like I was important or loved or even just noticed. It all felt wrong. Now, it can still feel wrong, but if I just wait a moment longer to let that pass, I can feel the love and attention.
The positive: to stop and wait before giving an emotion too much of a foothold.
I am able to focus better and lose myself in a task or hobby. This could be seen as avoidance but I have a history of never sitting through a movie (unless at a theatre) or TV show when I could be doing something else as well. I am going to exclude knitting / crocheting in front of the TV as the TV is the background noise rather than the focal point. And it is not just TV, I would be cooking and cleaning or working and something else. Never just one task at a time. Learning the habit of focus has helped immensely, with not just the depression, but completing those overwhelming to-do lists.
The positive: Being able to narrow down to one thing at a time with a mind that has dozens of open tabs
Diversity & perfectionism
This is a strange one for me. I used to have 2 main hobbies – reading and tapestry work. It was what my mother did, and her mother and so on. We read books as fast as they could be printed and did needlework as a distraction. It was women’s work without being too sarcastic about it. Now, I understand that I don’t have to have just 1 or 2 things – I can do anything I want to and I don’t have to be good at it!!. Yeah, another kicker right there! I don’t have to get it right on the first go, or even the 100th go. I just have to enjoy the process and the moment.
The positive: I can explore whatever new fancy catches my desire and do it just because.
We all carry a fear of our own mortality. It is inescapable that one day we wake up and realise that we too will die. We question our worth, our contribution and what we are leaving as a legacy. Sometimes this leads to the age old midlife crisis and other times it is just a few years of sleepless nights and 2am worry fests. It is real and something everyone of us faces. Depression has taught me that death itself is less scary and confronting than my episodes. Death is not a release per se, because you will not be around to see or feel any of that peace that comes with release. It is an definitive end but you yourself will not feel anything, so the concept of death = release is a lie.
The positive: If I want peace, I need to do that while living as death will not provide it to me
It is ok not to have the same dreams or goals as everyone else. The 4-bed, white picket fence with 2.5 kids is not for everyone. Neither is the fancy retirement home in some barricaded enclave. Some dreams are caravans and the open road or shacks that are way off grid or even a tent in as many places as you can. Some dreams are not about earning 6-figures but about making a difference (as my kids are teaching me) and being able to live. There was (and still is) pressure to conform to what society deem as being The Dream, and it takes too long to break this. Depression has ensured that I find ways to gently but firmly remove myself from that conformity and do what makes me feel comfortable in my skin.
The positive: I can see the value and joy in my own dreams and goals and they do not conform
There are a lot of positives and this just scrapes the surface in a light way. I have heaps to be grateful for. I can feel the warmth of the sun and I know that this is on its way out. A little more patience and a lot more faith in myself – one hour at a time.