Sunday, November 17, 2013

Do the Opposite

It's 8:42 this Sunday morning, and I'm at home with a sick baby. Low-grade fever, cough, runny nose... you know the bit.

Our church's live service doesn't start until 10am, and I am determined not to do housework since today is my Sabbath.

So I guess what's left is this. Blogging.

Can I just confess something? Writing about depression is HARD.  It's raw and vulnerable and putting-yourself-out-there-without-a-safety-net HARD.

I write. And I erase. And I write again. And then it sits in my "saved" file for a week while I try to decide if I'm going to hit "Publish." Then when I do finally hit it, I hover over the Stats page while I simultaneously Facebook my close friends with statements like, "Have I lost my mind?" or "Should I take it down?"

I have amazing friends who encourage me to write write write. Still... it's HARD.

So you'll forgive me if I take a few days (weeks, months, whatever) in between the posts?

Having said that... I do have another Tool in my Toolbox that I would like to share. This one isn't flashy or high-tech. It isn't fun, and it isn't magic. It's simple. And it's HARD.

But we can do hard things, you and I.


I walked into my first counseling appointment that fateful Wednesday afternoon at 4pm. And I talked and cried and poured out all the tears and emotions that I had bottled up over the previous weeks. 

I told him how I felt worthless. Life felt too hard. I told him how just getting off the couch hurt my whole body. I sobbed my way through explaining how taking a shower wore me out, and my arms felt like a million pounds as I tried to lift them to wash my hair. I felt like a horrible wife. I felt incapable of making decisions. I felt my life would be better spent on the couch than trying and failing over and over again. I felt like my children would be better off without me...

For fifty five minutes, I hemorrhaged feelings and tears and pain and exhaustion and all of the gross icky black that I had never allowed anyone else to see.  And when I was completely empty and breathless, my counselor spent the last five minutes of our session speaking a few words that I hung onto for life.

He told me I was not beyond hope, and that - despite my being convinced of it - I should not be committed. He recommended a book, which I will now recommend to you:

Feeling Good, by David D. Burns, M.D.

Then he told me something that has become my mantra when the depression demons sneak back around. He said: The thing about depression is that you can't trust your feelings. Your feelings are broken. Your feelings aren't proportionate to what's really happening. Your feelings lie. 

And if your feelings lie, then you have to do the opposite of what you feel.

Do the opposite.

It was simple. It was hard. But it was a lifeline.

For the following week, I felt like getting out of bed would kill me. But I got out of bed anyway. Putting on real clothes felt like picking up 100lb weights. But I got dressed anyway. Every muscle in my body ached for the couch, and I felt like staying upright would cause me to melt into the floor. But I sat up anyway.

It. Was. Hard.

It didn't make sense.

Every nerve ending in my body was FEELING and screaming for me to lie down and be still and just. give. up.

But I didn't. And through it all, I heard his voice (and what I now realize was the voice of my Father) saying, "Your feelings lie. Do the opposite."

So here's what I'm saying to you on this rainy Sunday morning. Do the opposite.

You may not be able to stop the fear, the anxiety, the pain, the hopelessness, the darkness, the emptiness.

But you can get up. You can pick up the phone and tell somebody. You can get dressed. You can survive this. You can.

You can do it when it doesn't make sense. You can do it when everything in your body says you can't.

You can do it afraid.

And eventually, over time, your feelings will slowly catch up with your actions. They will.

And even if you can't believe that last line, get up anyway. Because you can.

You can. 

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Absolutely ABSOLUTE truth. So, so good, Brandy.

"Do it afraid" is brilliant and real and true. I had not ever thought of that phrase, but that is exactly what ultimately crushed the power of fear in my life: feeling terrified but "doing the stuff" anyway, afraid or not. Thanks for putting it into words, a phrase.

What a surprise to find out we're stronger than we knew. Stronger than despair and terror.

I love you. Keep writing. I'm reading.

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood