I went to see Cloe this morning and got some words. I spilled many of my own, too... mainly talking about my feeling that even though life is "good" right now, I don't *feel* "good." I had a rough last two years or so, some of which I blogged about and some of which I didn't. A lot of the hard stuff is now *past* (the death of my best friend, my being in chronic pain and unable to walk normally or at all, medical crises of family members, etc) and I feel I should be "over it"... but I'm not. I thought that when I was able to walk again and wasn't in pain every hour of every day, I would be so much happier. I thought that after a year of grieving, the depression would lift and I would miss him less and start to feel better. I thought that when they got through the hard medical stuff with fairly good results, I would be relieved. I thought the stress and sadness would dissipate and in its place, rays of sunshine would bean down on me from above, warming me... my arms raised, my face turned upward basking in the brightness with a great, big smile and a new joy and energy glowing from every pore.
But it just didn't happen that way.
When all of that stuff was going on, I think I had a right to be depressed. I mean, anyone would be depressed going through those kinds of things. But now that the bad stuff is over I look around for my rainbows and springtime and it's just not there. And now, I feel guilty for how I feel.
"There is nothing to be depressed about!" I tell myself. "You should be thankful that your son is alive. You should be grateful your child is well. You should be doing somersaults of joy that your plantar fasciitis is FINALLY gone. You should be glad you can walk again." But I'm not doing somersaults and although I am super thankful for good results and outcomes, for some reason all of the sadness didn't go away. And that is the guilt: I SHOULD BE happy now.
Cloe talked to me about how depression works and doesn't work, that it's not always brought on by something bad happening and doesn't always go away when things are fine. And long periods of high stress or pain actually changes brain chemistry. It can take awhile... and a lot of work... to get it back to a normal, non-depressed state.
We talked about how sugar has become my drug again recently, as I self-medicate in times of sadness and guilt. She validated my feelings that eating a cupcake DOES WORK... in the short term. I can feel so low, so confined by my own feelings some days but if I think to myself "I can go get a cupcake at the bakery" I suddenly perk up, and as I take that first bite the sugar rush truly makes me feel *so much better." I feel normal... happy! All the sadness and feeling of "blah" literally disappears. I eat that thing and I am great for an hour! I have energy, I feel more positive and cheery and everything I'd been wanting to feel. But then every time without fail, by the time the two hour mark rolls around I feel worse. Frustrated, tired, and craving more sugar.
I know this, but it is hard to say no to that sugar fix that will make me feel better, even for a little while. A couple of times a week, I just get so tired of being tired and sad that I go to the store or the bakery and get a brownie or something. Just one. I know better than to make a batch at home. And I eat it and feel great. And this past week when I have done that I have been buying a little extra, one more cookie or a bar of chocolate to bring home so I can have a "fix" later when I can't take it anymore. It is a very effective "medication" for me, but the side effects are just awful, and it only works in the very short term.
Cloe talked to me about making some changes in what I have been doing. She told me that I need to form a Delay Habit: when I decide I am going to go buy a cookie or eat a square of chocolate or whatever, I have to force myself to do 3 other things first. They can be things off my to-do list, things I need to do around the house, cleaning or laundry or taking a walk. And once I have completed those 3 things, *if I still need to* I can go and buy that cookie. So I am going to do that since obviously the cold turkey thing has not been working for me. Cloe thinks I will feel better about myself for having done the three things, and this may snowball into doing even more things instead of eating. And that if I break the habit this way and start to change things, eventually I will not feel such a strong drive to self-medicate with sugar.
She also told me I can work on self-love and not feeling guilty about not being "happy enough". We talked about how I have had friends who are depressed and I would never dream of judging them or saying "she has nothing to be depressed about!" because I do understand the nature of depression. I just don't think to apply that same compassion to myself as I am coming out of a hard time. I also need to remember that it is possible to be grateful and sad at the same time. Being depressed does not mean you are self-centered, don't appreciate what you have, or are ungrateful. It is a medical, physical condition and not a sign of moral weakness or lack of good character. Feeling guilty about not being happy doesn't help at all.
There is more, but I'll write later. Thank you for hearing me.
Watch this space!
3 hours ago