What if you can’t cure your depression, does that mean you simply allow it to take you prisoner? No, Keep Those Joy Fires Burning.
It wasn’t that long ago where I thought I’d never feel again. The world around me was drenched in pointlessness. And the prospect of a good future? Well, that was never going to happen. I was convinced of that. You see, what people don’t understand is that those with depression are living in the moment. Funny considering this is what the internet keeps telling me this is what I should be doing. I guess sometimes, those trending buzzwords can do more harm than good, depending on what psychological state you’re in when you read them.
No, really, you are living in the moment. And it makes sense when you think about it. See, when depression speaks, it keeps you locked in. “I’m no good.” “what’s the point of all that surrounds me,” “I’m too tired of it so I’ll just stay in bed.”
Makes perfect sense to a mind that is low on serotonin and high on absolute despair. For me, depression is like some self-love stealing, soul crushing executioner, who’s embedded himself in my head and is slowly and painfully snuffing my life force to death.
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But here’s the thing, there is always a chance that the manifestation of the dull but painful feeling of depression is just a moment in time. Even, like in my case where depression is always present, always ready to take me down with its depression’s mindset, I can work on improving my life. Ok, some days this isn’t always possible but instead of surrendering to its powers, I embrace them.
What’s the difference you ask? Well, you see, I am a forty-seven-year-old man with depression. While this isn’t what I dreamed of for a man of middle age, it is, nonetheless, my reality. So, I decided to yell it out, to accept my fate, and thankfully, I developed an action-oriented mindset. It would appear as though the simple act of a different way of thinking about it, opened up an avenue I didn’t know existed. This is what makes accepting it would have meant drowning to the bottom of the deepest pits of despair, whereas embracing it helps me to reclaim my life.
I guess the flames that burn deep down, the energy giving me the zest for life has never been extinguished. Rather, they were merely buried under the weight of dread and sorrow. Nevertheless, they were still there, dancing and providing me with blips of joy. Man, when I think about how those short but sweet moments made me feel alive again, I set out to find a way to stoke the fires. I thought, “maybe if I can get these oppressed but alive flames dancing higher, maybe I can kill the executioner.”
“You can’t merely watch a flame dance around and expect it to always keep you warm.” A thought I had several times on my road to mental wellness. “So, then Jonathan, what would you have to do to keep it burning? The answer is of course, a simple one. Add more fuel, right? Buy the wood, split the wood, bring it in the house and get it set afire. A lot of work and honestly, not something I want to take on. Buuuut if I want the heat, I must put in the work.
And really, reclaiming my life is no different. If I want a chance at more happy and less days of isolation and sadness, I would have to put in the work.
“What if, like working to get the wood, I had no choice but to find a way to burn my own eternal flame of joy higher and hotter”? Well, as it turns out, this is exactly what I had to do.
Education became my weapon of choice to counteract depression. I learned a lot. For instance, if I ate better, exercised three times a week and forced myself to be a bit social, I would see improvements. Sure enough, when I decided to take action, I did indeed see and feel a difference.
At the end of the day what we do or don’t do will affect the outcome. Because I worked towards a better, healthier lifestyle, I have had more joy in my life. For me, I’m not looking for a cure, that’s not going to happen, but what I am aiming for is more smiles and laughter, love and connection.
I believe in my heart that you can find more joy too.