Are You Feeding Depression?

***Originally posted in https://lifeinthespectrum.com/.

heaven1 - IG

When you are in that place, that dark inescapable place where depression traps your thoughts and emotions, you feel like you are surrounded in blackness. There are no doors to open. No exits to be found. You’re trapped there until the lies of your mind go quiet and the treacherous confusion clears.

There’s no ON/OFF switch for depression nor is there a quick fix formula to keep it away forever. Is there anything that you can realistically do to make it stop?

Without question you have to speak up and ask for professional help. Beyond that, I believe that one of the most important steps you can take when you are struggling with depression is to ask yourself if you are feeding the monster. Are you helping the downward spiral spin even more furiously?

Those of us who have struggled with depression often do so in the shadows, but we may reveal our hurts in less visible ways. Some people write anonymous blogs that focus on their heaviest of thoughts and emotions. I have read extensive poetry written by people who either love Edgar Allan Poe’s dark style or (more likely) are struggling with their own mental health challenges. There are countless art pieces celebrating the dark night of the soul, and you could pack any home to the ceilings with books about the hopeless feelings of those suffering with depression, OCD, severe anxiety, thoughts of suicide and attempts to take one’s life.

We commend the bravery of those willing to speak their blackest truths as so many continue to stay silent about their mental health struggles in the public eye. We celebrate those who are able to create tangible evidence of those intangible mental shackles.

But it is really healthy to create or celebrate that? From my non-professional off-kilter and utterly imperfect viewpoint, I would say yes and no.

We can’t bottle up the immeasurable pain, slap a smile on our faces, and “fake it till you make it” all away. We need to be able to be honest about what we are going through if we are going to find a way to healing. We benefit from finding a community of people who may be facing different challenges but who can relate to the pain of feeling broken, unworthy, or unwell. Giving voice or visual to our struggles reminds others that they aren’t alone in those times, and we receive the same benefit when we see it from another.

However it takes a very sinister turn once that becomes the predominant or, much much worse, the only voice we have. When we start to focus entirely on hopelessness, giving up, perpetual loneliness, being shattered, feeling worthless, or wanting to die, we poison our thoughts. We energize the darkness and validate the confusion and pain. Those thoughts that dig at the mind become more and more real, and our ability to push them away from center stage decreases.

Attention is attention, and negative attention still fills that desire. Are you being supportive of someone who is struggling or are you feeding the monster? Are you giving voice to your pain or are you inviting it closer?

One of my children is an excellent writer who sometimes drifts into Emo Land. I think it’s good for him to work through the pain sometimes with the writing, but it concerns me when his teachers tell me how much they love or admire his willingness to share those feelings so extensively. I know my child, and this kid lives for teacher praise (nerd!) (but at least he comes by that honestly). If his instructor goes gaga over dark twisty, that theme and tone will pervade his writing. As I’ve seen him run with the “yay for your sad compositions” bait in the past, I now make a point to talk to his writing teachers to ask them to focus their high praise on alternate styles of compositions. I also try to give my child some glimpse into the importance of looking for the light rather than taking a dive into the darkness. It’s too easy to get stuck on that path of despair. I know this first-hand because I was there for many years, too.

words1

Admittedly this is serious weak sauce for dark poetry, but it’s not my thing anymore nor do I feel like taking much time to hunt through our fridge magnets at midnight.

I struggled with suicide and depression since I was very young. My negative thoughts and feelings became a natural part of everything that I composed including silly stuff like poems I compiled from refrigerator word magnets.

My husband (who was my then newish boyfriend at that time) landed in the relationship emotional intelligence hall of fame when he read some of my dark twisty fridge masterpieces and responded with his unfiltered and resounding review of, “You need to cut that sh*t out now.”

His response was utterly jarring to me. I said nothing aloud in return, but my mind screamed. Didn’t he see how deeply troubled I was? How could he be so cold about my pain? Why would he be so callous about my inner battle that he could never comprehend? What a massive jerk / soon to be ex-boyfriend!

But then I thought about his words. And then I thought about my own. What I was saying on my poor unsuspecting fridge? Why was I writing that stuff? What benefit was I getting from inviting the darkness in and why was I coating my major appliances with feelings that I was trying to escape? In that moment, I realized exactly what I was doing.

I was feeding the monster.

I never told him that he was right (a tradition that I continue to uphold whenever possible in our marriage to this day), but I did take down the festival of sadness as soon as he was out of view. He wasn’t asking me to pretend that I was happy when I wasn’t, but he didn’t have any interest in my parading around that level of negativity like it was fine art either. Until he pointed it out, I did not recognize how that I was validating and emphasizing the very feelings that I was trying to shake. I had been viciously chumming the water while simultaneously praying for the sharks to leave.

This is a tremendous problem on social media. If you have ever searched for #depression, #mentalhealth, or #suicide, you can find horribly dark and sad posts and photos with thousands and thousands of likes. They aren’t focused on healing. They are focused on pain. And to be clear once more, I’m not saying that it’s wrong to feel that way or even that it’s wrong to talk, write, or create art about mental health struggles and crises. But don’t go out of your way to embrace and celebrate them. Don’t cover your fridge in sadness and don’t spend your hours devouring and liking the pain of others.

If you want to heal, look for those who talk focus on getting better. If you want to step out of the darkness, look for the light instead. If the negativity of the news is making you feel hurt or angry, change the frickin’ channel or better yet turn it off altogether and go for a walk. And perhaps most importantly of all, if your fridge is turning all dark and twisty, invest in five dollars worth of sasquatch-themed word magnets. They are worth every penny, and that is one monster that you are welcome to feed (no offense intended to Bigfoot or lovers of said scientifically unsubstantiated ginormous critter).

words2

Again not my best, but it’s 1 am so you get what you get.

Always remember that whatever you take in feeds some part of you. If you want to feel better, nourish the good and offer that to your heart, mind, and soul. Your worse case scenario is five dollars down with a kick ass set of fridge magnets waiting in the wings.

Don’t get in your own way. You are healthier, stronger, and more incredible than you possibly know. Look for that and celebrate it. You got this honey. It’s time to let the real you shine.

Big hugs to all.

Jo Price  🙂

The images below will take you straight to Amazon if you feel like jazzing up your fridge. The sasquatch pack is hilarious, but they are even more fun if you add the Lumberjack addition to the mix. If you do buy these, please take pics of your art. We fall out laughing everytime we see these. 😉

***Originally posted in https://lifeinthespectrum.com/.

30 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. shalini
    Sep 10, 2018 @ 06:50:51

    I was very very sad yesterday, everything got to me, even the minutest of things… So I was very very angry as I don’t like being depressed. But the pain couldn’t seem to leave me.
    I am not the sorts to share on a post every time I am sad, but sometimes I do if I feel it would be cathartic…
    Yesterday was a backup of all the hurt of previous months. And I was feeding it a bit… Till night 10 pm, my mind was very restless felt as if heart would break… Till I finished a novel, wrote the review… I got a sense of accomplishment so I decided to do some short tasks with instant gratification… I had a few things to clean, clothes to iron. So I did that… And the fact I tick marked the done box of my to do list helped me come out of the sadness.
    I can’t change the wrongs Jo…sadness will come and go. But by doing something positive, I got a feeling of self worth which helped me break the vicious cycle.
    Pain is there, you know most things of my life, but it is not on my foreground affecting my today…
    Pain is okay to deal with, the sadness is a bit difficult but both walk hand in hand sometimes…
    OK have I gone on a tangent? Well you always seem to have that affect on me
    Love you always, soul sister

    Reply

    • Jo Price
      Sep 10, 2018 @ 07:30:07

      I love this comment on so many levels, and I am absolutely with you on it. We all can feel terribly beat up by our life experiences and emotions at times. And sometimes those times feel like they won’t ever stop. I find that giving voice to my heavy feelings helps me work through them and (hopefully) release some of the pain. But I can’t stay in that place and I can’t endlessly inundate myself with the pain of others. I used to do that. I sought out others who felt shattered and took in their words like a life sentence. I wrote in darkness, too. It was my status quo.

      You and I hurt. We hurt very very deeply sometimes. But it’s not our go to writing. We don’t rejoice in our pain nor do we push a sense of endless hopelessness. Sad days happen but they don’t control our every thought and word.

      You are beautiful and brave my friend, and the darkness that can be found will always be outshine by that inner you carry. Your comment proves that. You may have felt like you were drowning, but you did not allow yourself to be swallowed up by it. You are a brave one honey, and as always, you inspire me. ❤️

      Reply

  2. LA
    Sep 10, 2018 @ 08:04:37

    Great post. You’re right, of course, that you need to look to the positive. If you keep dwelling in despair you will get lost in it. Now I don’t believe in the whole relentless positivity thing, but, you need to look at the good.❤️❤️❤️

    Reply

  3. José María López
    Sep 10, 2018 @ 08:41:11

    You´re so wise, my friend!! I worry about the effects of social media in society. People look desperate for attention and they receive tons of it even for unhealthy behaviors.
    Good for your husband who took the risk to look mean and unsympathetic in order to make you see an unhealthy behavior. That is true love!!, not all that “PMP” bs. I hope you still remember the term. 😉

    Reply

    • Jo Price
      Sep 10, 2018 @ 12:15:06

      That’s the part the that is so concerning to me, too. Society gives validation to the worst behaviors. The unhealthiest posts receive incessant praise and are revered as reflections of bravery. I don’t have an issue with speaking from that dark place, and I absolutely do that at times, too. But it should not be celebrated and encouraged. It’s poisonous to live in that mental state. PMP is something different here now. What was that again???

      Reply

  4. Blueinkwriter
    Sep 10, 2018 @ 10:56:12

    This is so spot on. I’m definitely guilty of writing from the sad place, probably more often than I should, but I definitely recognize when it’s becoming a theme. If I start feeling like that’s all I have to write about, I quit writing for a while. Not to spare others, but to spare myself!

    Love the fridge magnets. I know what I want for Christmas now!

    Reply

    • Jo Price
      Sep 10, 2018 @ 12:04:07

      I’m like you. If I can’t get away from leaning into the negative, I have to back myself out of it until the haze clears a bit. If I don’t, it starts to grow, and I feel worse – not better. The funny fridge magnets are a definite win in the making. I added a link on the post to show the ones I bought. I also added a link to the lumberjack edition. They are hysterical together. Our fridge has all kinds of poems about hairy bigfoot moustaches. lol

      Reply

      • Blueinkwriter
        Sep 10, 2018 @ 12:13:01

        I never knew there were “theme” packs of fridge magnets. I could definitely see myself going overboard with them…

      • Jo Price
        Sep 10, 2018 @ 12:16:24

        Girl yes I so know it! I have to admit that I bought these as Xmas gifts for my husband and kids, and while they have enjoyed them, I totally had my own entertainment in mind, too. 😂

  5. A. Shepherdson
    Sep 10, 2018 @ 12:38:00

    I don’t consider celebrating the ‘Black Dog’ through writing a good idea, a personal choice of course, so I err on the side of ‘light fluffy and positive’, I honestly do believe upbeat writing improves the spirits and you’re right to be mindful of your son’s written tone.

    Reply

    • A. Shepherdson
      Sep 10, 2018 @ 12:44:34

      …………. I’ll edit that to 😀 entertaining and positive,

      Reply

    • Jo Price
      Sep 10, 2018 @ 14:02:55

      I have actually written long angry dark posts and popped them on the internet only to take them down the next morning or even a few minutes later when those clouds clear. I don’t worry about other people seeing those words, but rather I don’t like empowering those feelings. Sometimes it’s what I am feeling in the moment but it’s not healthy when i find myself fueling the fires. I don’t want my son to feel like his emotions are being disregarded, but I know what a runaway train the mind can become if we encourage that kind of thinking within ourselves. I love that you look to the light. Really. It’s the best thing we can do. You don’t have to fake it to be able to find some kind of positive in your days – even the dark ones. Love this comment. Thanks so so much. 🤗

      Reply

      • A. Shepherdson
        Sep 10, 2018 @ 15:21:41

        🙂 I gain a great deal from reading serious and thoughtful blogs…………….. and the silly and amusing ones are great to!

      • Jo Price
        Sep 10, 2018 @ 15:23:40

        Adding a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar is my favorite ingredient mix.. Gotta add a little of each to get all the flavor. Life is a lot like that, too. 😉

  6. Sharon
    Sep 10, 2018 @ 21:45:46

    I absolutely love this post, it all makes such perfect sense!!! I have caught myself feeding the negativity monster in my own life at times. For myself, my goal is to come out of the gloom and find ways to show others that it is ok to do it too. Thanks again for the words of wisdom!!

    Reply

  7. overthehillontheyellowbrickroad
    Sep 13, 2018 @ 09:05:23

    As always, great post. I obsess and get locked into anxiety and obsess with physical aches and pains. Believe it or not, when my husband says sort of sharply, “You’re fine!” ….I snap out of it.

    Reply

  8. Living A Life Of Lies
    Sep 18, 2018 @ 06:02:45

    great post ! really enjoyed reading it 👍

    Reply

  9. momminainteasypeasy
    Oct 29, 2018 @ 10:26:11

    yes! our minds feed ourselves!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: