Sisyphus on the beach

Dealing with recurrent depression is a Sisyphean process: you push your boulder up the hill, knowing at some point it is going to roll right back down, and require pushing up again.

It’s fair to say that Sisyphus’ boulder has been rolling around all over the place around here for the past few weeks: I think I’m starting to feel better, but then things hurtle on down to rock bottom.

One good thing is that, having dealt with these depressive phases since my teenage years, the process is quite familiar. Another good thing is that, however exhausting, however relentless, my lows can be, I do have useful strategies to deal with them.

I generally know if a bad day is upon me (immediately when waking up), and I can then use my morning walk to my advantage. Walking outside for an hour or two, I have various psychological techniques that I practice, and which work well to turn disordered and negative thoughts around.

The act of walking itself is critical to this process.

The dogs are helpful too.

And a fresh, bright day and beautiful surroundings are certainly an added bonus.

I can’t use this process to walk and think my way completely out of a crashing low, but its daily re-iteration certainly helps make things more bearable.

Getting good, regular sleep is crucial. Reading or writing (about a topic unrelated to how I’m feeling) and knitting (of course) can be helpful too.

Depression is very boring (as well as quite relentless) and the fact that I am writing this at all is a sign that things are definitely starting to improve. This is good, but it can be a difficult moment too.

. . . because instead of feeling horribly desperate or doom-laden, I now often wake up feeling half-way ok. This is both heartening and exciting: I then get a bit lost in the welcome sensation of feeling just a little better, and become overwhelmed by a terrible impatience to just be WELL . . .

. . . which in its turn can make any ensuing “bad” days a bit more difficult to deal with.

Sisyphus’ boulder just keeps on rolling . . .

At some point in its inevitable rise and fall . . .

. . . I’ll find an equilibrium.

With thanks and love to Tom for supporting me through this depressive phase, as well as the many others which have preceded it.