The pain and darkness of my depression were so severe, constant and intense, that for a long time, even after these symptoms started to let up, I felt traumatized by having lived through it. The thought of ever digressing back into that nightmare filled me with fear. I hoped and prayed that it would be a steady path up and out of depression because I knew I could not bear that again. It was nothing short of a nightmare, come alive.
In the years following the initial onset of my depression, my symptoms did, very slowly continue to improve. The progress was painfully slow, however and I wondered time and again if I would ever be free of it entirely.
In the past, when I enjoyed a period of good health, I relished in having a challenge. I loved pushing myself to do the best I could at whatever I was involved in. I enjoyed the burn in my lungs and legs from doing a long run outside. I enjoyed yoga and pushed myself to greater strength by doing challenging poses. But at this point in time–while recovering from depression, I had absolutely no desire to push myself to do anything difficult. This was completely understandable.
I was living the greatest challenge of my life! Every moment was a test of my mental fortitude and endurance–I knew I couldn’t add anything difficult to that or else I would break completely.
My favorite answer became, “I can’t.” “I can’t participate in that right now.” “I can’t help with that right now.” “I can’t do that much at this time.” “I’m not up for that challenge right now.” And I wasn’t exaggerating or just “not trying”–this was me, doing the best I could and my best was often, “I can’t–I’ve got my plate already nice and full.”
But as depression continued to dissipate over the long run, I started to feel like I really wanted to do more. But I had been telling myself and everyone else, “I can’t” for so long, that it became a trained, habitual response at this point, rather than a reflection of reality. I wanted to try but I kept telling myself, “I can’t.” And it was not helping my depression, in fact, it was keeping me down.
Finally, several months ago, I started thinking how nice it might be to join a gym–not so I could really push myself, but just so that I could get out of the house and do something just for me. I spoke to a friend about it and chewed on the idea for several months. Then, just a couple months ago, my sister in law started talking about joining a gym and ended up persuading me to join with her. I did!
It felt like sweet victory to be able to tell myself, “I can” after so long of telling myself the opposite.
I have been to the gym almost ever day for the last month or so. And let me tell you, this has become the highlight of my day! I do the elliptical machine while I watch HGTV and listen to my favorite tunes– and found that this is way funner than I imagined it would be. It has changed my “I can’t” into “I can do this!! I can do hard things again!”
I am not exaggerating when I tell you how happy this makes me. It helps me see how far I have come. It helps me see that I have more power over my situation than I sometimes realize.
Sometimes we need a little push, either from ourselves or someone we love to jump that hurtle and propel us forward. I’m grateful for my sister in law for helping me do this.
From traumatized, to trying again. That is sweet victory!!
How have you overcome your own self-defeating habits? Do you have someone in your life that helps you when you need a push?