Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t get out of bed? Not because you were tired or lazy, but because you had absolutely no desire or energy to get up. All you wanted was to lay under the covers and disappear.
When you feel this way, two possibilities come to mind: (1) you have the flu, or (2) you’re depressed—you’re experiencing a visitation from what the brilliant poet Jane Kenyon calls her “Unholy Ghost.” She writes this startling poem in which “you” refers to her “unholy ghost”…
When I was born, you waited behind a pile of linen in the nursery, and when we were alone, you lay down on top of me, pressing the bile of desolation into every pore.
And from that day on…you made me sad.
Another great author, William Styron, says in Darkness Visible of an oncoming depression, “… I could feel the winds beating from the wings of madness.” (One of my all-time favorite quotes.)
My First Signs of Depression
I was forty years old when my adoptive mother died, and at that point the smoldering embers of a tragic childhood heated into the raging fires of depression. I was dumbstruck. It hit me hard. I actually thought I had a blood disease, so I went to my MD. After a series of tests he said, “Charlie. You’re depressed.” I was shocked! It had been there all my life but just not so pronounced.
I was literally disabled for about 3 months until I began therapy with both a psychologist, to help me make sense of my life story, and a psychiatrist to get me the correct medication.
After years of help, I can now actually feel when a depression is coming and I can prepare for battle. I refuse to let it beat me. I am now functional, creative, a giver, and a family man. It’s a matter of the right doctors, the right meds and the right attitude.
Depressives Can Be Highly Functional
It’s interesting to discover some of the most influential people in the history of the world suffered from depression. The first person who comes to mind is Abraham Lincoln. A book titled, Lincoln’s Melancholy, describes in detail a family history of suicide and drug abuse (laudanum).
Can You Relate?
My guess is a bunch of you reading this are saying “Huh, what the hell’s he talking about? While others are finding great comfort in the fact that they are not alone. There are a lot of depressives around us, and unfortunately, our tribe is growing with this fast-moving society.
A List of Ideas to Help You and Others You Know
First of all, here are some facts:
- Depression can feel disabling.
- Depression is definitely treatable.
- Depression is normal—you aren’t weird—well, maybe you are but not because of depression.
Medical suggestions that have worked for me:
- Admit that you are cursed by the Unholy Ghost, and he’s here to stay.
- Get professional help. Sometimes therapy is all you need. Others of us require meds—serotonins and dopamine, and who knows what else. NOTE: do your research and find a good professional. There are a whole lot of incompetent therapists out there. Be sure to get recommendations from people you trust.
Will-power suggestions that have worked for me:
- FORCE YOURSELF to do something, anything out of bed.
- Make your bed.
- Do at least one chore.
- Serve somebody else.
- Try something brand new or unique or something you love to do.
Final word: the key out of depression is to FORCE YOURSELF out of it. Don’t allow the Unholy Ghost to win. I know, I know. I’m one of you, remember? But it never fails. When I force myself to do something productive, I find myself getting into the project and the depression actually begins to dissipate.
Finally, we’re Difference Makers. Let’s keep it that way. We may be crazy but so are a lot of other people. Our own depression helps us relate.
Beat the Unholy Ghost
Photo courtesy of franckreporter at istockphoto