Dealing with Glooming

The other day, I posted about trying to personalise my depression by giving it a name and imagining what it was like. I decided that my depression was a heavy fog-creature called Glooming.

It amazes me how much this simple act helped. Instead of saying to myself, “I am depressed”, or even, “I feel depressed today”, I said, “Glooming has come to visit.” This helped me detach the depression from myself. It gave me the message that this was a temporary state of affairs, something that would not last forever. A visit is a stay of finite duration, whereas depression often feels like a permanent state – or there is the fear that it will last forever.

My next approach was to try and persuade Glooming to make his visit as short as possible. I thought of him as an unwelcome guest, and I asked myself, “What would Glooming hate for me to do right now?”

At this point, it was 11:45 am, and I was still in bed. So my first thought was, “Glooming would hate for me to sit up, read my Bible and pray.” This is part of my morning routine, but when I am depressed I struggle to open up the book. But I didn’t want Glooming to feel at home, so I went ahead and read.

I’m not going to say it was the most wonderful time of Bible reading and prayer I’ve ever had. In fact, it was a real struggle. But I did it.

“Ok, what would Glooming hate for me to do next?”

“Glooming would hate for me to take a shower…”

And so I went on. I showered, got dressed, and then went downstairs to sit with my family and eventually eat a small lunch.

By this point, Glooming had retreated a fair way. He had wanted me to lie in bed all day, wrapped up in misery, not washing, eating or doing anything to take care of myself.

It wasn’t that I wanted to do those things. I wanted to stay in bed too. It would have been the easier option, and in the past it is one I have often taken.

But that morning was different. I wasn’t making myself do these things because I should do, or even because they would make me feel better.

No, I was doing them to make Glooming feel uncomfortable so he would go away.

In the afternoon, I decided that Glooming would hate it if I gave myself a treat and watched a cookery programme. I decided he wouldn’t want me to be doing something that might give me pleasure… or at least distract me from his presence. And I was right. He retreated further.

Then in the evening, I decided to draw Glooming. He was much, much further away than he had been in the morning… and I wanted to keep things that way. And they say you need to know your enemy… so I drew Glooming, to remind me what he is like.

And to remind me what to do the next time he tries to come and stay.

Glooming and Me

Recently, I have been attending a course on building self-esteem. One of the techniques they have introduced us to is personification – to characterise and personalise our issues.

This morning, I woke up weighed down with the fog of depression. I spent the morning curled up in bed, hiding from the world.

Then I remembered this technique, and I decided to try and personify my depression.

What is his name? (I don’t know my, but my depression is definitely a ‘he’.)

Somehow, I didn’t want to give my depression a human name…

Then a line from Romeo and Juliet came to mind:

“A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head:
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon’d, and some punished:
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

That phrase, “a glooming peace”, defines depression for me. It conveys a heaviness, a peace that is not restful or pleasant, but deadening and oppressive.

So I decided to call my depression “Glooming”.

What, I asked myself, is Glooming like?

Glooming is not human. Glooming is not an animal. Glooming is not really a recognisable being.

Glooming is a fog-creature. A thick, heavy fog-creature, with the insubstantial and creeping nature of fog, combined with the heaviness of a very wet, cold blanket. A creature that can at one and the same time penetrate every nook and cranny of your being, and weigh you down and submerge you. A creature with no legs, that hovers as it moves, but with many, many arms, reaching out for me, to pull me back down into his dark embrace.

That is Glooming. That is my depression. And strangely, having named him, I felt as if I had a slight measure of control over him.

But knowing and naming my depression is only part of the battle.

I will try and tell you more tomorrow.