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.