One of the great lessons of life, at least for myself, was the fact that the more I got up out of bed, put on my walking shoes. ignored the mental dialogue of how it was impossible to move, that I began to move physically through a fog that seemed impenetrable. It only seemed impenetrable as long as I stayed in the comfortable cocoon of my bed. Once I forced myself out of bed, got walking, it was five or ten minutes later that my mind message center informed my body, “wow, so glad I am doing this.” Surprise? Initially, yes, I was surprised. I wondered why was it so hard to do this simple thing like getting up and taking a walk. Well, because once I had slid, spiraled down into the dark abyss of my melancholia, I found that my will power no longer had the authority, force to make my body do what I wanted it to do. I was in a sense immobilized totally by the continued rumination of my mind that continued to produce powerful feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. I felt there was no escape from my thoughts of futility no matter what avenues of escape my mind offered to me.
Then, I had a choice. Fight or flight. Face my present deteriorating situation or just continue to pull the sheet over my head and continue to run from what was chasing me. The “what” of what was chasing me was guilt, shame, and fear. The fear of “what if” this were to happen or “what if” that were to happen. I then made a decision a night before I went to bed. That decision was to fight whatever it was that had me by the throat. I was scared. I chose to act in my own behalf and do something physical–anything to get my body moving. To do anything to get myself to roll out of bed. And then I discovered an important truth: Motivation follows action. Move the body and the mind will follow.
Here is a portion of my testimony in Believing is seeing: 15 ways to leave the prison of depression. (2015). DAP. Louisville.
“When I was going through my depression I forced myself every morning to go to a shopping mall and walk miles every morning. The jittery feeling was still there, but I kept at it and gradually I began to feel less jittery and less hopeless about my life ever being like it was. Another benefit – a big one- is that I didn’t lose my job.
The personal belief of mine that MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION is especially designed for those persons who are depressed and who feel they don’t have any mastery over their lives. They also have no interest in former pleasant activities.
It is only when we get physically active and move out of our sad ruminations, which like a closed loop, keep circling painfully through our minds. The thoughts cause us to spiral down and continue our lifeless plummeting out of control into the frozen immobility which engulfs us….and so I learned the important lesson: Move the body and the mind will follow.” Page 35. Believing is Seeing (2015).