These were some of the first words to enter my mind as I found myself dragging my body through, what felt like a deepening swamp of mud. My whole physical self gradually came to a standstill. It was like my motor had run out of gas. I was stuck. Swallowed up with inertia. I couldn’t move. I didn’t have the will to move. It seemed that the message sent from my brain “let’s get moving” never reached my feet. Somewhere, somehow, the line was down. The power had been turned off.
What happened? Well, in short, I would say that my brain was telling my body that it was no longer able to motivate any sort of activity throughout the system. No alien force had reduced my efforts to rubble. No power outside of me turned off the juice. I did it myself. Yep, you got it right. I pulled the lever and it was dark. I was alone.
Then the following thought came to me that something serious was taking place in my body. But what? It all happened so gradually. Almost imperceptible. I wasn’t aware of any physical changes except that all of a sudden I couldn’t get out of bed and I felt miserable inside. Hollow. Empty. Jittery. The dashboard of my life showed an empty gas tank. I was out of energy. Now, what do I do? And here is what I did.
Every morning I forced myself to get out of bed, put on my gym shoes, force myself into the night air and start walking. I did this same routine for two weeks. Five miles at a time.
All I knew was that I had to move my body–and maybe I thought, this awfulness inside of me would disappear. All the while I kept my job–just doing that familiar chore gave me a reason to get up. I had to eat. I had to get past whatever was chewing up my will to do just about anything. I would come home from work and go to bed. That was 5PM in the evening. And like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the mountain, I would do this routine all over the next day.
And so to cut to the chase,I discovered a word that had previous to this life changing moment, meant nothing to me. I discovered that I was depressed. I was more than just feeling sad. I was flattened. It was amazing to me what a mind, filled with fear and shame could do to the body, and I was totally unprepared for its unrelenting assault. All motivation to do anything was gone. My will power was not a match for the force that had me paralyzed. But the one thing that I figured out for myself that I thought might free me, was to at least get out of bed and force myself to move. And yes, that did get me to a point that began my recovery. It made it possible to at least move my body and spark up the neurons in my brain to keep me walking from the minimal power of a single spark plug. All of this is to say that just like the alcoholic who decides, just for one day at a time,.to keep from drink, at the same time starting a recovery program of the 12 Steps and with the support of a fellowship (mutual aid) group, I began to look at my life by taking an inventory of my past life. I wondered if the way I thought about myself, others and my world had anything to do with my depression. Was it my continued negative thinking about the way my life had run out of steam and burnt out the cells of my brain? Had the recent and continued rumination about my own shame and guilt about the way I felt I had lived my life brought me to this point. Or was it those childhood memories where others had told me I was worthless and that I would never amount to much? Or was it the fact that now in my middle age, present situations in my life wore me down by my thinking, producing those negative feelings which constantly churned in my brain. I knew that thoughts produce feelings, feelings produce moods and moods produce behavior. So was it possible that instead of facing my fears, I ran away, and now it was time to do something about it. And so these thoughts that takes me back to the beginning of my recovery. I began to get out of bed and do something—in time my mind followed. In time and with the “miracle” of the group” and the 12 Step Depressed Anonymous recovery program, as I call it, I am free of depression.
Read about it.
Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville.
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