Yesterday I returned from a lengthy hiatus with a post coming out of the mental health closet. What mental health closet? My (hidden) lifelong struggle with depression. In that return post I referred to a “confluence of events,” which brought on terrible cycles of depression.
A Confluence of Events
Depression is a miserable thing. I’m sure that seems obvious, after all, we’re all sad or down, from time to time. The trouble is that depression has a similar relationship to feeling the blues, as migraines do to headaches. That is to say, while everyone gets a headache now and again, not everyone gets migraines.
Further, while a migraine is (among other things) head pain, it is a completely different thing from a headache, a difference both in degree, and in kind.
Likewise, while depression is feeling emotionally down, it is a completely different thing from feeling the blues, a difference in both degree, and in kind.
Somewhere along the way I wrote (but don’t think I ever published) a migraine sufferer’s survival guide. Two of the key things in that survival guide are:
- Know and understand that migraines and headaches are completely different things.
- Know and understand your migraine triggers.
It is very interesting to me that you can rewrite those steps, substituting “depression” for “migraines” and “sadness” for “headaches.” Don’t believe me? Let’s try it.
Two of the key things I would publish in a depression sufferer’s survival guide are:
- Know and understand that depression and sadness are completely different things.
- Know and understand your depression triggers.
At some point in the none too distant future I will write more on depression triggers. For now, I’ll simply say that the last 16 months, as ol’ Cap’n COVID took over, a terrible confluence of events occurred as businesses, schools and gyms were all closed.
- forced into isolation, a major contributor to mental health issues.
- denied the exercise, competition and camaraderie of our gyms, arenas, even our outdoor fields
- pushed into an abnormal routine, each day indistinguishable from the previous, and the next
Our children were
- taken from a proper learning environment
- forced to sit, alone at home, in front of a computer
- isolated from their peers, their friends, their extended families, basically everything that was their norm.
We got fat and out of shape. Our children lost almost 2 years of education. Many children not only lost 2 years of development, but actually regressed (effectively growing younger).
Tucked away inside all of this (by no means a complete) list of the immediate effects of the world going mad, are a bunch of my depression triggers.
End result, between June last year and now, I’ve had 4 major waves of depression break over me, each successively worse. Each successively hard to fight. Each pulling me down a little further. Each letting go a little more reluctantly.
Until I discovered something, an amazing something that helped me turn the tide. Something that I try to use, every single day, to keep the monster at bay.
As a final note, I shamelessly stole “Cap’n COVID” from the incomparable Ben Settle, whom I read every day, and you should, too.