Radio silence for a while as I’ve been grappling with relapse. It always comes as a shock to me. Months and months of ordinary living and then suddenly__ But as I seem to be pulling out, it’s worth making a few observations.
1. Denial. People with depression often kid themselves in between bouts that it’s over. I certainly did. I’ve had nothing this acute since 2010. But the longer you go without suffering, the more you slip back into bad old habits. And that will make relapse more likely. It’s hard to stick to the rules when the memory of depression is fading and you convince yourself that maybe it wasn’t so bad after all, and that perhaps it’s truly all over. It never is
2. Acceptance. So what is to be done? The initial temptation is to wail. Oh fxxk, it’s back, I’ll never be properly well, I’ll keep relapsing until everyone – work, family, friends – are so exasperated with me that I’ll start losing the things I care about most. And that makes you feel even worse. So there’s no point. No point in saying “why me Lord?” No point in raging or mooning or any form of reaction other than pure acceptance. It’s here, I can’t change what has happened, but I can change my reaction to it. This is what I am. And a few weeks of gloom amid months of joy can’t be all bad.
3. Meditation. For me, hand in glove with acceptance is meditation. Sit. Observe. Take your mind off your mind and instead notice the little things that make life possible. Breathing. Sounds. Watch the thoughts, the evil thoughts, as they come and go; try not to buy into them but see them as agitprop, cinema, footage from a projector that is overheating. Unbelievable.
4. Compassion. Congratulate yourself for being who you are. These spells enable great self-knowledge. A chance to get to understand who you are and what you’re for. That’s a great opportunity. Remember there is upside here too: minds that wig out like this are often capable of great insight during good spells. It also prepares you well to have compassion for others. We all suffer in our own ways. It is only through suffering that we truly understand the human condition, the pains and pitfalls of being alive. Rejoice.