Thursday, March 1, 2012

Treating Mild Depression (Live, Run, Write)

I'm not the only one who has trouble getting out for a run, am I. It has been over a week since I last ran. I'm in a slump.There is nothing physically wrong that would keep me from running. Everything feels fine. If I wasn't about to start work, I could go outside now and run. I'm physically fit, though a bit soft and tubby from not running, but I'm still not out there.

The problems are all in my mind.

I used to think this meant I was weak and maybe it is a sign of weakness, but not in some shameful way. I'm feeling weak of ambition. Something is up with me, something that keeps me from doing things that would make me feel better. I haven't been writing or reading as much, I'm eating more than I need, I'm not sleeping well, and I'm wanting to buy things. All of these are symptoms.

About now I imagine people advising me to take an anti-depressant. You're depressed! Maybe I am, but my therapist said something interesting this week.

She said, "you have emotional cycles."

"Like a menstrual cycle?" I asked, smiling.

"Yeah," she said. "And right now, you're pre-menstrual."

"Great!" I shook my head.

She smiled. "It's just that you're at the bottom of a cycle."

"Can I get a magic pill to take this feeling away?"

"You could," she said.

"But?"

"But then you wouldn't experience the fullness of life."

I said, "I could do without experiencing some of this fullness."

She smiled again. "Awareness includes this stuff too."

I think about that idea of experiencing the fullness of this life. We are too eager to believe that we should always be up and happy. I'm not running right now because I'm down in a gumption trap (with apologies to Robert Pirsig). I know that running would help, but the problem I'm trying to solve keeps me from running.

All it will take is one moment of decision and a step out the door. I might go for a mile or eight. Whatever the case, at some point I will break the cycle.

Running is usually my magic pill to take the bad feelings away. I just haven't figured out how to get the cap off the medicine bottle. I expect I will get to the point where opening it will be easier. I suspect that day will come soon.

Until then, I'm experiencing this end of the fullness of life and I don't like it much. I get what my therapist is saying, that experiencing this is, over the long haul, good and will help me learn how to live, but I'm ready to be done with this lesson.

Hmmm. Here's something I just thought of: I know that running will cure this feeling. Years ago I would have doubted it or, at best, suspected that it might be true. Now, I'm sure. I have enough experience to know that I don't have to climb out of a hole so much as just run and feel the hole disappear. The hole becomes flat ground, then the side of a hill, and soon I've climbed to somewhere new. I look out and the world is beautiful.

I've been in therapy now for three or four years. I've been running regularly for five or six. It's a long-term care strategy that I've been working on and I can see that it is starting to have effect. Another component of the treatment involves writing every day and working life out on the page and screen. I don't need no stinking magic pills. Live on. Run on. Write on.