What I Know About Depression

I don't know much about the underlining causes or triggers of depression — the science. I do know how it's effected me, how it's effected friends, and how it's effected recently named and the nameless strangers that face it's challenges daily.

I know it is darkness. I know it is isolation and disconnection. I know it is standing in a fog while it thickens and closes in around you. I've felt the anxiety building that eventually shuts down the mind. I've been immobilized and allowed despair to envelope hope.

I know it's a silent killer. I know many more suffer silently than have spoken out. I know as a society we've yet to fully accept it. This is understandable, we can see broken bones, we can see cancer, there are no definitive tests for depression & anxiety, they are subjective and invisible to those looking in from the outside. Let me assure any doubters, I know it's real. If you don't know it's real, you know someone who knows.

I know it's an illness of the mind, an injury in my view. As an endurance athlete, my experience with depression is similar to my experiences with physical injury. You work something too hard, too long, in the wrong environment, with improper form, and it's going to break down. It's going to fail you. At which time you need to recover and take time off. This is an accepted practice in athletic pursuits, rest and recover. Yet, for the mind we still hold fast the concept of mind over matter. I can 'think' and 'believe' my way through it. Yes, often you can, often it does work. However, some of us can't, some are more susceptible to physical injury, some of us are more susceptible to mental injury. What we can do, what I needed to do, was take time to heal. I needed to allow my mind to heal, as I would allow my body to heal. The hardest part of doing so is releasing the expectations that hover around us implying we must keep moving, keep taking action, keep a stiff upper lip, just deal and move on.

I know not enough is known about depression, it's causes, it's treatments. I know it's becoming more prevalent. I know if we don't pause for a moment and look at the path we're on and how we got here it may gain too much momentum to reverse.

I know I'm feeling good today. I know that I've come out of the deep darkness I've felt. I know I have a respect for that darkness, the fog, and I accept that it's there. I know denial allows it to grow, while accepting and dealing with it head on keeps it a bit more under my control. I know that I'm not 'cured'. I don't think there is such a thing with depression. I believe it cycles and I can expect it to come back, maybe not with as much intensity, but it's a part of me.

I know what I can do is take care of myself mentally, physically, spiritually, and continually move toward vitality and well-being. I know staying on top of these things keep me above the fog. I know doing this means respecting myself, respecting how I work, respecting my introversion, respecting my values, and living my life.

I know I must exercise my body, to move with nature. I know I must exorcise my mind, to write and create. I know I must live a simple life, to limit choice, to limit the unnecessary things that create anxiety.

With that I'm off for a morning run through the mist to rise above the fog.

— Paul