Tolerating Depression

My husband gets migraines. They can be debilitating. I’ve once found him rocking in a fetal position in excruciating pain. I would describe him as a strong guy — and seeing him knocked out by one was nothing less than alarming.

His migraines are so common now that he can now sense an impending one and takes precautionary steps, like drinking water, taking medication, and retreating to a quiet space.

Simple steps to head off the pain.

I wouldn’t describe my husband as weak-minded for getting migraines. Or judge him for wanting to retreat to a quiet space in the house. Quite the opposite. I respect him for taking action. I offer to help anyway I can because I love him and don’t like seeing him in pain.

We don’t know why he gets migraines. He’ll probably have them his whole life. But understanding the illness, the triggers and having steps to head off the pain is a means to living life to the fullest amid impending pain.

If you suffer from depression, you’ve likely lived with it your whole life. There is myriad of medication and therapy that assist you from falling into a dark episode. But, understanding the illness, the triggers and having steps to head off an episode can make a world of difference.

The difference between migraines and depression is that we treat people with migraines with compassion. I have never suffered a migraine to that extent. But even so, I can still offer empathy and compassion. People who haven’t suffered from depression have a real tough time understanding it. People can relate to pain – There’s lots of pain simmering beneath the surface for plenty of folks. But depression can sometimes be perceived as self-inflicted pain. By prescribing depression as a personality flaw, one will hide the illness from themselves and loved ones out of pure shame. Negative thoughts are a huge part of depression and unfortunately it takes a wake-up call like a failed suicide attempt for one to realize there has to be better way to live.

Learning how to stop the loop of negative thoughts and reframing them to realistic, positive ones is ultimately the goal. But that is much easier said than done. Because the illness is in the mind. It is the depressive thoughts – extreme and inescapable – that completely mutilate normal thought processes. When it comes to recovering from depression, one cannot simply snap out of it.  One has to figure out the best combination of therapies, medication, and methods.

Early in our relationship, my husband (or boyfriend at the time) would bug me about wanting to go the gym. I would tell him: Do you want Crazy to come out? No? Then leave me alone. I wouldn’t advise someone to trivialize the situation and call themselves crazy,  but I was essentially paraphrasing: Hey, going to the gym, apart from keeping me healthy and fit, actually seems to keep a depressive episode away. It works for me, and I don’t know why. I don’t want you to give me a hard time about it or judge me. Just love me. 

I can’t say whether exercise helps more than medication or therapy, or if its the combination of it all. But I understand the illness, know the triggers and the dose of treatment that halts a descent into darkness. And it works.

The human state is not pure utter joy, but it is also not pure utter misery. One can tolerate depression by acknowledging it, accepting it judge-free, treating it with a system that works for you. By building a means to living life to the fullest amid impending pain. Because a better way does indeed exist.

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4 thoughts on “Tolerating Depression

  1. Great story … thanks for sharing and I agree with how you handle both depression and the migraines … it really is knowing ‘self’ and listening to those internal signs. I love to run and when I run I can’t imagine how I can feel down some days … tis what it is :o)

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