Wagging the Black Dog

For more tips and info about meditation, check out: Train your mind, ride your life

Did you know shaking your body quickly and intensely – like a dog shakes – is a quick way to reset your system and lessen anxiety? I learned it from one of my doctors, and it actually works really well. I just get so anxious I forget how to deal with anxiety, so today, I will write out some reminders for myself, and maybe you’ll find some helpful tidbits too…

One of my favorite quotes, “If you are depressed, you are in the past and if you are anxious, you are in the future” So really, it’s two sides of the same crappy brain problem pole.

  • Anxiety creates depression. Depression creates anxiety
  • See featured image; disciplining the mind is really how to work with depression, anxiety, and life
  • Your words are powerful. Watch them
  • Identify the depression, don’t identify with the depression. “I am experiencing depression”
  • Try to think of depression similar to a cold. It’s a cold of the brain
    • What works best with a cold – forcing through, going to work sick, pretending it’s not there, etm., or resting, chicken soup, and tea?
    • The hardest part is realizing it’s depression in the first place because the label alone creates all kinds of shitty context. Ditch the context, and think of a cold.
    • You’re not weak and worthless if you catch a cold, but depression will convince anyone that it’s their fault they are having a problem in the first place.
    • There’s no right or wrong time for it, just like a cold. It just happens sometimes
    • Just like a cold makes you want to sleep, depression makes you want to hide, sleep, not exist, run away, not be yourself
    • Depression is no time for big picture planning. It is time to slow down, take care of yourself, and rest – like a cold.
  • Good times create great soil for depression, ironically
    • How low you sink is a reflection of how high you soar
  • Doing too much, going past your boundaries, etc. all create space for depression.
    • Too much/too little of anything can create great situations for depression – too much time on screens, too little social interaction, too little exercise, too much crappy food/alcohol/weed…
    • Imbalances in anything create issues
    • It’s hard to be balanced right now, so it’s understandable to experience anxiety, depression, or both
  • Depression can manifest as lethargy, pain, headaches, irritability, loss of interest in anything – stuff you enjoy, stuff you gotta get done, and everything becomes harder than it was before. Often, we blame ourselves, but it’s not a conscious decision to desperately want to do anything but what you have to do.
    • It’s not just sadness. Or, if anything, of course, there’s sadness because the wonderful buffet that is a life lost all its flavor, is too salty maybe, or just tastes wrong
  • Apathy might be a better word to describe depression over sadness. I don’t often hear that people feel sad, I hear they don’t care
    • Regardless, how can anyone feel okay if everything feels wrong, oftentimes we don’t articulate that it is depression
    • There’s an overwhelming sense of “fuck me, I can’t care”
  • Instead of using pretty names, excuses, justifications, or blame, just call it depression.
    • It happens to everyone, clinical depression is a degree of depression that impacts your life. Bad days can become bad weeks, months, or years.
    • Christ, psychosis can occur if depression goes untreated long enough
  • Depression, anxiety, and ADHD all go hand in hand too
    • It’s more stimulating to be upset than content
    • If that’s not the definition of Facebook, I don’t know what is
  • There’s no blame for depression any more than you can blame a rainy day
  • The most important step anyone can take to begin digging out of the hole is to stop blaming, stop analyzing, and stop living in the past
    • Even if you’ve done everything wrong, living on Twinkies and bud light for a month, it’s now that change can start, and the more focus there is on now, the easier it is to start seeing around the clouds of depression
    • The closer to now you can train your brain to stay – like a dog on a leash – the easier it will be to see the baby steps you can take
    • Brushing your teeth, eating a salad, going for a walk, writing something, whatever

It is not easy to swim in a cement bathing suit. It is not easy to dig out of a hole that you are burying yourself alive with. It is easy to fall into the blame trap, but the key to depression is to remember that you are not the depression. You are zoomed into a bad spot of a big picture. Identify these feelings as depression, become an observer of yourself, and understand that your thoughts don’t have to define you. The brain is lying as much as a body could be sneezing. It’s an illness, it will pass, and you can help it pass.

  • Healing is a process of slowly coming back to life, and bit by bit, reclaiming power by focusing on what you can do, what you have done, and letting what you cannot and have not to fall away
  • It’s changing the focus from what’s wrong to what’s right, and it all starts with reminding yourself that you’re not wrong in the first place
  • You don’t feel well, and that’s okay. It’s also natural and normal. Just like we have wake and sleep, we have ups and downs
  • Sometimes, those can be too dramatic and we need help, but it is normal to experience depression to a certain degree
    • Help is needed when it is to the degree that it is negatively impacting your life – just like anything.
    • It can be a hibernation, and for creative types, it’s often fodder for a lot of expressions. It’s not like all poetry is love songs or all music is happy.
    • Those who can get into the depths of the yuck can come back with some gems.
    • My best writing comes out of depression
    • That’s not YAY depression, but it is…finding the merit or the silver lining in the suffering.
  • Like life, finding that purpose is what gets you to the next day. Oftentimes, the realization of “I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, and I just need a break…” is the difference between struggling and moving on.

This is, of course, based on my experience and what I’ve learned as I’ve worked through my brain. I’ve found that I can articulate what happens with depression really well, and when I’m not in the thick of it, I can often help other people understand their own experiences better. There is a power to being able to put words to feelings, and I’ve learned that not everyone is a walking dictionary. Maybe today I was yours, and if I was, I’m sorry you resonate, but I’m glad you could too.

This is a post I wrote a few years ago. I may sit down and tweak it more, but I thought reposting it was a good reminder for myself, and maybe someone else. As always, thank you for taking the time to read what my itchy butt has to say, have an awesome day and make an even better tomorrow. I’ll see you then.

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