Of course I want to be well. But why is that just when I was starting to make real progress I ended up with depression? If I’m brutally honest, I’m frightened of being well. For about 30 years I’ve been anxious (all my teenage and adult life) and I’ve had a few bouts of depression of various degrees. I also don’t really have a picture of what it would like to be well, so I can’t work out how to get there.
It reminds me of when I was a dancer and was trying to learn to do a grand jete en tournant. Big leap turning round and ending with leg up, like so…[by marijntje19, YouTube]
I was making a hash of all attempts and then told my teacher that I did not have a picture of what I was trying to do. She then gave me two pictures of the first and second part of the movement and I could then start to learn (though I have to say I was never quite as good as the dancer above!)
This balletic metaphor also applies to beating anxiety and depression. How can you be well if you don’t know what well is? And even if a bit of you does know how to be well wouldn’t it be scary to leave the familiar cosy ways of being, even if they are difficult sometimes? I recently read a book quote on the Depression Alliance website which applies as well to anxiety as it does depression:
“I’m convinced that the major reason why people with depression stay depressed despite therapy, medication and support from loved ones is that we are simply unable to imagine an alternative. We know how to do depression….Depression becomes for us a set of habits, behaviours, thought processes, assumptions and feelings that seem very much like our core self; you can’t give them up without something to replace them..’
Undoing Depression, Richard O’Connor PhD, Souvenir Press
The above quote is about depression, but equally applies to anxiety. How easy it is to underestimate the size of change. It is sometimes said (glibly)
‘One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.’ Andre Gide (1869 – 1951)
It’s so easy to say, but actually loosing sight of all that is familiar is rather more difficult to do. Which is why I have come to the conclusion that change for me needs time and gentleness. Time to learn new ways of being to try things out and to make mistakes but learn that mistakes aren’t terminal. It is probably a rather long time since watching Bambi, (which belongs to Disney) but here is a clip from YouTube which might appeal to the more playful bit of our natures.
I wonder if you actually allowed yourself four whole minutes off worrying to watch it? Do we want to be well? Hell yes, but gradually.