How many times can I break till I shatter?/Over the line can’t define what I’m after…O.A.R.’s lyrics in the song Shattered explore the wonders of human nature in all its stubbornness, indecisiveness, as well as resilience. Our nature is born “all id” and only later does the ego and superego begin to develop as we mature, meaning the search for pleasure and self-satisfaction is innate and will not be hindered in many cases, despite the obstacles, circumstances and impending consequences. I often wonder what affects how the portions of the psyche are distributed in each person; what makes one person bolder than another or allows another individual to always let their conscious be their guide, instead of their heart? Why are some people consistently overwhelmed by mental and physical pain, while others are able to move through life with only minor setbacks? What forces are at work within each of us that determine our immediate or long-term directions or futures?
I remember the cartoons that featured a main character, like the cat from Tom and Jerry, wrestling with a particular dilemma and having to choose between the advice from the little angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. The devil was always so excited and rash, while the angel appeared more calm and methodical. And anyone familiar with the cartoon series knows that Tom typically, if not always, sided with his devilish nature. Tom’s id or his primal side controlled his entire being; after all, he is an animal. But what about humans; how do we balance both our primal and conscientious natures? How do we maintain a balance between the id, ego and superego? And how are those suffering from mental illness most affected when the primal or id is denied pleasure and pain is the result? In my own experiences, I have not been able to always immediately recover from these setbacks and find myself in one of those prolonged spells of sadness or deep funks that I mentioned in a past post. I find myself absolutely immobile, unable to physically move or rationalize my feelings. I would scream, but no sound would be heard. My pain takes the wind out of me. There is something so terrifying and heartbreaking in silent agony. The experience is always new, no matter how many times you have confronted it. And it is harder and harder to control the mental urge or wish to implode. The idea of bursting this sore bubble within is a constant in these moments. This is the plain, unadorned face of my depression, no holds barred. So how many times can we break until we shatter? I wish I had the answer.
The only offering I do have is my definition of this struggle in my own words and my efforts to help myself and others work through those debilitating moments, no matter how often or rare. Distractions are always a primary suggestion for moving past the difficult times, but this is easier said than done as I shared with another blogger suffering from BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). So what do you do? Personally, I don’t believe you should always try to shrug off the feelings and think of rainbows and other happy thoughts. Not only is this completely impossible for me, but in my opinion, it is not a proper solution or a progressive tactic. Again, I am only speaking from personal experiences; I have tried distractions, i.e. watching television, eating, listening to music, shopping, etc. Yet, I am ignoring the primary issue in these cases and only weakening myself for further attacks that could be even more severe. So why not meet the issue head on? Presently, I use the following personal strategies to mentally work through my depressive episodes, instead of succumbing to them completely and later ignoring the occurrences.
Positive Combat Strategies
- Vocalize your feelings to someone you trust. Do not be ashamed to share a depressive episode and better understand it by talking it out with another. Do not let the fear of rejection force you to keep your feelings bottled; they will eventually implode.
- Pray or meditate (reflect) on the episode immediately. Call on a higher power to help you work through an immediate experience and strengthen you for the next.
- Look beyond the immediate into the future. If you suffer from mental illness, you are already aware that the sadness will not last forever. Keep repeating this to yourself. This is not ignoring the situation, but working to gain a better awareness of how the illness operates and how to increase your control or personal empowerment during an episode.
- Write, write, write. Express your thoughts/experiences in writing. Words are powerful. Write a letter to yourself or another; blog about your experiences; compose poetry; etc. Even something as simple as keeping a private journal/diary of each depressive episode can help you navigate more easily through future occurrences or possibly prevent them. And remember, READ what you’ve written and REFLECT. It is one of the primary keys to understanding.
- Face yourself. Confront your feelings and person directly. Take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Do not hide from yourself or the pain. Sleep is not an option, even though the urge to sleep away our negative feelings is primal, which is why we cry ourselves to sleep as children and adults as well. It is painful to see another in pain and not want to help, so look in the mirror and begin helping yourself cope.
Remember, healing begins with the self. I hope that someone reading this tries at least one, if not all, of these strategies in future. And if it doesn’t the work the first time, try again. Your life is worth it! As I said before, I welcome comments. If you know of any other combative or coping strategies, please share them with me and my readers. Don’t be afraid to be a voice; use your words and share your experiences. Save a life before it shatters.