Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Habits of Depression

Suffering from depression and anxiety for a large chunk of my life means that I have some very well-worn Mind Paths that my feet are quite comfortable walking. Really, these paths were custom made for my feet; they fit just right.

Overcoming depression and anxiety is about overcoming the habit of walking on those paths when even just a wee bit of a bad mood strikes.

As soon as my brain detects what is a normal dip in mood for most people, it switches on some connections that have been strengthened over time. It lights the way to those old Mind Paths.

It is cutting these connections -- obliterating them -- and allowing those Paths to become overgrown that is this life's work for me.

I have fought long and hard and I have, for the most part, defeated this ugly, smelly, gargantuan Monster who wants nothing more than to eat me and spit me out and start all over again.

Finding my essence as a dancer and living from that essence has given me the Winged Feet I needed to escape that Monster's clutches and fly free, off the path.

But alas, that Old Path still exists. I have not flown free long enough yet for my body and mind to completely forget where they are located.

Yesterday morning, I awoke from a night of bad dreams. Not the sort of nightmares that I used to have but dreams filled with enough fear and anxiety to leave a taste in my mouth even after a good tooth brushing.

I can't link you to any particular study but there is a preponderance of evidence that bad dreams create a bad day. Our brains aren't that great at differentiating between real life and our imaginations so our bodies end up thinking that, yes, we were running from bad guys and yes, we were hiding in dark and scary places.

I awoke with this mood festering in my body. The sky was gray and flat. I scowled at the weather.

The mood grew.

I tried to do some exercise but the sort that is purely "exercise" and that bores me.

The mood grew.

Finally, Marcy sat me down for a good talk, and I realized that my Depression is a habit that my mind has not quite gotten over.

I have to be more vigilant, more aware, more Awake than ever.

My life is finally sparkling and shiny and new; there is no way that I will allow those Monsters to lure me back to those bad habits.

Creating new habits is an important part of getting rid of the old.

Around 3, Marcy and I started working together on my YogaDance homework. I was sweating and dancing and focused. We worked for two and a half hours.

And I was new.

Those Monsters hate happy; they hate fulfilled; they hate Engaged.

Monsters die in the light. And my essence? It just happens to be made of the stuff.

(Photo & Text Copyright: Christine C. Reed,, 2009)


Rachel said...

Hi - I was recommended your blog by Nadine Fawell and then I read this post that could have just been written for me! Depression and anxiety are my monsters too and I my life's work in progress is walking on a different path to them.


Kara aka Mother Henna said...

Oh thank you thank you for this reminder!!! Light light light, calling all Light Beings!! Miracles and wings to you...k-

Linnea said...

... and she writes one for the "Bookmark" folder. Anxiety has been my problem more than depression, but Problem A can lead to its share of pitch-black moods. You're absolutely right about the brain lighting the way to those paths that, while rocky and uncomfortable, are familiar, so we tend to stubbornly stick to them instead of venturing off.

Dance on, my friend.

Linda-Sama said...

christine, I recommend the book Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione.

Sulwyn said...

Are you mind-reading today? That post is so timely! I crashed several months ago after a huge betrayal and have been so focused on working my way out of that that the secondary stuff has moved in easily. I sure hear you about having to focus on the light! Thank you for such a timely post!

Suzie Ridler said...

Yes, both habit and cycle...true. Excellent post.

Jan said...

Yes, you must be mind-reading! I just posted on this at my blog. ( Have just been through a quagmire of my own Mind Path which is anxiety, and bottoming out energetically after a stressful episode of some kind. Like you, I am being very vigilant (or at least trying) to my old patterning. It does take time and practice. And companions! Thank Goddess for Marcy and I thank Her for my husband who turns me in a different direction when I have forgotten my way...

Love to you today. I continue to celebrate your journey, Christine. Amazing!

Jordi said...

Thanks for these wise words.

Terrapin Flyer said...

My wife told me I needed to read this, and she was right. I've dealt with depression for years, but only recently figured out what my problems were and are. I also recently learned our brains and our bodies learn pathways - actually set themselves up chemically, electrically, emotionally to expect and "reward" all that goes into depression. It's a battle to re-learn and re-train ourselves, we're actually fighting our own bodies.

Like you, I now have a wonderful soulmate to help me on my new journey. She picks me up, dusts me off, and shines light onto the new trails. I do the same for her as well. Together we're headed into brighter territory.

For some reason music has always aided me. Now I know why. It's my release, it frees me from the grasp of the demons. One of my favs is Michael Franti. I thought this lyric fitting for my comment to this post, and for the upcoming holiday. From "See You In The Light" - You want to scare away the vampires, you simply guide them into the light.

jodi renee said...

so grateful for this post today...
more light. less monsters.
new path...
new path.
new path.

Rowena said...

I feel ya about the paths of depression. It's so hard to hike your way away from that well worn path onto a healthier and happier path, but you and I both know it is possible.

Lately, I have realized that part of my depression is because of iron deficiency. Taking my vitamins is helping, but not going all the way. We have to take care of ourselves.

Another thing I am experimenting with this year is ALLOWING myself to be sad without guilt or trying to fix it or analyze it or repress it. Just be, in acceptance, with my negative emotions.

I don't do it a lot, because it's hard to just let negative emotions out freely, but every time I've done it, it's as if it just withers. I think it's the light you are talking about. The bad feeling are felt and then they just fade away. And I move on into a better place.

nomad said...

It is good to read that someone else struggles this way. I look out at the normal people around me and am constantly amazed and often shamed by how much they can accomplish. Posts like yours remind me that mental wellness takes a lot of energy, and worth it all.

Expressive Hart said...

Christine, I admire so much your insightful ponderings, and your steadfast desire to soar to new vistas of happiness.

I understand intimately both your passion for dance AND dealings with depression.

Be compassionate with your magnificent self. You are shifting all kinds of emotional set points. It takes a bit of stabilizing at one set point before going on to a better feeling one.

The beauty of your process is that you are establishing new, solid Mind Paths. It is kind of like re-wiring your circuitry.

There will come a point, you'll KNOW it, where you've crystalized such a secure and positive, new Mind Path -- I bet you'll never go back to the depths of despair of those old Mind Paths. I can tell you this has been the case for me.

Even if you feel tinges of the old Mind Path, you won't stay there long. You'll have the mastery to shift to the brighter Path. It will feel so far off from your new Mind Path that you simply can't tolerate it.

I'm so glad you have the love and support of Marcy!

Keep on dancing down the happy, fulfilled and engaged path!

a cat of impossible colour said...

I struggle with anxiety and depression too. You're so right - there's no use just trying to banish the demons. You have to replace them with something else, or it will never work.

Anonymous said...

You are such a sweet and amazing person, keep focusing on the "light". It is also always so lovely to hear of the support that you have in your life and in your home from your partner.


LSL said...

I would also recommend Feeding Your Demons. I attended a workshop at a women's spirituality workshop led by the author and found it quite a compelling idea. You stop fighting with your demons and instead you figure out what they need versus what they want and then feed it to them. Then you can stop fighting and heal together.

svasti said...

Been meaning to comment on this post for the last day! Finally, I have a moment to sit here and write...

When you talked of Monsters, I immediately recognised what I've come to label the "Bottom Lurker". Its like a parasitic energy or being. It lives in the shadows and it waits for us to weaken, which is when it makes its move.

It holds on to our hurts. To all the mean and nasty stories we've ever told ourselves and believed. It holds onto every slight. Every poor self-image we've ever thought. It guards them jealously and always wants more, more, more.

It's true that it dislikes Happy, Fulfilled & Engaged. It hates sunshine and joy.

And it's also true that we have to find a way to slay it eventually. The more we do to strengthen our lives, the weaker it becomes. And so it goes...