Remembering the Small Victories

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

I’ve been looking through some of my older, less positive posts on depression. There’s a theme that keeps popping up. At times, I can go from recognizing that I’ve made progress in treatment to forgetting it entirely. It’s like there’s a switch that tries to downplay any and all effort I’ve made in the past few years. That’s a natural feature of depression, and certainly it’s difficult to remember how to cope while having anxiety issues.

Like many problems, it can’t be seen directly.
I needed to look back in order to see it in action. There are days where I tell myself I’m no better off than when I started going to therapy and taking meds. Like many of the other lies of depression, this one sounds reasonable when I feel like I’m better off dead. Forgetting important facts puts me at the mercy of whatever whim I’m currently faced with.

That said, it’s not too big of a surprise for me. I still can’t bring happy memories to mind without spending a long time thinking about them. Sometimes I have to settle for when I broke a bone or had some other injury that I survived. The exultation of not dying is a cheap substitute for being happy or content.

Until recently, I didn’t know that depression robs me of more than just happy memories. It really does affect my thinking process. Details that might combat it get forgotten or misplaced. Instead, the only positive feeling I’m allowed to have is the peace that comes with contemplating suicide. Of course this is dangerous, and my only defense is to quietly and persistently question the conclusions I draw when depressed.

I feel like I need to do more.
I might need to make this post the first thing I read whenever I do get into a depressive episode. I need to remind myself that yes, it feels like shit right now. It never was always this way. The details will come back, like the tide rolling out and revealing sunken treasure. Just let the water roll out, and they will reveal themselves again.

Naturally, it’s hard not to do this in a way that doesn’t feel like I’m lying to myself. The cynic in me is pretty harsh when I’m depressed. It tells me I might as well go find a unicorn that shoots rainbows out of its ass. I get left with feeling like I need to just shut down entirely.

Thus, fighting the process appears to be defeating in its own way, or at least a pursuit my depressive self has experience fighting. At times like this, I’m reminded that struggling with depression means I need to be smarter and better than myself. Logically, it’s an impossibility.

I’m also ignoring the role that anxiety plays in all of this.
Depression is a mechanism to shut my mind down. Anxiety is what prompted its cultivation, because my brain would not stop working when it was agitated. And it was agitated all the time.

Maybe if I worked on that a bit more, I might need to rely on depression less, and then it will weaken over time. I really don’t know, since I have no way of measuring results. At any rate, I feel like I should at least still keep notes.

And on the plus side, at least it has me writing more often again.

24 thoughts on “Remembering the Small Victories

  1. You know what I think when I read these kinds of posts? (the self-analyzing ones) How brave you are. Of all the people I interact with online, I know you are the one who has the most courage – the courage to reveal your innermost turmoil.
    I commend you for that, SB. I am proud to know you. I also believe you are helping others who are not brave enough to comment. Give yourself a pat on the back. 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

  2. So, if I understand correctly, you think your mind is sort of playing a trick on you? Pushing bad memories to the forefront, and good ones to the back?
    I often wonder about this because on multiple occasions I’ve been accused of only remembering bad things – but might not there be a reasonable explanation for that? I don’t know. Probably not a helpful comment… I know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So much chemistry at work here. My brother remembers the same events I do when we were kids. He remembers them in a negative light, and I’m always the positive. Weird. When he tells a childhood story I wonder if I was even there it is so different from mine. Why is that?

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      • Well he was the third of four and I was the fourth. Positioning maybe. I do think middle kids see things differently. I’ve never figured it out but he has carried a lot of that into adulthood.

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    • From what I can explain about it, it’s like a confirmation bias, except it’s against my well-being. So I easily remember everything that’s painful, awful, embarrassing, and that harms me, but anything that gives me joy takes forever to recall.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Interesting. And not intentional. I remember almost all the good things. Even now it’s that way. That may be a defense as well. Maybe I’m the one that can’t handle reality and I select the positive to protect myself.


  3. “Running causes lasting changes in our ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, both during and after exercise.”. What’s more: The repetitive motions of running appear to have a meditative effect on the brain.

    I came across this quote, and have read elsewhere that aerobic exercise, especially outside in the sunlight can really help with both anxiety and depression. I wonder if something like running outside, or even brisk walking would help to shut down this brain agitation that you’re experiencing.

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  4. SB, I am loving reading more posts of yours! If you can, keep it up.

    As you know, a huge part of why I blog is to look back and remind myself of the cyclical nature of mood states and to see the progress I’ve made. It’s excruciatingly slow and often times going in the opposite direction, but progress is there. Somehow through the act of writing for others I’m forced to focus my thoughts and that usually helps me get some needed perspective. It can be dangerous to live in one’s own head all the time.

    I was just thinking the other day about how when I’m in different mood states it can feel like I’m a completely different person. To the point of losing memory and not being able to identify with my “other self” at all! It is terrifying!

    I laughed when I read “I might as well go find a unicorn that shoots rainbows out of its ass” because that’s how I see my “other self” (as the unicorn) and I’ll just want to beat that unicorn to a bloody pulp.

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