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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Challenging My Depression (2)

What if even the most severe depression were a state of mind?
Even when you are the most depressed you can ever imagine someone being (that is, 10 out of 10), there are all sorts of stupidly ordinary things that YOU CAN DO that will gradually have some impact on you state of mind. You just want to stay in bed, to sleep, perchance to die quietly without anyone noticing. It does not work like that. Just get up... OK, if you can't do that, wait until you need to go to the bathroom, then get up and go. Now do three things. The first is to wash your hands as you would just as a routine. Then clean your teeth. Yes, I know it sounds stupid, but it is part of what we do every day, one of life's little routines, and that clean minty taste washes the sourness of depression out of your mouth. Swill the residual toothpaste out of your mouth, and have a look at your teeth. There you are, you are looking at yourself in the mirror. But also you are smiling... well sort of smiling... OK, you are grimacing. But you are using some muscles you may not have used in a while. Now poke your tongue out and look at that. It is probably a bit coated, and may need a bit of a scrub with the toothbrush, Do that, gently, and then poke your tongue out at yourself again to see whether it is clean enough. Now look at your teeth again with a little grimace. Feel stupid? OK, but somewhere in that routine you may just have found a small smile at yourself, at what you have become, and how strangely life is treating you. Or you may just have grimaced at the thought of some highly trained, slightly stupid, shrink telling you to clean your teeth! But it is practice for the next bit.
Now even if you have not had a shower, put some clothes on. OK, I know, you may have slept in your clothes from yesterday, Doesn't matter. Get up and walk out of your bedroom. Go to the kitchen and make a cup of tea or coffee. These stimulants actually do begin to get the sluggish mind working again. But what I want is for you to have left the bedroom and DONE something. Now, if there is someone in the rest of the house I want you to do something else that sounds stupid. Go and show them your newly cleaned teeth. Its not for them, and its not to show them you are a good boy or girl and have actually done something, its a bit more practice with those muscles round your mouth. OK it might feel like a grimace, but with any luck they will smile at you. As humans, we mirror others - that is we copy (sometimes in a small way) the movements that they show us.With a bit of luck they will show a hint of a smile. A good strategy is to smile back. Then you can tell them how some strange paraplegic shrink suggested you clean your teeth and then show someone. With any luck both of you will smile. It may not instantly cure your despair, but it is a small beginning.


  1. After umpty years of depression oscillating between "pretty bloody good" to "constantly thinking about suicide" I find I don't often get down to completely stationary. However, doing just one practical thing in a day (like cleaning my teeth or having a shower) can get me going so that I accomplish more the next. The problem with ageing, still being a little depressed at my best, is that I often lose hope & there's no substitute for hope. Where does it come from? I'll take a gross. You seem to have things to hope for- or did you fool yourself with them? I don't seem to be able to do that any more either.

    1. Kay, just found your reply to my post of last year. Sorry to have missed it. Hope things are better for you....