Down the Rabbit Hole and Back Up Again: Part Two

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Alice finding door

In Down The Rabbit Hole Part I, you may have walked away with the idea that falling down the ‘rabbit hole’ of depression is inevitable.  Well, for many of us it is, to some degree.  That’s why I’m back today.  Yes, I find myself depressed during certain times of the year.  The good news is, there’s a way out.

There are several things I do to get out of that rabbit hole, and none of it is as crazy as the stuff poor Alice In Wonderland faced. Through years of counseling and years of experience, I have found a formula that works for me.

These ideas may or may not work for you, but they are worth trying.  Of course, if depression doesn’t lift after you have done everything you can to help yourself, seek professional help.  With that said, these are my thoughts about ways in which I have found my way out of that dang rabbit hole.

Recognize Your Season

Falling down the rabbit hole is something I know is inevitable for me during certain times of the year.  Knowing this is part of my salvation.  As they say; “forewarned is forearmed.”

Depression is like many illnesses – the more we know, the more prepared we are, the more likely we are to recover.  When the dates approach, I talk about it with my family.  It’s coming.  I know it.  Saying it out loud with those who know me best (and most likely are going through the same thing) is a way to prepare.  Pretending this time isn’t coming does absolutely no good whatsoever.

Accept Your Feelings

It’s true that the years have softened the blows I feel from the losses I’ve suffered.  But what happens to people like me who have “situational depression” is that even small situations can trigger the FEELINGS of a bigger situation.

During the times when I’m most likely to become depressed, I recognize the small triggers and give them the same respect I do the big triggers.  This helps bring about the same result – lessening the depression or quickening the recovery.

Accepting the importance of these smaller triggers also validates feelings, and validated feelings are the only kind of feelings we can work our way through.  Unvalidated feelings get stuffed and land us back in that rabbit hole.

Remember Your Recovery

Each time I end up down the rabbit hole, I remind myself that it’s a temporary situation.  I remember the times I thought I’d never smile again; then I did.

I remember that even if I am depressed at times, I very often laugh at the same time.  I guess what I want to say is a good life full of laughs does not exclude depression, and depression does not exclude a good life full of laughs.

I am a happy person who also happens to get depressed.  I do not have a cloud following me around.  I am not a sad little stick figure on a commercial for anti-depressants.  Sometimes I am very happy and I still want to go to bed.  But, I know I will get up again. That’s what recovery is like for me.  It’s important to remember that.

Reach Out And Renew

I have people I love who know about this darkness and care about my recovery.  I have learned to reach out to them instead of pulling the covers over my head.

Make a phone call, write a note, contact someone to say; “Yes, I am in bed today, but tomorrow I’ll call you again.”

Making that connection is a big part of moving forward.  Then, you’ll be ready to take the next step; perhaps get together and walk.

On the same note as connecting, we sometimes need to accept a new challenge – to renew.  I’m not talking about something gigantic, just something outside of what we are currently doing.

I have been working at home for many years.  When the woman who does my facials called to say she needed someone to take charge of her appointments and phone calls, I knew it was something I needed to do.  The call came at the height of my depression.

I embraced the opportunity to get out of the house and do something new.  It was time I made a change.  I was outside my comfort zone, but only slightly, which was good.  Small changes are still good changes.

What I Know

I have what my counselor calls “situational depression.”  For this reason, I know that certain times and certain events will trigger my depression.

But, it’s alright.

Because there’s a lesson I can take from Alice In Wonderland.

Just like Alice, I will find that little door… and open it.

I am reassured once more that my depression is just a season in my life – not the entirety of my life.

Thank you, Barbara, for letting me share my thoughts with you and your readers.  I hope my experiences with depression will help clear up some of the confusion that so many have about this complicated issue.

p.s.  For more about the signs of depression, the dichotomy of depression, and how it affects us at our age, please read my blog post – Depression In Baby Boomers – I’m So Happy I Just Want To Go To Bed.  And don’t forget to leave a comment.  I love the company here in the blogosphere!

About The Tiny Door: 

Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage… she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains…

Discovering that little door, and finding your way through it and into that lovely garden with bright flowers and cool fountains isn’t necessarily easy.  Poor Alice went through hell and back to find her way.  I can feel the excitement of pulling that curtain back to discover that tiny door, and the hope that I might find a lovely garden and cool fountains when I work my way through that door.

Alice finding door

“Alice Finding Tiny Door Behind Curtain” – The Tenniel Illustrations for Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland by Sir John Tenniel

Visit Project Gutenberg at www.gutenberg.org to see over 42,000 ebooks, free for your viewing and downloading pleasure.  Enjoy.

Patti school pic

About the Author:  Patti Winker has enjoyed reading and writing ever since she can remember.  She likes sharing stories of growing up in the 50s and 60s on her blog RemarkableWrinklies.com You’ll also find her stories in our collaboration – Tangerine Tango

In addition to waxing nostalgic, Patti also writes about aging well.  Part of Patti’s journey through life has been her battle with depression.  This two part guest post is her way of telling others that depression doesn’t need to defeat a person, but it isn’t always easy either, especially as we get older.

According to the CDC, the highest rate of depression occurs between the ages of 45 and 64, then drops off again after 65.  In her blog post – I’m So Happy I Just Want To Go To Bed Patti explores this problem that many ‘baby boomers’ are experiencing right now;  reaching a perceived perfection, but not feeling the joy.  I hope you find some useful information and support in these posts.

About the Picture:  Patti said she laughed right out loud when she found this picture of herself and knew immediately she had to use it for this guest post.  I think she looks rather “Alice-ish,” don’t you?   Patti estimates this to be her 2nd or 3rd grade school picture, about the time she would have been reading Alice in Wonderland, and wondering what kind of crazy person Lewis Carroll was.

15 responses »

  1. You do look like Alice!! 🙂 Thanks so much for your honesty and all of your insights and suggestions.
    A very powerful post. Validation for feelings is so important even if just having a discussion or quarrel with someone. Stuffing is so harmful and effects can be felt years later.

    • Thank you, Judy. That picture sure makes me laugh. 😉 You like the bangs? Ha!

      And, you make me blush. I’m glad you found my post worth reading.

      Yes, validation is a big big big part of getting through tough times and hurtful feelings. And we need validation both from others AND ourselves. I think as women we tend to stuff our feelings and deny the validation we need internally more often than we even know. You are right – it sure does come back years later.

      Thank you again for reading, and for your kind words. I’m humbled by your compliment.

  2. Very, very good post. I shall keep the tips in mind just in case. Lovely picture of Ms. Winker from 2nd grade. I really like the Alice metaphors!

    • {{blush}} Thank you so much, Silvia. Your compliments mean a lot to me. I’m so glad you found my post informative enough to read, comment, and to even log the tips away just in case. If you know anyone who might benefit from anything I’ve shared, please do share this post,

      Again, I surely do appreciate your thoughts and kind words.

    • Thank you, Lisa. Isn’t that picture just too funny!? Those bangs! I have to laugh. I also have to think of all the time my Mom took putting curlers in my hair. What a memory.

      Yes, I think sharing is probably one of the best things we can do for other people who may be suffering from depression. It’s such a vague illness, without crisp, clean diagnostic lines. Just knowing how confusing depression can be helps clear things up, if that makes sense.

      Thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment, Lisa. I sure appreciate you.

  3. Patti…also wanted to share with you a new discovery I have made…the highly sensitive person. It is a trait (only 20% of population) whereby the world is processed more intensely and sensitively. It can have a whole host of effects in life. Here is the website http://www.hsperson.com/. There are books and workbooks and blogs on the subject which I have only started to explore. You may find it interesting.

    • Thank you, Judy.

      It’s very interesting that you should share this, because when I was growing up I remember being ‘accused’ of being “too sensitive.” We were expected to be stronger, less sensitive, so we could handle an aggressor’s (bully’s) assault. I don’t recall anyone accusing the aggressor of being “too insensitive.” I do believe some kids have a ‘thicker skin’ than other kids; perhaps from birth, perhaps from environment.

      I’m clicking on now to take a look. Thank you for sharing the link. I’ll be curious to see how this relates to depression. Thanks again.

      • Patti….it has been earth shattering for me!! Jut explains a lot and makes me not feel so weird!! 🙂

  4. Every summer that I can remember, I have spent hiding. Either up a tree with a book as a child or as a grownup just going through the motions of work and chores but no fun. I never knew that was depression until one of my children was diagnosed and his therapist asked that question in the intake assessment.
    Even now, 5 years later — being high summer here in Atlanta — I blame my lethargy and withdrawal on the heat when it is nothing of the sort.
    Thank you for writing about this. I didn’t know anyone else really suffered from this and it makes me feel better that someone I admire as much as Patti falls down the same holes I do.

    • Well, Sylvia, you’ve gone and done it… I’m in tears. Good tears. Your kind words touched me deeply. Thank you.

      Okay, pulling myself together here…

      I also live in the south. Living in a sunny place doesn’t “fix” depression, and the heat may not be the culprit that’s causing our lethargy. We both know how this works. I have spent gorgeous sunny days curled up in bed, wishing for rain. Then, the next day I’m better.

      I’m glad your child is getting real help. We didn’t always have that available to us. Sitting in a tree with a book may have been our only therapy.

      Thank you again, Sylvia, for such kind words. People who don’t understand depression often think that crying and emotional outbursts are signs of depression; we know they are wrong. When we cry, we feel. And when we feel, the depression lifts. Thank you for bringing a tear to my eye, and a smile to my lips. Many of us fall down the same holes. It’s good to have someone to share the climb back out.

      HUGS

  5. I agree about Alice in Wonderland – started the book several times and just couldn’t stick with it (even though I was “Alice” for Halloween one year). I recently came across my aunt’s copy and am thinking I should read it, if only to understand the famous characters associated with it. Here’s a link to a Cake Wrecks post of beautiful Alice-inspired cakes http://cakewrecks.squarespace.com/home/2013/7/28/sunday-sweets-wonderland-treats.html

  6. Thank you for reading and commenting, Claritza. I’m thinking it might be time for me to put aside my… what? Dislike? Revulsion? Confusion?… and read it. It could be a very good lesson. And thank you for the fun link. Wow! Those cakes were over the top! 😉 It was a fun stroll through sweetened Wonderland. Thanks again.

  7. Pingback: Depression: Down the Rabbit Hole and Back Up Again - Part Two - Generation Fabulous

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