How to climb out of a hole

This is not a literal hole. I would characterize it as a hole of despair.  And I’m not sure I climbed out as much as I was pulled out.  It was definitely a combination of me climbing and three or four people pulling.

About six days ago, I was swept off my feet by a flood of sadness, worthlessness, and a sense of purposelessness. Suddenly I felt like I had fallen into a dark, scary place and I didn’t know where I was or where I was going. 

Those of you reading this who struggle with depression understand that place. It’s a place you live in, get pushed in or fall into. It’s a serious medical condition that is treatable, which is the good news, but it affects your mood so significantly that it’s hard to find pleasure in things you used to enjoy. For some it comes on quickly, for others, it lingers and hangs around the edges of their lives. 

Here are a few ideas on how to survive “the hole” that were helpful to me.

  1. I told someone what I was going through. This is the hardest thing to do, I know. But tell at least one person. Don’t try and go it alone. The deception of this disorder or disease is that you are all alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!  There are Friends and family and professionals who want to and can help you.
  2. I let myself cry it out.  When we’re in the hole, we fear our feelings the most; it’s like they echo off the walls and they’re louder and more intense than ever; we fear they’ll take us down further into the hole.  But it’s ok to have our feelings. The more we experience our emotions, the more we get them out, and the better we feel.  
  3. Someone told me I was brave and that my life mattered to them and I held on to that for dear life.  So let me tell you –  you are a brave soul.  You are so brave!  We are brave! We are facing this thing, all these things, our demons, whatever, and we’re not stopping. We can do this, together, knowing that we are brave. And your life matters! Look around you at all the people you influence. Pretty amazing. 
  4. I cried out to God for help. If you have faith in Someone higher than you, a higher power, God, Source, Love, even if it’s just a tiny bit of faith, grab ahold of that faith. Call on God to help you. God will hear you and help you. God has not forgotten you.  Maybe I should have started with this one. Because let’s be honest here, when we’re in the hole, we’re crying out, screaming, for God, Love, to hear us, am I right?
  5. I got out of my house. I live in a cold climate and it’s day 179 of winter, so I haven’t gotten out much to talk to my neighbors. Make yourself get out for some social interaction, even if it’s just walking into your bank and asking for a sucker. Visit a friend or a family member. Do volunteer work, go to church, do something that puts you in contact with happy people. Or, get a dog.  🙂

If you’ve battled depression or despair or anxiety, I understand. As one therapist says, “I see you.” I love that. We want and need to be seen and heard. Be kind to yourself, knowing that you are not alone, and that you are brave to be facing all that you’ve gone through in your life and still, with all that pain you’ve endured, you’ve found the love in your heart to share with others. You’re an amazing person. 

Of course, eating healthy, exercising, snuggling with a pet, and creating something like artwork (and it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece) all have value in elevating mood.  But if your symptoms persist, or if they worsen, give your doctor a call. It won’t hurt to chat with her or him to discuss the best treatment options for you.  


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