Do you find dark, dank days depressing? Wet and windy outside; with no sign of reprieve? I often feel melancholy and unmotivated. In the past when I’ve felt down or depressed I have behaved in one of two ways; I succumbed to the black hole or I tried to push it away by numbing myself with food. Neither behaviour proved effective in maintaining a positive mindset. And this year as the winter days set in, again, I started to feel that familiar wave of melancholy. But...I made a choice to try something different. This year I took control. I accepted it. I didn’t judge the feelings I was having, nor did I push them away. I implemented the knowledge I have learnt with my therapist using Acceptance Commitment Therapy. David also teaches this valuable tool to our participants at the FOHL Retreat. I will share with you how I used ACT to feel more in control.
I actively visualised depression taking on a form and knocking on my front door. It’s often referred to as the Black Dog so it made sense to me to see it as a large black dog standing upright at my door. I opened the door to it and had an imaginary conversation which went a little something like this:
Oh hi! It’s you again. I notice round about this time every year you turn up on my door. Well, come in if you want and take a seat over there on the couch. I need to have a talk to you about a few ground rules I’ve made and that you’re going to have to adhere to if you’re planning on staying. You can stay if you want, but I have things to do and am too busy to sit here entertaining you all day and night. I don’t mind you staying, but I’m in charge around here and you’ll have to sleep in the back room and follow the rules. In the past, I’ve noticed that you like to take over and run the show around here. This time it’s different....
It sounds a little silly when I wrote it down and read it, but it worked for me; I was able to accept feeling melancholy without judging myself for it. I noticed it and adjusted my actions based on acceptance, compassion and self care. The difference has been quite profound to how I’ve responded. I actually feel quite powerful and rather clever. In accepting the existence of the black dog in my life, I was able to keep it at bay and not let depression control me. I have made positive steps in my day to day that I know keep my brain and body active which help maintain a positive mindset. Each adjustment I made has been a healthy choice and I feel proud of myself.
Suddenly on reflection, my days don’t feel so dark and dank. I can see the light in each day, and I can be grateful.
I hope you too are grateful and living each day with light and love.
I can’t wait to see so many of you at our July workshop in Hamilton and I’m excited about us all dressing up for our Winter Wonderland Ball.