We’ve come to that time of year again: the holidays are passed, it’s the dead of winter, and although the days are getting brighter slowly, it’s still dark and cold and feels like a long time till spring. This is a time of year that many people struggle with, especially if you were already struggling with high-functioning depression. So, if times are feeling a little dark for you right now, I hear you, and I want to tell you about an experience I once had that reminded me there is always hope, even in the darkest of storms.
Struggling in the Darkness of High-Functioning Depression
It can be hard to maintain hope amidst the darkness, whether that darkness is literal or figurative. Now, I know that if you are stuck in the middle of difficulty right now, you might not want to hear some airy-fairy message about hope. Believe me, I get it. I’m a New Englander by birth, and we are raised to be a hearty breed who buckle down during tough times, put on our brave faces and soldier on. But I also know that it’s hard to do that if we feel like there is nothing to look forward to.
If you are struggling with high-functioning depression, I know how hard it can be to put on the brave face every day and trudge to work, or deal with your kids or other daily responsibilities. I’m guessing that a lot of the time you don’t even let on how bad it really feels inside. You just keep doing what you’ve always done, because well, somebody’s got to do it, right?
Oftentimes, you just keep on keeping on because you don’t know what else to do. You keep doing it long after the joy has run out and you’re not even sure why you’re doing it anymore. You’re just going through the motions of your life, feeling like you’re living under a dark cloud (or maybe sometimes a raging thunderstorm).
The Tricks Our Minds Play that Make Depression Worse
When human beings are stuck in the midst of difficulty, our minds often play some nasty tricks on us that make a hard situation even worse. One of the tricks our brain likes to play is to take present circumstances and project them out indefinitely into the future. What do I mean by that?
Well, let’s say you’re having a crappy day, everything seems terrible and it feels like there’s no hope that things will ever change. You are in the middle of the storm. You’re out of energy to try any harder and you just want to give up and pull the covers over your head. Your brain will take that temporary experience and project it out into the future, making it look like all days will be crappy days and things will never get any better, simply because they feel terrible right now. It feels like the storm will never pass and you’ll live under a dark cloud forever.
Sound at all familiar? I know my brain plays this trick, and before I realized it was simply a trick, like a fun-house mirror, that distorts reality…I spent a lot of days feeling hopeless about the future. But now I know better, so I can catch my brain holding up the distorted mirror and call its bluff.
But There is Hope for High-Functioning Depression
I know how easy it is to get sucked into the distorted picture of a hopeless future when you’re feeling depressed. And it’s not all in your head either, there is likely a very real chemical imbalance in your brain that is making everything more difficult for you than for people who are not struggling with depression. But that doesn’t mean it will always be that way.
I had an experience once that really hammered this point home for me in a visceral way that I’d like to share with you, so that if you are in the middle of a storm yourself you don’t get tricked into believing it will last forever.
It’s Always Sunny Above the Clouds
During a dark period in my own life I was feeling particularly hopeless about the future and the possibility that anything would ever change for the better. And on this particular day, Mother Nature appeared to be reflecting my gloomy mood back at me in spectacular fashion. It was dark and stormy outside as I rode the bus to the airport and boarded my plane. There was even a bit of thunder and lightning, but it was just far enough in the distance that planes were still taking off.
The takeoff was a bit rough because of the storm, but while the plane rattled and shook a bit, we made it off the ground – thanks to the skill of the pilot and the instruments they had to help guide them through an otherwise unnavigable dark sky. And then it happened.
The plane shook and rattled some more as we broke through the final layer of clouds and there it was… a beautiful clear blue sky with the sun shining brightly as ever. The contrast to the darkness of 30 seconds ago was remarkable. I couldn’t believe how beautiful, and calm and peaceful it was above the clouds.
Depression is Just a Temporary Dark Cloud
What I realized in that moment is that much like the storm we’d just flown above, my dark mood was just some nasty weather that was obscuring the sunshine. Just like the sunshine, there were still good things in my life and the potential for hope was there, it was simply covered up temporarily by the dark cloud that had been following me around.
So, on dark days, I remember that somewhere high above all the storminess of my own mind and experience, it is sunny and bright. Remembering that helps me remember that my situation is only temporary bad weather that will eventually pass.
Depression Treatment Can Help You Navigate the Storm
If you are in the middle of a dark storm right now and don’t feel like there is any hope of navigating your way out of it, depression treatment can help. Much like the pilot of the plane had experience and instruments to help guide them through the storm that otherwise seemed too dark to navigate, seeing a psychotherapist can help people with high-functioning depression find their way out of the storm. I have provided depression treatment to many clients with high-functioning depression and helped them find their way back to the sunshine. Click the button below to set up a free consult call and let’s make a plan to get you back to the sunshine too!
For more information on the symptoms of depression and what depression therapy looks like, visit the Depression Treatment page.