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Waking Up

How Depression feels like Hibernation

Driving through a fog is scary and often dangerous. Living through a fog of depression is another thing all together. What's worse is that you often don't realize that you've been in it until something wakes you up. Something really good, really bad, really scary or really stressful. Something that shakes you to your core and makes you think: What am I even doing?

Depression is a sneaky adversary; one that invades your senses like a thief in the night. It creeps into your system slowly until it oozes out of every pore, every facet of your existence. It can leave you feeling numb and unaware. But what happens when you start to gain awareness? What happens when you wake up?

Imagine being a pilot in the cockpit. You have your hands on the controls, and you've checked out. Just going through the motions. Suddenly, you realize you are heading straight for a mountain side. You start to feel panic, but quickly take action to change course. You make maneuvers. But nothing happens. You realize you've been in autopilot and haven't had control for the duration of the flight to this point.

That's what depression does. It puts you in auto pilot. It puts you in the passenger seat, in the audience of your own life story. Desperately yelling at the screen, "Do something!", "Get out of there!". But nothing changes, because we aren't taking control.

That ill feeling when you wake up, and stand too quickly is amplified as if you've been in a year-long hibernation. It drags you through the day, not because you want to do what you're doing, but because you are on autopilot. But then you wake up. You withdraw from the secluded darkness you've spent the winter in. You switch off the autopilot. You take the controls. Now what?

How do you suddenly start navigating the mess you've unwittingly created? And, more importantly, what happens if you don't? What happens if you check out, if you go back into hibernation. If you switch autopilot back on. It becomes a cycle, right? It becomes depressing to come out of your depression. It feels like you have no safe haven less. The walls close in on you. You crash into the mountain side.

But, it doesn't have to be that way. Nope. It can get better, brighter, and safer. It just takes time. Waking up is hard, so what helps? Coffee. Conversation. Moving. Prayer. Doing one thing. Just one. Then another.

It is really not easy to come out of a depressive cycle. It's so much easier to just turn around and go back to bed, to hide under the covers that shield you from the shame of an unlived life. But if you wake up, and you stretch, you can do one more thing. You can make a cup of coffee or tea. Then you can do one more thing. Maybe you wash a couple dishes. Maybe you call a friend. Maybe you write a poem, take a shower, wash your face, put on a clean shirt, go for a walk. It doesn't have to be huge, not at first. Just pull yourself out of autopilot and make a choice to do something. Than make another choice to do one more thing.

Life is tricky. It's beautiful, but it's hard. Sometimes, the only thing you can do is breathe in and out, and that's okay. Coming out of a depression, waking up is not for the weak of heart. It's for those who know that what's on the other side of the mountain is worth flying for.

If you feel like you need to talk, there is always someone to listen. If you don't have anyone in your personal life that you can talk to, I am here. If you need someone more professional, there are others out there. You are not alone, I promise.

1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Hotline.

741741 is the Crisis Text line. Text "HOME"

depression
Emily LeClaire
Emily LeClaire
Read next: Never In the Cover of Night
Emily LeClaire
See all posts by Emily LeClaire

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