Awareness and acceptance- One of the first things that an individual needs to do before embarking on their road to recovery from depression or low mood is to become aware of their emotions before accepting them for what they are.
“The first step towards change is awareness. The second step is acceptance” [Nathanial Branden]
I often tell people that my road to recovery began with my surrender to the illness and they recoil in horror to think that I should have on the face of it accepted my condition and given up the fight. This is not what I mean by surrender or acceptance and I feel this is an important distinction and lesson for people to learn and understand. I learned that instead of using my energy to fight against the illness its impact and the stigma, by accepting depression as part of me I was able to transfer that energy into getting better. This made a big difference.
“As you become more clear about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what’s best for you” [Oprah Winfrey]
It is difficult to express what I mean by surrendering or accepting my illness but Alexandra Massey in her book “Beat Depression and Reclaim Your Life” sums it up nicely in parts.
“At some point you have to surrender to the fact that you are suffering from depression and that you feel powerless over it…..submit to your feelings.”
“Don’t be afraid of what might happen; you won’t lose any more control than you have lost already. Good things will come from this stage. If you feel worse than you have ever felt before this is because the feelings that you have been running from are surfacing. But it is more exhausting to be constantly running than it is to STOP, turn around and face what you have been running from. ….you have had to contend with the exhaustion of running plus the fear of the unknown”
To surrender, Alexandra recommends some of the following every day;
- Sink into your depression
- Stop trying not to be depressed
- If tears rise to the surface, let them out
- Ask no questions
- Take time off-get a sick note
- Stay in bed-damn the world
- Make no big decisions
- Shelve your projects
- Suspend self crticism-surrender instead.
Remember; ” Acceptance is not submission, it is acknowledgement of the facts of a situation then deciding what you’re going to do about it” [Kathleen Casey Thiesen]