Yesterday I cited Elizabeth Wurtzel, comparing depression to a cage without a key.

Today I saw my therapist, the very insightful E.  She was pretty sick with a cold but still managed to be helpful.  In between coughing fits, she listened to me describe where I’ve been recently, along with my plaintive, “What is wrong with me?  In the pit again? Shouldn’t I know better by now?”  And here is what she said:

Don’t be hard on yourself for sliding into the pit.  That road has been well paved for you by your past, by your family.   It’s not because you choose it but because it’s the most natural road for you to travel that you end up there sometimes.  This probably won’t be the last time.

But remember, you have found your way out before.  You can do it again.  You start with the little steps you can do, the easiest ones first, and build to bigger ones.  If you can’t recall the reasons why you deserve better than the pit, why you are worth the effort, then you can turn to those of us around you who love you and know you are a good person. Borrow the admiration of others while your own self-image is distorted.

Here are some of the little steps, the starting points

  • Take your pain seriously (don’t minimize or deny it)
  • Choose positive self talk (“I have  a right to enjoy life”)
  • Accept support from your loving husband — tell him what you need
  • Show compassion with the woman who fell into the pit
  • Create a vision of what you want to have in your life when you are no longer depressed

In the session we talked about the pit and finding the steps to help climb out of it, but it would just as easily work to say that there is, in fact, a key that will open the door of the cage.  I will try to believe that even on the days when the steps seem too steep or I can’t locate the key.

(Thank you, E, and I hope you get over that cold soon.)