Depression loves to lie to you. Whether it is a small lie (“new recipes never turn out right for you”) or a big one (“you’re not going to find another job in your field”), Depression is going to twist things up and make you doubt that good things will happen in life.
I know I’m far from alone in the struggle with Depression during this pandemic. March and April had some dark days that had nothing to do with the timing of sunset. For me and in my state, things started to perk up a little in May. The weather got a little warmer. The days got a little longer. Some “non-essential” businesses began opening up. This gave me a brief reprieve from the worst of Depression.
But as more businesses were allowed to open up and life crept towards the “next normal,” Depression started talking to me again… If things were opening up and life was getting better for most people, why was I still stuck? Depression ranted on in my head:
“You’re not good enough to get an interview for all these remote jobs.”
“You can go on dates now, but they are still failures.”
“Why aren’t you writing?”
“You’re being weak, letting depression keep you from taking advantage of all this ‘free’ time.”
“There’s something wrong with you.”
Depression said “Don’t Even Bother Trying”
There was one small insidious lie that Depression had told me and I’d let it loom large as the summer days moved on. It created a combination of fear and anxiety that kept me from moving forward with something I enjoyed: Surfing.
Back in December, prior to leaving my job, I took a vacation to Costa Rica for 1 week at Witch’s Rock Surf Camp. I am not a fast physical learner, so I was still struggling to catch waves by the end of the week. Still, I loved it. I didn’t plan on buying surf gear when I got home because I was not ready for frigid winter surfing in Maine. I decided to wait and buy the gear when it was warmer & I had a new job.
Then COVID-19 hit and the job market for my career went from quiet to nonexistent. The weather warmed up. My roomy, Noah, and several teammates started to ask me when I was getting a board. Surfing was the perfect sport for physical distancing, especially on long boards. “Come on, join us, have some fun! If you have to be stuck without a job in summer, at least take advantage!” But every time they asked, Depression spoke up:
“You’re going to mess up and ruin their fun.”
“They’ll have to babysit you because you’re clueless.”
“You’ll embarrass them.”
I wasn’t worried about being bad – that’s normal – I was worried about being a problem. A hindrance to their enjoyment. Cluelessly bumbling into social circumstances where I don’t understand the rules and wreck their play time.
White Belt Mentality
Packing up after class one afternoon, my testing buddy John asked me once again when I was going to get a board. I told him the light duty version of my fears – that I’d be struggling and get in the way. “Come on, that’s white belt mentality. You gotta get out of that.” He was right. Even though we are both still white belts (he’s striped out and I suspect he’ll be blue before long), the mentality was the problem.
I asked Noah & John each what they expected would be a fair price to get me outfitted with a basic board and wetsuit. The number they gave me wasn’t as bad as I expected. I asked Cole, BJJ brown belt & surfing “white belt,” which board he’d chosen. I hunted down an 8′ Wavestorm online and bought a 4/3 wetsuit from Black Point Surf Shop (after getting a full body workout trying a few on).
My board arrived on the second half of a really shitty day. “All the things” were going wrong – or not going anywhere – and they had piled up at once and overwhelmed me. I sent Cole a text to tell him it was finally here. He immediately asked if I want to meet up with him in an hour. I wasn’t sure my ego or heart could take another disappointment that day, but he wasn’t hearing it. I was going even if he had to drag me.
Here is what really happened
It’s been a couple of months since that first trip to Higgins. Sitting out on my board one day -watching the waves, feeling the sun, and just enjoying the moment – it struck me that Depression had lied to me. I wasn’t a burden to my friends. I wasn’t terrible and endlessly bumbling in my surf etiquette. I was just a new surfer, trying things and learning as I went. This was the truth:
I mostly stayed out of people’s way.
I apologized when I unwittingly ended up in someone’s path.
I struggled, but in the usual ways you expect with a new surfer.
I got teeny bits better over time – paddling, watching waves, catching waves, and standing up.
I had fun with my friends and bonded over a shared activity.
I even went out alone a few times.
I remembered that Depression lies. You have to call her on her bullshit and move toward the good things in life in spite of her.
What lies has Depression told you?
If Depression lives in your head, take a look at what s/he’s saying to you. What lies is she telling? What fears is she making loom larger? What blockades exist simply because she said you couldn’t do it? Good things weaken her hold on your life. How is she keeping her grip tight?