Mind Mending: going from grey to technicolor, naturally

I’m back.

I have managed to get my mind out of it’s flannelette shirt and into a bright summer frock of expectancy.

Albeit, it was a brief brush with the Black Dog. He’s now curled up harmlessly on the floor, peacefully sleeping. This recent soul-venture has made me realise that as a result of all of those intermittent dances with despair, I really do have quite the carpet bag of tricks to help me shake off the space. I was also reminded by the lovely Viv McWaters that tomorrow is National Are You Okay? Day in Australia. In light of this notion of creating connection and as an advocate of hope and healing, I want to share some of the tools I have found useful in rediscovering my joie de vivre .

A Word on Anti-Depressants 

None of my methods involve medication. I’ve been prescribed anti-depressants a number of times; I have never used them. Partly because I’m a bit of a nature-loving-earth-child and prefer to do things as naturally as possible (yes, I did use crystal deodorant for a while and no, it did not work). Also, because I’ve known that, for me, facing off the pain has been a rich source of personal growth if I allow myself to go to it’s depths, understand it and move through it (sometimes I do this more effectively than others). For me, the arrival of the black k9 is telling me something is out of balance – be it within my mind, body, spirit, direction, relationships, environment or a cloudy cocktail of them all. In saying this, I am rapt to hear when people find anti-depressants positively life altering as the paralysis inflicted on their mind is ceases to be. Release is wonderful! A fellow Melbournian, Mark Pacitti has exuberantly and articulately documented his brave break-throughs with the aide of anti-depressants in his blog and generated excellent awareness around the dis-ease.

As you may know, when experiencing a bout of depression, among other things, the colour drains out of everything. I liken the difference between taking medication for depression and not to the difference between the old and new processes of colourising black and white movies. The old process is tedious – you have to work on the movie (your life) frame by frame, adding the colours one at a time to each part of each individual frame. It is initially slower and a lot of work – but you can really gain great awareness and shift major life-blockages quite effectively with the motivation of your limited colour palette gradually being remedied. Sometimes you miss a frame and you have to go back, but boy do you get to know yourself inside-out. ;0)

The new process of colourisation (medication) uses technology to speed things up. You scan your film (life) into a computer (a balanced chemical filter), it shows each frame clearly on the screen, you direct the outline for each area that needs colour and the computer fills it in. The essential thing is that you still take an active role in outlining what the medication is remedying. Obviously the later method is more efficient, especially if you have a lot of footage to cover, the weight of responsibility and you don’t have the luxury of time to process things completely manually. Someone once described anti-depressants to me as being like a crutch for your mind while it mends – just like when you break your leg; the ultimate goal being that you gradually ditch the crutch and work through the residual pain until you have full usage again. This may not be possible for some of us, as Rob Delaney highlights with his experience of clinical depression, but it is the ideal result for many of your garden variety depressions.

Either mending or using a limb or a mind that has been ‘damaged’ requires extra care; strategies to make and keep them vital. Over the next two weeks, I will be posting a series on some of my personal tried and tested natural remedies for dealing with depression and creating balance.

So if you’re not feeling so ‘okay’, come and ride it out with me.

**Please, if you are experiencing symptoms of depression, contact your GP and/or a mental health professional for a clinical diagnosis. If it’s urgent, please google for a hotline in your area and chat it through with someone who cares.