Saturday, January 3, 2009

Fighting Back the Wolves

Depression is a pack hunter.

It seldomly sends only one enemy at a time to nip at your heels. Instead it deploys scouts that will distract; then flankers that will harass; then finally attackers that will overpower and immobilize so that the entire pack can tear away and eat your flesh at their leisure. Like a wolf pack whose empty bellies drives them to surround a wayward elk, depression lurks and waits for the right opportunity to have its fill.

This is why I have often called depression an encroachment of the soul. The edges close in, the borders constrict and escape seems more elusive with each passing moment. This can feed upon itself too. When one side closes in, it makes the other side seem closer as well. The natural reaction to this can often be crippling despair.

The following is an example of how this can play out:

-I procrastinated in performing task A, so why do I think I could perform task B?
-Task B is likely beyond me, so why should I think myself deserving of reward C?
-If reward C is unlikely, what is the point of applying effort level D?

Therefore the temptation is to sit on the couch and watch television programs you’re not really interested in to kill time you could be spending on accomplishing your goals, but would rather not get your hopes up if they’re going to be dashed on the rocks of under-achieving reality. The internal conversation that started then with “I’ll never amount to anything, so I might as well sit and watch TV all day,” later ends with “I’m a loser for sitting on my butt and watching TV all day...I’ll never amount to anything.”

The elk sees the wolves approach so it charges a little to the right and to the left, but can’t commit to any direction. The escape routes seem increasingly cut off so the elk spins around in panicking despair. After the first or second wolf has gotten them down, resignation sets in and life slowly passes out of the animal while the pack satisfies their stomach.

For me, the wolves take the form of past failures and under-achievements. They look like prophesies of future disappointment, or current character flaws. The wolves approach and attempt to convince me that efforts toward pending benchmarks are futile. They hiss forth all the ways I fall short from behind their white teeth. The yellow eyes glare into my soul and examine my unworthiness of success. Man, it’s hard to keep track of them all to keep them at bay. How encroaching is the fear that the wolves will get through and paralyze me with fear.

One wolf that holds back and watches, waiting for his turn, is the beast that fears what people will think if they know I don’t have it altogether. This one is particularly conniving, for it succeeds by merely convincing me to fear what others think. As I fight off the wolf pack, I look over my shoulder to make sure the rest of the herd doesn’t see me fighting.

1 comment:

Alan said...

I love reading your blogs. You have an incredible way of helping me begin to understand something that I have never experienced myself. Thank you.