I woke up this morning gripped firmly in the vise of depression. The minute I opened my eyes, I felt the weight of negative thinking pressing hard on me: “I will never again have my life back as I knew it.”
Sure, since my total relapse a couple of months ago thanks to a new tick bite, I’ve improved drastically. But still, on a good day I can manage only one or two activities—and manage is the key word. The rest of the day is an interminable stretch I try to fill with reading, movies, and rest enough to keep the pain at a tolerable level.
I miss walking, running, biking, hiking, traveling, shopping, visiting my kids, cooking wonderful meals, visiting friends, volunteering in my community. Not to mention working. I’m not always able to be positive about my slow but steady improvement.
Fear that I’ll hit a plateau weighs me down. But I’ve learned I can help myself by sticking to this anti-depression strategy: enjoy one social encounter a day.
Last winter when I was housebound with lyme, I was extremely isolated. This time around, I’ve learned to call on friends. Not just for grocery store runs or a ride to the doctor, but for perhaps the most essential thing of all: their cheering company.
My goal is to put one social interaction on the calendar each day, whether it’s a five-minute phone visit or an actual coffee date. I no longer care that my house is a mess, that I myself am less than scintillating company, or that I might be receiving guests wearing my PJs. I just need that little daily dose of company.
In fact, I have to go now — I just saw my neighbor Tom heading out to get his newspaper with his dog Bella, my dog Mo’s best canine friend. So I’m grabbing the chance to let the dogs run in happy circles for the five minutes or so that I can stand there while I exchange a few words with Tom.
That’s part of the strategy: be spontaneous, and open to spur-of-the-moment opportunities to connect with another human being. I’ve found that those brief, early morning meetings with the four of us in the driveway have the power to reset my emotions for the entire day.
And that makes an encounter a day worth pursuing.