Depression: It’s like an ice storm

In honour of a winter that is very slowly coming to an end, I wanted to write a post that I’ve been meaning to write since Christmas.

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This winter I realized that there are many similarities between an ice storm and depression. I’ve lived through a few nasty ice storms, both in real life and metaphorically.

An ice storm is steady persistent rain that occurs on a winter day when the temperature hovers around the freezing point. After weeks of cold, subzero temperatures, it can seem like a bit of relief. But then the ice starts to accumulate.

Slowly but surely, ice begins to form on tree branches, telephone wires, and other vulnerable things. It is the same with depression. What may first have been a thin protective layer slowly thickens.

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At first it is beautiful. The sparkling ice on the trees looks like crystal in a winter wonderland. In the same way, many people with depression form beautiful masks that they show the world. It makes it difficult to realize the underlying dangers.

But centimetre by centimetre, inch by inch, the ice on each branch thickens as more and more storms rain down upon the trees.

Some trees weather the storm well. They balance the ice without apparent difficulty, staying straight and strong. But most trees slowly become weighed down. Branches begin to bend under the weight. Depression can also strikes like this. Stress after stress and trauma after trauma accumulates. You keep your mask fixed as best you can, but struggle under more and more burdens.

The danger to the trees is hidden under a sparkly facade. In the same way, the mask of a depressed person makes it seem like everything is okay.

Then comes the crisis. In an ice storm, most trees do one of two things: they bend or they crack. Sometimes you can stay strong for a long time, bend with the pressures life throws at you. But there comes a point where the weight becomes too much. Like the branches, you may crack and experience a major depressive breakdown.

When the cracks start, they are fierce and startling. A branch, coated in ice thicker and heavier than itself, snaps under the heavy strain. It is pure destruction. There is nothing the tree can do. The burdens are just too heavy.

A major depressive breakdown can seem just as inevitable, the immediate impact on a person’s life just as destructive.

But seasons change and life goes on. Freed of its icy burdens, in spring a tree regrows. It may have lost some branches and others may be forever changed. But the tree continues on in its new shape and form.

It may take longer than one season, but I think that depressed people can also find their way free of their burdens.

I was fascinated by the ice storm and it’s effects. I was very curious about which trees weathered the storm best. The softwoods bent dramatically under the weight, while the hardwoods snapped most strongly. It seemed to be woods that were strong yet flexible that were able to meet the storm and hold their own.

Spring is arriving and I’m shedding my layers of ice. I hope now to nurture that combination of strength and flexibility that will allow me to weather any new storms.

DBH xx

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Taking Stock

1. I am stressed. I feel it building. My psoriasis is acting up. I need to address this. The reasons, I think, are financial, the pressures of my course and the general lack of long term stability in my life.

2. Tomorrow I have my first day off in weeks! Yay!

3. I readjusted my priorities this week, but as a result I succeeded in going to neither yoga nor the gym.

4. Though I have this weekend “off” I have important things to do: prepare my first yoga class and also prepare for a work-related test.

5. Allergies have been plaguing me this week. To the point where my colleagues are concerned. I think I am susceptible because I am run down.

6. I have perfect attendance at work and everyone is happy with my work. There were a few days this week where I didn’t want to go to work as I was run down, but I quickly overcame the temptation. This is a major improvement.

7. I’ve been trying to take care of myself this week and get more sleep, but I’m still frequently tired. I’ve relied on caffeine. Haven’t been able to watch a full movie.

8. I’m worried that I’ll go off track this weekend. Follow my old pattern of getting stressed and staying in bed and not doing anything productive to help with my assignments and my studying.

9. I’m afraid that I’m nearing the end of a job competition and may come to the point where I don’t get yet another job. I really need that feeling of security you get from a long term job with benefits.

10. I’m feeling guilty for being a financial burden on my parents now that new unexpected bills have cropped up.

11. I’m feeling close to people in my training program but like I’m losing touch with my friends.

12. I feel really fat and I’m frustrated that something is holding me back from going to the gym.

13. The tension in my jaws has been frequent this week.

14. I hope to stay/get back on track this weekend.

15. Daylight savings time begins this weekend. I’m not looking forward to losing an hour of sleep. But I’m really looking forward to there being sun later in the day. Bring on spring! I’m so done with snow and subzero temperatures!