I left the blogosphere for a number of weeks recently due to some unexpected health problems, and I'm very, very pleased to be back. I'm also relieved that my problems were not of the mental/brain variety -- not only are those every bit as miserable, in my experience, but they are my personal nemesis, my challenge, my dark hole. No, I had gall bladder problems, including some complications, hospital time, and surgery. And I'm fine now.
All of this got me to thinking. . . what pulls you through when you are ill with mental/brain or other physical illness? I was blessed to have a supportive husband and insurance that covered most of the expenses, and I lucked into good doctors in the hospital and the OR. But I realized too that, despite a lot of pain, I wasn't as flustered as the staff seemed to think I'd be. The thing that left me on an even keel was all the depression, psychosis and suicidal times I've been through. I know what pain feels like. I have gotten through before, and I'll do it again. Mental illness has toughened me.
Play with this. . .
Writing continuously for at least 20 minutes total, describe a time you felt seriously ill in any way. Then describe what treatments, people, creative outlets, past experiences, rituals, mind-sets or other factors helped you through. Did you just need a certain amount of time to heal? Did hope or sheer determination help?
Finally, how can you apply these tools the next time you feel significantly depressed? It may be useful to keep a list of these resources in the back of your notebook or another safe place to refer to later. When you need such a tool, write about it for 10 minutes first to remind yourself how it feels, reengage with it, and plan how to put it to its best use.