I was walking through the hills of the Berkshires with a psychologist friend recently and we got to talking about what it takes to keep going in life. When things get difficult and you can’t find your way. How is it that some people seem to persevere and others wither away in their distress?
We came to the conclusion that it’s important to just stay in the game. To not give up on yourself or life, no matter what befalls you. Those who seem to thrive are those who are engaged in what’s going on around them. It might not exactly be their choice, it might be difficult to do, but they pull themselves together and do it.
You can’t take a step forward if you are not involved in the game, if your choice is to sit on the sidelines of your life and do nothing. This is as true is sports as it is in life. You will not have success in your goals and dreams under those circumstances. But it's really hard to do when you're depressed, in the midst of a mood disorder.
If you stay in the game, you at least have a chance to accomplish what you’re after. It might not be exactly what you desired in some ways, but it will be close, a good alternative that is acceptable to you. This might be success in a job or school, a relationship, or achieving wellness and managing your illness. You can never know what will happen unless you give yourself a chance, unless you try! For example, I have a refractory case of severe depression. I also have a very clever psycho-pharmacologist who occasionally appeals to my sense of intellectual curiosity in recommending a new treatment by saying “Aren’t you just a little bit curious to see if this might work? How it might work? To see the outcome?” and I would buy into it and agree to try.
Staying in the game is not easy. When things get tough it’s far easier to withdraw and let life pass you by. Easier to be passive and noncommittal, stay under the covers. When you’re depressed, on the margins of life, being involved is the last thing you want to think of. Staying in the game requires that you be an active participant in some way. That you do something along the lines of helping yourself, even at times when you’re depressed and you don’t want to do anything. This is the time when “action precedes motivation,” when you have to take the first step before having any desire or motivation to do so. You have to believe and trust that this will come later. Staying in the game means that you don’t quit when things get tough, that you stick with it and problem solve and find ways to continue on.
If you give yourself a chance, keep trying and just stay in the game the rewards will be surprising. I believe you can do it!