One of the things that make depression very difficult to deal with is the fact that it’s hard to remember feelings and emotional states. When I think back to how I was years ago I often wonder if I’ve really improved at all, or if I’m just limping along at the same old pace and keeping my head above the water. I mean, I feel good now, but I had highs and lows back then too. How much have I really improved.
This goes the same for noticing when things have gotten worse too. It’s hard to realise that there was a time when the depression didn’t seem so overwhelming. It’s hard to see that it’s even possible for things to be clearer and more positive.
Feelings are hard to capture.
One of the ways of dealing with this is to keep track of solid things that can give indications of your mental state. Keep track of how many activities you take part in and enjoy. Keep track of your appetite. Keep track of negative habits, self harming, panic attacks…
If you can’t remember the emotions then look for the external clues of those emotions. Look at yourself as an outsider, and use the same techniques for figuring out your moods as you would for a friend or family member.
Another way is to look to those close to you. Often they’ll have a far better idea than you do of how your moods have been progressing. A friend of mine recently commented on how long it had been since I ended up on her sofa crying. I hadn’t even noticed. In fact, I barely remembered the days when that used to happen regularly.
Most useful, though, is to try to record how you’re feeling *when* you’re feeling it. Keep a diary. Draw pictures. Write poems. Even just write bitchy rants to get feelings off your chest. Not only will they help you to sort out your feelings there and then, but if you keep them then they’ll give you valuable insights into how you’ve been in the past. If you’ve gotten worse then they can remind you of how things were, and how good they can be again when you’ve gotten through this. If you’ve gotten better then they can reassure you of your progress, and that you’re really getting somewhere.
It’s easy not to notice how much you’re changing, and how far you’ve come, but when you do notice it can give so much perspective!