'Continuous movement in depression'
The first step is "massively heavy". Continuous movement in depression.
During depression, the body-mind system feels as if in slow motion, and gradually stops to move, to feel, to sense, and to act. The brain freezes and suspends in negative thinking, and it may not make the active work as well as send any stimulus to the body. The person may be out of touch, in a state of inertia.
Today there are a vast amount of resources on how to treat depression. Articles explain what is the best therapy and medication for this complex condition. However, how can a depressed person make this first step towards finding a way to feel a little better? How can the client get out of this dark place and reach for counselling?
The first step in depression is "massively heavy". To pick yourself up from the bed, to make a move and then make another move, to keep trying to make something to stimulate the brain, feel a little lighter and a little less negative, to leave the house or find a strength to begin working on improvement. This can be a massive effort and can even be threatening.
The mind does not respond to reasonable talking that usually conditions to be strong and committed to the therapeutic process. At this stage, the mind is as if covered with soundproof cloth or in a bleak loop.
The body loses its mobility and feels increasingly heavier, and the spine bends forward, like a bow, towards the floor. Shoulders shrink, the pelvis gets stiffer and legs stay crossed or close to each other. The body carries the depression.
So, what can be done to help to make this first step?
Something to try is to move continuously. Making a movement even if it’s pointless, for instance turning from one side to another repeatedly when in bed, moving one leg up, putting it down, moving another leg up, and putting it down. Play with a t-shirt, take it off and put it back on again. Make steps in bed, when lying on the floor, or sitting on the chair. Roll, crawl or slide. Moving continuously, slowly, and pointlessly will stimulate the brain to regulate neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and galanin, and increase body temperature. Try stretching, spinning, making circles with the pelvis, drawing shapes in the air with your hands and legs. Yawn, take deep breaths and notice chest movements. Stretch any available fabrics, throw a pillow, sit down and stand up. Shaking movements or massaging muscles may have a cleansing effect on the inactive mind and at the same time connects with felt sense in the body.
Making this "massively heavy" first step in healing from depression can begin from just moving slowly, pointlessly, without thinking, arranging, or organising. Continuous movement unhurriedly releases trapped energy, hence freeing the body from its inertness, leading into further directions in searching for solutions in treating depression.
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About Justyna Isobel Matejek
Justyna Isobel Matejek BA(Hons) MBACP, Counsellor and Body-Mind Therapist. Working with mind and the body holistically. Specialised in depression and anxiety-related psychosomatic conditions.
"BMC" Bodymind Counselling: www.bodymindcounselling.co.uk