When you are depressed you become prey: your body switches into the mode that would allow you to escape from danger even though there may be no danger there. Before I suffered from depression I thought the body dealt with danger by running or fighting: it does but there is a preliminary stage. Long before the Black Dog I lived with a brown rabbit. He taught us many lessons, not least that a rabbit who smells peanut butter will stop at NOTHING to reach it. At heart, he was somebody’s dinner and, plump and comfortable though he undoubtedly became, he never forgot it. In his pampered life he had never once encountered a bird of prey but would still freeze if you hovered your hand above his head. (I know, we hate ourselves too.) But that instinctive freeze… that’s the stage before fighting and fleeing, the brief cringe that lets the rabbit check out the danger and decide if there’s time to run or if fighting is the only option. And that’s where I seem to be stuck – permanently crouched, ready to act but not actually acting, cringing and fearing the worst. I keep telling myself everything is fine, but I don’t think I am listening.
So today I asked my body to tell my head we don’t need to stay crouched, that it’s ok to stand up again and take a leisurely look around. I went to a Body Balance class for an hour of stretching – throwing my arms skywards, swinging my whole body forwards with abandon, standing with arms and feet planted as wide as they comfortably go, lying stretched out on the floor thinking about nothing, letting go. Breathing in steady rhythm instead of catching my breath. Devoting my attention to following movements and music instead of trying to untangle my thoughts. And enjoying the awareness of a whole roomful of other people following the same rhythm. Feeling part of something outside the peculiar twilit world inside my head. Thanks, body.