Be with People

The Bible encourages us to be with others and science backs that up as it is generally known that people who fell cared for and loved are healthier and happier. And we all know how isolation is a lonely place.

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While I don’t do as much as I did before Tyler died, I’m trying to make an effort to get out of the house. As much as I hate doing it, human contact always lifts my mood. I want to be able to help other people as well, so maybe some days I lift someone else’s mood just by being with them.

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When I stay at home by myself, I find my depression is worse. And it’s a catch-22 because I don’t want to do anything, yet I can’t stand living in my own head all the time! On one hand I don’t have the energy to go anywhere or do anything yet on the other hand I am bored with myself!

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My therapist prescribes “Opposite Action.” She tells me that the times I don’t want to do something is the time to do it! Opposite Action is a coping skill in DBT’s (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) Emotion Regulation module, but it has a lot to do with our ability to interact socially. There are many different reasons for not wanting to do something, but if you look at why, you would probably find a specific emotion behind your lethargy.
I am usually pretty happy to do things with my husband, but of course he works full-time which leaves me by myself for several hours a week. My husband and I plan things to do on weekends and sometimes week nights. I feel comfortable with him, with his support and strength. On my own I feel disconnected.

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To do Opposite Action I first took a hard look at why I don’t want to go anywhere and came up with depression, of course, but DBT says to name the emotion. Is depression an emotion? It’s definitely a mental illness, but what is the emotion that is holding me back? What do I feel? Insecurity without my husband to lean on. Disappointment in myself for being so weak. Hopelessness that I won’t ever be able to have a job again because I can’t go to it.

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These are sadness words. So I guess my overall emotion is sadness. DBT then tells us to “Check the Facts” by asking ourselves whether an emotion intensity and duration fits. Yes, in the context of my son’s death I am sad, but in the context of going to a meeting or church, sadness is not the culprit- it’s fear of being stuck somewhere that I don’t want to be.

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This fear creates the “Action Urge” of my wanting to hang around the house instead of going out somewhere. My urge is to wander around the house and yard aimlessly waiting for something to peak my interest that I might like to do. The urge is to stay in depression rather than get up and do something.

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The next step is to ask Wise Mind (God) whether acting on this urge is effective or not. I know it’s not! Inactivity is a depression maintaining behavior so of course it’s not effective! I know that God doesn’t want me to be depressed and do nothing. His word calls for me to be with others- in community. To focus less on myself and more on helping someone else.

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This is where I pray. I pray to have the Lord show me what I can do to help someone else. I pray for god to give me the courage to step out and commune with others- to put someone in my path that needs me. Maybe it’s a clerk at a store that needs a bright smile and kindness or maybe God will match my steps with someone I know who invites me to do something or asks for my help.

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It is up to me to identify what the opposite action will be. I don’t want to leave the house, so I might go for a walk around the neighborhood. I don’t want to go volunteering but I go anyway. And when I do this opposite action, DBT tells me to do it “all the way” fully participating, and to keep doing it until my action urge goes away.

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Often times I feel better after I have done something. The meeting wasn’t so bad and I enjoyed being with people. The walk was beautiful and the wieners found all kinds of fun stuff in the park. The clerk at the store was thoughtful and pleasant.

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My relationship with others has improved since stepping out a bit, but I have a long way to go with it. I can do this with God’s help and my supportive family!

“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5

One thought on “Be with People

  1. I’ve enjoyed all of your blog post so far, but this one really stands out to me. I guess it’s exactly what I needed to hear! I’m going to save it so that I can return to it again and again for the wisdom and support you offer. Thank you!

    Like

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