DEPRESSION

How I survived the dreaded class reunion

Oh, no!

Today is the day.

The first (my husband’s) of two reunions (mine two months).  We’ve never been to one. We’ve always said if we wanted to see these people  before this, we would have.

class reunions

class reunions

We’ve tempered our thinking a bit and have decided there were some people we would’ve remained friends with had distance not separated us. We’re hoping they will be there.

We have no idea what to expect.  Will the snobs still be snobs or will life have taught them some needed lessons?  Will the homecoming queen still look “queenly” or will the years have robbed her of her good looks?  Will those who were “most likely to succeed” have succeeded or not?

The biggest question, why does any of this matter anyway?

When I think about it, I wonder if I’ve matured at all if I’m worried about the impression I’ll make.

class reunion

class reunion

Really, haven’t I dealt with bigger issues by now than worrying about a high school reunion?  And yet I’ve shopped all week looking for the perfect outfit-casual but classy.  (By the way, I’ve found it. T J Maxx is getting weary of the buying and returning.)

I guess the reason some of it matters is because all the people will be about the same age so naturally there’s that comparison thing going on. Have I put on too much weight? (I haven’t.) Is my hair the right style?  (Yep. I’ve colored my hair since I was sixteen and gave it up about five years ago.  It’s a really wonderful color-who knew?)

But what if someone asks me what I’ve accomplished, what will I answer? I ask myself, have I done the things I wanted to do? Have I realized some of my dreams?

accomplishing our dreams

accomplishing our dreams

In many ways I have but not in the way most people would think. Most of my accomplishments don’t involve money, success or celebrity. But in all the ways that matter, I’ve accomplished more than I would have thought possible considering the messed-up, depressed teen-ager I once was.

Now that I’ve written it down I wonder why I ever was nervous. This is only three or four hours out of the 4,380 twelve-hour days a year. Really?  I don’t even have to stay if I don’t want to.  So having got it all out of my system, I’m feeling better.

Perhaps I’m feeling better because of something I picked up in my research on depression. It’s called “acting as if”.  It’s a valid therapy technique and very helpful in dealing with certain areas in our lives. (like high school reunions)  It sounds contrived and fake but done in the right way and for the right reasons, it isn’t.

An example that readily comes to mind and which will prove very helpful for me tonight is the art of walking into a room. I don’t like large social functions, mostly because of the initial act of walking into the room. But if can walk into a room and act confident, I trick my mind into thinking I am just that.

Consequently I quit shaking, my hands quit sweating and my heart stops racing. I can talk to people without being self-conscious.

“Acting as if” might sound very artificial and even dishonest but it isn’t really. 

Barbara Streisand has stated that she is terrified every time she gives a concert. Barbara Streisand! But she does exactly what I do. She “acts as if” she isn’t afraid by walking on stage acting every bit the star that she is. Let me ask you, have you ever noticed her fear? No, because she’s acting as if she isn’t afraid and that process somehow rewires her brain into making her think she is confident. Thus her body and her voice respond to this message because the brain doesn’t know how to distinguish between the truth and a lie.

Acting-as-if

Acting-as-if

“Acting as if” is NOT a method to use to fool anyone or cause anyone any harm. It’s simply a way for you to find success in some situations that are important to you and have caused you problems in the past.  It isn’t always successful.  For example, I can “act as if” I’m a ballet dancer all I want and I’m never going to be a ballet dancer.  I might be more graceful but that’s about it.

What about you?

Is there an area in your life where this technique might work for you?  When I started to push depression back into its dark hole, this was a technique I used where it made sense. The more I acted like a person who wasn’t depressed the less depressed I was. (There were many, many other techniques I used which I will post about through this blog. I don’t want you to think that this one technique alone is going to change everything for you overnight. I wish depression was that easy to give the old heave-ho to.)

There’s so much more I could share with you but this post is way too long as it is. I promise that soon, I’ll be sharing much more about how you can beat depression or at least manage it.

Is there a simple area in your life you could try this “acting as if” approach? It might take a number of times before you figure out just how it works. It’s not easily explained in something as brief as a post.

God bless and have a good day.

Come back next week. I’ll post about how it went.