My therapist has me working through The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression: A Step-by-Step Program by William Knaus, and the second chapter we went over today brought out my creativity.
Knaus had me describing depression through metaphors, allegories, similes, and then writing two poems. I’ll share the metaphors, allegories and similes first.
For each, the workbook has you explain what depression is like through those ideas, and then do a counter-positive version.
As a metaphor, I see depression as falling into a bottomless well, but without the sensation of falling. Because depression isn’t like that sensation. Instead, it’s the dread of knowing there is no bottom and that it can always, and seems like it will always, get worse. So, the counter-positive metaphor would be using the tools of the workbook to manage depression to craft a backpack with a parachute to finally land on my two feet.
The simile for depression is that depression is like drinking black coffee. My apologies to fans of black coffee, but blargh. The counter-positive simile there is for me to simply imagine adding cream to my cup of depression coffee.
On the allegory front, I’ve always likened life and depression to that of Sisyphus, who was condemned to forever roll a boulder up a hill. But cognitive behavioral therapy is all about reframing and redirecting our brain, so what if instead, as my therapist suggested, I begin rolling the boulder down the hill? As I become more adept at utilizing these tools, coming down the hill becomes easier and easier.
Finally, the last exercise was to create a depression-reflected poem and then its opposite, a positive one. Here they are.
i was locked in a world
of funhouse mirrors
seeing myself in
black and greys as
down the mirrors
puddling into a
threatening to drown
I found the light switch
at the funhouse; my spiked
red hair danced on the many
mirrors, radiant, vibrant
I smiled, noticing the mirror-
writing of the word, “Exit,”
behind my head. I turned
and pushed through.
I was particularly proud of myself because I didn’t want to read these poems to my therapist, but I relented and did. Rough draft and all. So, I’m going to share them here, rough draft and all, as well.