Swimming (the confrontation phase) 

Once your feelings are starting to return, even if just a little, and you have a picture in your head of the way you want to live your life differently, it’s time to start swimming into shore.  The swimming phase is where the most difficult work takes place.  It’s when you start to directly confront the issues that led you to this point.  Some of them may have been your fault and some of them completely out of your control.  It’s not about assigning blame, although admitting what you could have done better is very healthy. It’s really about figuring out what needs to be done to overcome these obstacles.  It won’t be a full swim into shore right away.  Start with kicking in the right direction while still holding your life preserver.

The initial kicks will involve listening to loved ones and trusted counselors about what needs to change.  It should also involve reading books and high quality internet publications.  If you’re not gathering information you’re doing yourself a great disservice.  Continuing to go to a small group is so helpful, and inside your group your conversation should start to shift away from focusing on your healing towards the future and what changes you should make. 

After those initial kicks, it’s time to start putting advice into practice in order to really get moving towards the shore.  This might involve simply admitting mistakes to yourself and loved ones.  It may involve something more drastic though like changing your friend group, not going to places you’ve always gone, or finally going to places that you’ve needed to go but never wanted to.  It will almost certainly involve challenging the way you think.  You’ll need to learn to recognize and challenge bad thought patterns while also creating new, healthy ones.  With a lot of help from loved ones and maybe a therapist, you might have to face painful memories you've been avoiding.

Waiting until this point to start analyzing your situation I think is the best plan, but still be aware of the dangers of over analysis.  Depression always wants to plunge us back into the drowning phase where our minds are flooded with negative thoughts and fears.  You’re starting the process of facing negative issues, but still in a gentle way with lots of breaks and rest.  You’re still not at full strength, and even when you are fully healthy falling into beating yourself up and negative thoughts about the future is never helpful.  So go easy on yourself.  Remember that you’re facing these issues not only because you don’t want the past to repeat itself but also because there are good things in store for your future.    

Restoration Phase →