Many people suffering from depression have discovered that they usually feel worse in the morning, a symptom usually associated with severe depression. This was my case as well, as we can see from the following diary entry:
28th Feb 1990
In the mornings, I always feel disgusting
Not bad, not guilty, not unclean, but disgusting, unsettled, disturbed.
And the degree to which I feel disturbed varies throughout each day.
This was written two months into severe depression. The worst phase of depression, where I did nothing but lay on my bed and churn over obsessive fearful thoughts, had passed. But this next phase was not that much of an improvement, and was still accompanied by this disgusting morning feeling.
I would wake from a fitful, sometimes nightmare filled sleep, only to be disappointed to find that I felt worse than I did the night before. This is a strange and unsettling experience, as you would expect to feel better after a night’s sleep, but with depression, that is typically not the case. Anxiety levels may be elevated when we wake, and we may even wake with fearful thoughts already churning through our mind. In fact, I often found myself debating my fears in my dreams, and waking merely brought those fears into conscious thought.
Even when we are well on the road to recovery, have regained hope, and are beginning to have good days, it is still common to wake in the morning and feel so bad that we wonder if we really are improving at all.
In ‘Self Help for Your Nerves,’ Doctor Claire Weekes has a whole chapter devoted to this issue, called ‘That Dreaded Morning Feeling.’ She shares, ‘It is strange how the morning has this disconcerting habit of apparently paying little regard to the improvement of the day before. People are disappointed and bewildered when, after going to bed fairly cheerful, they wake the next morning to find the same old heart of lead, the same depression, the same churning stomach, the same difficulty in facing the day...” (1)
The temptation when waking is to stay in bed and rest until we feel better and feel more able to face the day.
However, this is not the best course of action. Although upon waking we may feel disturbed and exhausted and do not feel like moving, that is exactly what we need to do. We need to get out of bed when we wake, shower, dress, have breakfast (preferably with other family members), and then get outside for a gentle walk in the fresh air. As we walk, it is a wonderful opportunity to chat away to Jesus and fellowship with Him, even if we cannot feel His presence like we used to. We should also reflect upon Bible verses that provide encouragement and tell us of His faithfulness.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
The activity of getting up and preparing for the day, and going for a walk combined with fresh air can bring relief to our troubled, weary mind, revitalise our exhausted body, and gently pushes away that terrible, disgusting morning feeling. Then we will be ready to face the day and do the things that need doing.
In contrast, had we stayed in bed, that disgusting morning feeling lingers much, much longer, and fearful thoughts also have a free run to keep assailing us.
(1) ‘Self Help for Your Nerves,’ Doctor Claire Weekes, Angus & Robertston Publishers, 1989, p105.