“People think depression is sadness, crying or dressing in black. But people are wrong. Depression is the constant feeling of being numb. You wake up in the morning just to go back to bed again”
How often do you use the sentences, “I’m depressed” or “I feel depressed” when describing a period of down time in conversations between you and other people? We tend to find we use those phrases when feelings of sadness or boredom take over, but when you look a little closer it isn’t always depression we experience at that moment yet we have become accustomed in identifying our sombre feelings with depression. There are different types of depression, where there are some considered to be mild and short-term whilst others can be severe, and detrimental to a persons well-being especially if suicidal thoughts are at play. The more severe, clinical depression episodes may not always be so easily overcome through self-help methods as there could be other factors contributing to the individuals depressed state such as a chemical imbalance, genetic inheritance and the life events a person may be experiencing at the time.
There are steps we can take to improve our mind health, which we can use almost immediately, some may take a period of time to incorporate into our daily lives, nevertheless we persist in striving for the peace we deserve.
Getting out of our head
Remember when you were a child and life always seemed warm and sunny, you laughed and smiled often, the grass always seemed green and the sky always seemed so bright and blue? We need to get back to that place of peace and serenity. Quite often when we find ourselves stuck in a dark place or over thinking life we have completely forgotten what joy can be found in simply living. We forget that though the chains of life’s mundane responsibilities hold us, we are still free to get up at any moment and do something we once enjoyed.
With age, we undoubtedly gain responsibilities which can be the cause of our depression. Whether it is linked to financial burdens, employment, our health, the relationships we have with friends, family or partners. Being wrapped in a cocoon of responsibilities and the thoughts of “all the things we have to do” we forget about anything else that makes us feel good and instead we take our lives so serious we compromise our health. We can’t run from our duties but we can definitely reduce the stress they cause by how we choose to view them.
Getting out of your head, and paying attention to the physical world helps us to keep that connection we desperately need when we feel out of touch with mind, body and environment. We can spend days, weeks and months sitting in the same chair in our house, at the same time each day, watching the same TV show, eating the same meal, we can spend time thinking of “that thing that could happen to tomorrow but probably never will” and we could even spend the time feeling the same feeling we have felt for a while. Or we can choose not to do those things. We can choose change.
It isn’t as straight forward to change suddenly one day. But think about this, if something you currently do in your day isn’t helping you to feel any different why continue to follow the same routine?
It is time to live outside of your head, it is time to stop telling yourself “I can’t get out of bed” or “I can’t eat that meal” – you don’t have to do those things but what you can do is one thing that is at least different in the day, whether you opened your curtains and went back to bed or decided to sleep on the opposite side of the bed for once, remind your brain that you are still alive by changing your usual routine and habits. You are with your thoughts forever, learning how to control your mind and what you choose to think about can only be achieved by you alone, regardless.
Uncovering the hurt
What has happened lately for you to feel the way you do? Ask yourself this question. Healing is a process that can last for a while as we tend to avoid finding the peace we need inside as we have become so use to the thoughts and feelings we have in our heart and mind. Some people, as strange as it sounds can find a sense of familiarity with their pain therefore they choose not to remove it. To uncover issues you may have, but not really understanding why they exist ask yourself these questions;
- Why do I feel the way I do today?
- How long have I been feeling this way?
- Are my feelings due to another person or event that has occurred?
- Is the pain/hurt/anger likely to occur again from this person or event?
- If yes, why will it happen again?
- Why am I allowing it to happen again?
- When is this feeling likely to end?
- Do I have control on when this feeling ends?
- What do I need right now to feel better?
- Is what I need, achievable?
- If not, why?
- What one thing could I do today or tomorrow that is achievable to show myself that I care enough about being myself again?
- What do I think about mostly and why?
- Could I choose to think about something else?
If the one thing that you do differently in your day is finding the strength to answer these questions on paper or in your notebook, please do so. See the time as you beginning your journey to discovering and repairing yourself.
Where are your good places?
Your good place could be your “safe space” the things or areas in your life that you are happy and thankful for. We can stop our anxiety or depression when we remember the things that make us feel good, even in the slightest way. Think of three things to be grateful for before getting out of bed in the morning, consider at least three things you were grateful for that occurred yesterday or even the week gone by. It can be small things that you were grateful for. For example, yesterday if you were rushing for work or the school run perhaps there was a set of consecutive green traffic lights that helped aid your journey. Think about your morning routine, from waking up in a warm bed, walking to the bathroom, taking a hot shower, able to wash your hair, using a hair dryer, walking down stairs to use the microwave or toaster, to run fresh, clean water from a tap. These are everyday necessities that help us with our daily routine, yet there are times we forget to be thankful for these basic resources.
When considering things to be grateful for think about:
- Anything that has happened lately that made you happy – no matter how small, show some gratitude towards it
- Any aspect of your daily routine that helps to create comfort and ease – such as being able to bathe when you want, eat and drink when you want, to get into a clean bed when you please
- Think of your able body; the body that enables you to walk, jump, run or skip. The body that keeps on supporting you even when your mind gives up.
Don’t forget to keep a journal the same way you may keep a Bible or anything else that is sacred to you. A journal helps to document your thoughts as the day passes. I take a journal with me everywhere I go, mostly when I get new ideas for my book but also as something occurs that I am thankful for I can write it down before I forget. To be able to reflect in between life events that occur is healthy for your well-being as often when we experience negative situations we tend to think of this for a long time which means we forget to live presently also we miss the opportunities to be happy for our positive experiences.
Feelings are not facts
What you tell yourself isn’t a fact. Most of our self-talk or thoughts linked to depression are not our reality until we make it our reality. When we tell ourselves “i’m depressed” we are more likely to then become depressed as we prevent ourselves from looking for an alternative way to think or to be. How you feel today is not ever lasting, things and feelings are not guaranteed. Remind yourself that at one point you felt “normal” you felt good, happy, alive. Remind yourself that you will feel that way again, maybe not tomorrow but eventually you will even if it takes another month to get back to your place of peace. Slow progress is better than no progress.