(continuing from Part 1)
How to handle depression
Disclaimer: I am not a Psychologist and I have no training whatsoever in Psychology. I am not an expert at all. My advice on how to handle depression is based on my own personal experience and must not replace a professional medical advice and/or treatment. Depression is a mental illness and must be treated by medical practitioners and perhaps psychologists if psychiatrists are not necessary.
I recognize the value of “faking it until you make it”. I do not discount that it helps to choose happiness. I acknowledge that the mind is a powerful thing. I have read The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy and loved it. However, whatever coping mechanism any of us chooses to deal with depression, it is important to identify the root cause of the problem and fix it.
I know now that the following will only produce lasting results if I simultaneously work on eradicating the problem. I can treat the symptomatic headache with a pain-killer but I must also take an antibiotic to get rid of sinusitis or whatever “itis” I’m suffering from.
If you can, move to a new home/town
This may apply more to depression caused by a specific person or number of people but it doesn’t mean it won’t work at all for everyone.
Moving to a new home, preferably to a new town should force your brain to adjust to new surroundings and new life, thus taking the concentration away from your misery. I do believe that this can make the moving on go more quickly; out of sight, out of mind.
This can easily seem like running away and it most probably is but I am not a masochist. At least I stopped being one. I didn’t even care about pride. I needed a new home. I needed to be far away from the cause of my suffering.
The one thing I should have done though was continued with therapy.
It is okay to let others think and decide for you
As decision-making is more challenging when suffering from depression, it is okay to give in to the temptation of letting others make decisions for you. In my case, this included how long I will mourn the death of my marriage which caused my depression. In my case, I acknowledged that the people in my life who loved me meant well and they just didn’t want me to wallow in misery for much longer so I understood why they talked me into getting over the divorce as soon as possible because the arse wasn’t worth so much time of mourning. He also deserved only a bit of tears so the crying period needed to be minimized.
However, what I needed but failed to recognize was that the decision made by my loved ones did not necessarily dictate when I would have my true healing.
Decide to do anything to forget the pain and do it
Anything can include going out with friends to dance, party, drink or even meet people, working exceptionally hard, retail-therapy, etc.
I have previously justified to myself all of the above as I turned to these activities in order to not feel the pain, even if only temporary, while busy with the activity, to be exact. Partying and shopping are rewards to support my love of self. They are my well-deserved treats. Either or both may even be used as a reward for over-working, which is unquestionably acceptable, even admirable.
Like shopping and partying, traveling helps with getting over depression. In fact, the latter is better than the former. Being in a different space, a foreign land or a place dissimilar from my own, will get the mind off the pain.
Your frame of mind will determine whether solo travel will be preferred to group travel. It is more fun to travel with other people but I feel that it is easier to miss the “local” as it is challenging to be engrossed in the newness or strangeness of the place with the familiar others around you. Also, it becomes almost a responsibility to have a fun experience together. A compromise will be to travel to a place with others but allow each other to go off on solo adventure and get together for dinner and activities agreed on from the start of the trip.
Be active, exercise
I feel that this is a tough one as many people without depression cannot get themselves to exercise so how do we expect someone depressed to get up and exercise?
Having partied and socialized so much during my first year as a divorced [young] woman, I got to a lethargic stage when I did not even want to go out. Granted it was winter but the season doesn’t stop everyone so it must have been the relapse I was experiencing. I had a friend who pushed me, forced me and dragged me to go out. But then again, I was impressionable and she was tenacious. I also knew that it was better for me to go out and laugh (even fake-laugh) than feel sorry for myself.
Bear in mind that exercise produces serotonin, which is good for you. Then, have someone to push and encourage you. Better yet, exercise together.
Find something to do that will make you feel useful. It doesn’t have to be related with work. Volunteering is actually a superb way to feel useful. It may not feel right somehow because you shouldn’t feel good about yourself at the expense of others but, regretfully, recognizing that others have less fortune is the easiest way to appreciate what you do have and thus offering your assistance becomes effortless.
Establish goals and work on achieving them. This will keep the mind busy with productive thoughts. There is a danger in falling back into negative thinking when obstacles are encountered while working on the goal so there is a need to be inspired and motivated. The reward is great once goals are achieved as confidence is reinforced. This is important in keeping a good dose of self-esteem.
Be inspired, think positively
Inspiration helps with positive-thinking. Luckily, inspiration is everywhere. However, as with almost everything, considering that you are suffering from depression, you might find getting inspired a challenge. Persist and the re-wiring in your brain is bound to happen.
Keep listening to inspirational talks, meditate and say out loud your affirmations. Acknowledge that it will feel forced in the beginning but persevere. Faking it till you make it has its use provided you’re working on the truth and the pretense eventually falls away.
Talk with others who inspire; join their inspirational discussions. Soak in the positive energies that others radiate. It is contagious.
Be brave and bold
Time spent alone evokes introspection. This can bring up hurt. So, although entering a relationship to help ease depression isn’t advisable, it can serve a purpose but merely as a starting point. I took this as being brave and bold knowing that relationships are scary to many.
This is something I did personally because I had a problem with being alone. I needed company, a partner, someone to consider my personal support system. If you feel you need to resort to a relationship, rebound or not, practice it with caution. Relationship as a way to handle depression can backfire because it’s not easy to control the heart.
But yes, focusing on a partner and a relationship with that partner is a diversion away from self.
But don’t forget –
Any or all of the above will not completely eliminate depression. As I said, I have discovered that although my depression was somehow suppressed, it was not permanent. If the root cause of the problem isn’t remedied, when you accidentally drop one the balls you’re juggling (any of the above), a relapse may be expected.
The important thing is to consult with a medical practitioner. Also, a regular session with a psychologist should aid with proper healing so I would advice this. I am still seeing one. I am no expert but I am confident that one day, depression will be nothing but a memory of an old life, a history that will not repeat itself.