DEPRESSION…. it’s an ugly beast.
I’ve thought a lot about depression since Robin Williams death. There’s a lot about his life and his situation that I don’t pretend to understand.
But I do know how easy it is to wear a mask for all the world to see, but underneath all that to have a deep hidden pain that we keep secret from the world. I know how easy it is for us to hide beneath an image or a facade, and feel like there is no one else that truly understands.
I live an extraordinary, blessed and happy life. And I am intensely grateful for each day… But, like all of us, I too have experienced sadness, sorrow and loss… Those days that I don’t want to crawl our of bed, and have no desire to talk to anyone. I’ve had times, where I hated looking at myself, because I hated who I was. And times where I had no no hope for the future, and no desire to be me… but those times always seem to pass, like an ugly storm, leaving room for life to reawaken me.
While I’ve never experienced the type of sorrow and depression that has made me feel like ending my life, I can appreciate those that have. Most of us have lost people in our life to suicide. For me, it was my sister. I was just 14 at the time. She was in her early twenties. She had battled depression for years, until finally it was too much. She was so gifted and so beautiful. How I wish that I could’ve offered her something to give her the hope to hang on, to give her what she needed to heal.
I wonder sometimes, with all my years of training on understanding psychology and human behavior, and all my experience helping so many change their lives as a transformational coach, if any of my advice that I have now could have helped her then. I’m not sure. My work has never focused on those that struggle with clinical depression.
But, If I could talk to my sister, or Robin Williams, or those that do struggle with depression and sorrow, or myself when I am down, this is the advice I would give…
1) JUST TAKE ONE BREATH AT A TIME… and know this too shall pass. So much of our pain and sorrow tends to be tied up in remembering the past, or worrying about the future. Come back to now, just breathe, and remind yourself, as many times as it takes, that there will be brighter days ahead.
2) FOCUS ON GRATITUDE… turn all your attention to the simple beautiful things in your life right now. The sunset, and the flowers. The smiles on children’s faces and the beating of your own heart. There are a million things we can find to be grateful for, when we turn our attention to that. Depression and sorrow come from when we focus on what’s wrong and what we lack. Deliberately shift your attention to what is right and what you have.
3) MOVE. JUST MOVE… Get up and get your body moving. Get your heart pounding. Get into a new place, a new environment. Walk. Run. Exercise. Play sports. Do yoga… Stagnation leads to depression. Our souls crave GROWTH and change and movement. When we least want to move, is when we need it the most.
4) FOCUS ON OTHERS… Serve. Give. Connect. There is always someone worse off than you. There is always someone who needs to be lifted. Even when you are feeling at your lowest, there is something about connecting and giving to another soul in need that will lift your spirit higher. You cannot lift another, without being lifted yourself.
5) REACH OUT, YOU’RE NOT ALONE… You don’t need to pretend to be strong, or to have it all together. There are more people than you can imagine, that care for you. Be vulnerable and open. Ask for the help and advice that you need. Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out, and remember that you are loved.
6) TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF… Make sure that you’re eating well. Nutrition has a huge impact on emotional well being. Make sure that you’re exercising, if your body isn’t well, your spirit will suffer too. Make sure that you’re getting enough rest, but not too much. Make sure that you’re showering, getting ready for each day… when depression hits, it’s easy to lack motivation for even the simple things in life. But the simple things are the important things.
7) FILL YOUR MIND WITH THE POSITIVE… Negative thoughts will sabotage your life and devour your hope. So, surround yourself with things that will build you up rather than tear you down. Read inspirational books. Listen to Joel Osteen. Fill your home with inspiring music. Surround yourself with positive friends. And most importantly, repeat positive words into your own life. Write a list of affirmations, record it and listen to it several times a day. Words have power to build or destroy. Depression will cloud your mind with toxic voices that bring death. Fill yourself intentionally with words that give life.
8) LEAN INTO GOD… There is something beautiful about believing there is an all-knowing God who knows and loves you infinitely, that is there to carry you in His strength when you are weak. These trials can strengthen our faith… but faith is a choice. One where we choose to believe even when we can’t see. Why? Because believing somehow makes us stronger. Open your heart up in your search for God, and somehow you will discover more of yourself.
9) PURSUE YOUR PASSION… seek for those things that make you feel alive. Find your purpose. Pursue those goals that challenge and scare you. The greatest challenge in depression is shaking ourselves out of the the numb apathy that keeps us asleep. Chase those things that light your fire, wake you up and give meaning to your life.
10) ASK FOR HELP TO HEAL… There are many times when you may need help or advice from a friend. Sometimes it’s just a feeling that will pass, and you just need someone who is willing to stand in the storm with you… And sometimes where you may need someone who is professional therapist, healer or counselor. FIND THOSE WHO CAN DISCOVER and HEAL THE REAL ROOT of the problem. Depression can have lots of causes. Harmones, chemical imbalances, genetic conditions, dietary problems, brain injury, traumatic events, childhood wounds… Deal with the core issue, and not the surface emotion.
( I’m usually not a fan of a lot of traditional therapy or medicine. Not all professionals know what they are doing. I think too often people use medication to cover up the symptom without dealing with the real problem. But there are times when it is necessary, and there are many really good, amazing, talented and skilled professionals out there. Keep looking and educating yourself until you find the right person to work with you.)
Don’t wait until it’s too late. And don’t ever give up… you’re not alone.
Hold onto hope, and remember the world needs you. We need your gift and your light. You are loved. More than you can possibly know.
– Gerald Rogers
If you feel like others would be served by this, please share. The sad thing is we never know who is around us is hurting. Hopefully we can be the type of friends that lift them up. Sometimes we don’t know who will be helped by the simple things we do.