Are you depressed? Yeah, me too…it’s not all the time, but often enough that I have learned to deal with it. I share this as a resource for others to consider. I don’t presume to know whether this will work for anyone else. It does work for me and continues to improve as I practice the skills. This works for me because I have my basic needs met.
When I am really depressed and feeling like I am lost in the fog, I can feel pretty helpless. That is the first sign that there is a problem. I am the best person to help myself at this point. I know when I need help. I know what help I need. I know how to get it. I know when I am incapable. I am learning to ask for help.
To feel helpless is usually an indication that I need to refocus my attention. This is true whether I am depressed about relationships that I wish I could change, a past that I wish had been different or the politics of nations. A lot of my dealing with depression is the simple acknowledgement of reality as it exists. I tend to get depressed about things that I will never have the ability to change. To me, this is an exercise in futility. But, this is about the process of dealing and healing and so here it is.
The first thing I do to refocus is to stop what I am doing for a minute and take a minute to breath and assess my environment. When I am really depressed, I start by asking whether I have core necessities covered. This is because as I am able to say “yes” to questions like “do you have shelter/” “do you have water?” “are you safe?” As I answer those, I begin to at the same time build a foundation to work from. Also, I am well aware that not everyone has these things and so I build appreciation of those affirmations.
Most of the time, my depression is low level and my environment can be easily improved to assist me in feeling better by asking less intense questions and find potential solutions. Examples include:
- Are my clothes comfortable? If not, what can I fix?
- Am I on Facebook? If I am, there is an auto response, get off Facebook and hoop for a few songs
- Am I thirsty? Get a drink
- Is the music I am listening to helping me to feel better or feeling my depression? I have playlists of songs that sometimes lift depression, but this is my favorite. I am morbid. I find that if I embrace that, I am less depressed.
- Is there a task that I am anxious about that I can complete and take off my plate?
As I assess these questions and begin to come up with answers, I help myself to begin to redirect my focus toward more immediate needs as well as put me on a problem solving track. I cannot always make all of the environmental changes I would like, especially at work. I do what I can though and often it helps.
Often, if the depression persists, I start to dig a little deeper to see if it is something more than environmental and/or situational. Usually it is something else and typically it is a problem perception with regard to past or present.
Sometimes it takes me days to figure out what is causing the depression. Sometimes, the depression is situational and the situations are way more long term than anyone would comfortably admit. What works for me is letting the depression exist without my undivided attention by compartmentalizing my emotions. I am sure someone would have some something to say about this. I find that giving myself time to work through depression without judging it or myself has been life changing. There is power in not letting the intensity of my emotions take over. Emotions are temporary. Everything is. Keeping that in perspective helps.
Additionally I consider what is at the source of my depression in this moment. Questions about this might be
- Is it possible that I am seeing things from a place of distorted thinking? Am I applying past events with other people to current relationships?
- Is it normal to be depressed about this thing that is happening?
I allow myself to externalize the depression and think of other possibilities and often times, that helps. If nothing else, it helps to reinforce that I am doing everything I can think of to address the depression I am feeling.
If I am depressed about the past, more often than not, it is because of the effect the past has had . Complex trauma is like an onion; lots of layers that present themselves when you least expect it. Parenting is proof of that. I welcome the layers most days. I work hard for these layers to become sources of personal strength. But, those layers being revealed is more than depressing. It’s still worth peeling them back.
I take naps. I go outside and play. I read books. I listen to music. I write. Sometimes, I call people. The best thing I can do when I am depressed is do something about it. Feel it without judging myself for feeling it. Think of ways to process through it and act on the combination of those things. It isn’t easy. Even writing this, I feel like I am missing steps and over simplifying. I believe, after a lot of therapy and blah blah blah…that I am the best person to help myself. This is how I deal with depression, by doing something. This and lots of love, family, friends and hugs. I hope it helps.