Tag Archives: depression
It often can seem like there is no chance of anything changing at all. You are totally stuck in the depths of sadness and loneliness. These negative thought patterns can feel insurmountable. I often consider these feelings like trying to run through molasses. This is what it can feel like to be depressed. You want to move and change, you want to feel happy, you want to engage in your life but you just can’t get there. It is hard and it really can seem like nothing you do matters.
However, there is an ever so small truth that often gets left out of the depression equation. That is that change happens one small step at a time. When you go in thinking that nothing you do matters or can change your situation, that is where the error occurs. You are not in control of your feelings they come up naturally as a response. However YOU ARE IN CONTROL of your thought and actions. When you have a strong emotional response, you have the ability to not follow it with negative thoughts and/or actions. Because if you do, it increases the negative feelings that make you feel stuck.
Hence, the smallest change of how you react to your emotional responses has a great impact on how bad (or not) you continue to feel. Because you can control your thoughts and actions you have the opportunity to make a change in your pattern. It may seem small but think about what happens when you feel bad and then add on it terrible thoughts about yourself and even take actions that harm you. It all just feeds into the negative pattern and you are stuck in a bad cycle of self-hatred. Instead, when you have a negative emotional response to someone, you can stop and decide to not follow it down with a negative thought.
You are having a bad work day and feel pretty sad. A co-worker comes in and is short with you about some paperwork she can’t find. You might respond thinking thoughts like: I am such a bad person, I can’t even get the files she needs, what is wrong with me? And then you feel worse, continue to pile on more negative thoughts, not take any steps towards finding the files, and then go home and isolate. All of this making you feel even more depressed.
Instead you can STOP this pattern and try something different so you can break the cycle.
In response to the same situation you can consider other alternatives like: Wow it seems like she is really stressed out, she has a lot of pressure right now I can understand why she might need help finding the file. You then decide to go help her find the necessary files and begin to feel good that you were able to keep perspective, help out, and go home in turn possibly even invite a friend over to talk and have dinner.
It seems so small but that little change in thought leads to action, which turns into a new pattern that is positive and productive. So just when you think there is nothing to do and that you are stuck. Remember that you are in control of your thoughts and actions and that you can take a negative pattern and turn it around. That small step is what starts to move you from a negative into a positive direction.
Sometimes it is hard to find something you enjoy about your day. It can seem like one bad thing after another happens. It all just piles up and you want to hang your head low as the Charlie Brown theme music plays along. Basically, you feel like life sucks.
Now, this isn’t a post about how you are supposed to be happy and jump around when you are feeling like crap. I promise! However, this is a post about how you should find at least one thing to smile about even when you are super unhappy. I won’t go into all the science (you have the internet, you can look it up yourself) behind it. The basics are when you repeat negative messages over and over again… it becomes easier for your brain to respond with terrible thoughts than with positive ones. This is essentially what is going on when you are depressed (same thing can happen with anxiety). Your brain wants to go to the miserable places rather than hang out at the joyous ones. (what fires together wires together).
Hence if you want a quick way to keep depression at a distance, you just need to allow your brain multiple different ways of interpreting information. This is kind of the idea that is set into motion when you learn a new language as a way of keeping your brain active to strengthen against Alzheimer’s. You begin to look for an opposite or alternative way of processing the daily grind of grumpy thoughts and emotional responses.
An example for this would be when your morning has already turned into a hellish adventure. You take a moment to realize that November 11th 2011 looks kind of neat as 11-11-11. Then you decide that it would be pretty cool (or geeky depending on how you look at it ;) noticed it was 11:11 am on 11-11-11. Then you decide that you will text a friend and let them know about this grand idea. Then you decide to celebrate this 11-11-11 at 11:11 by both doing a dance even though you live in different time zones. It sounds simple, it is simple. One thought leads to another and leads to actions and leads to positive emotional responses. Before you know it, not only are you dancing but you are smiling and BOOM depression is defeated for another day.
I’m being rather elemental with all this, but you get the idea. In the moment it takes to use the emotional energy to repeat the negative cycle you can decide to do something different. Maybe you aren’t ready to do the 11 dance (it is rather advanced). But maybe you are ready to consider shifting the continued pattern of sadness into a lighter version. Changing the thoughts from “I’m miserable and life is horrible” to “I’m pretty unhappy and I just haven’t found a way to get out of this slump YET!” See the change? That one little word at the end leaves open the possibility for a different approach, mindset, and emotional response.
Becoming happier doesn’t require some big overhaul of your life to begin nor does it require you stop being you. What it does require is the three-second effort of shifting perception to incorporate a new idea. I think no matter how upset, ticked off, or all around curmudgeonly a person you are… you can get this approach to work for you!
There are many moments where we feel defeated and unsure about how to move ahead. Life appears to be stacked against us and we really just want to run away to a cabin somewhere in the Wisconsin winter woods. This is what Justin Vernon did when his band and romantic relationship both ended one after another. In case one might not think that is enough, Justin was quickly there after bedridden with mono for three months. Lonely and stuck in every way possible, Vernon took his sadness and turned it into something beautiful. He wrote a painfully exquisite song about the experience.
The song pours out the emotional turmoil and eventual truth that so many of us live through. It can feel like a death of the soul when you experience betrayal. Frozen within the heartache that seems to never go away. It can be overwhelming to take on the simplest tasks. Depression hits you when the last thing you feel you can do is handle more hardship. Not only do you feel like you have to take on the world, you also can feel like you are in a battle with yourself.
And yet, there is something magical that happens when we are cut to the quick. We begin to learn about ourselves and our character. The hard-won understanding of our being is not something that happens upon us in an instant. It isn’t that sorrow feels good, but it is that sorrow brings forth a greater sense of self. When we allow ourselves to mourn and grieve parts of what we had wanted and expected, we then allow for that space to heal. We have the choice of letting that past pain calcify within us or transform it into a holding place for the opportunity to treat ourselves and others more respectfully.
Consider how you might take inspiration from someone like Justin Vernon and allow yourself to develop a powerful new sense of emotional range. Allow those authentic response to become a catalyst to empowered creativity!
“This is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization
It’s the sound of the unlocking and the lift away
Your love will be…
Safe with me”
You are encouraged to listen to this lovely cover of the song. It will still your senses.
(Should auto-load if not press the play button, for free listening.)
A recent study by Dr. Andrews and Thomson was reported in July 2009′s Psychological Review that discussed a new idea in the study of depression. Our understanding of sadness in regards to long term illness has been a growing avenue of consideration. There are multiple theories and new research comes out fairly often. Taking these studies into the realm of possibility for treatment is important.
So many people suffer from feeling blue/lonely/lathargic and usually we call this depression. The symptoms can vary in range but overall we just don’t feel very much like ourselves. The feeling of being emotionally stuck in molase is a common one that is discussed within the walls of my office.
I have found that what works best for one client may not necessarily be the best method for another. While everything from meditation, exercise, sleep hygiene, eating habits, expression, social connection, and talk therapy are wonderful attempts at getting at the issue, we still are lacking in many areas of understanding.
Hence when new research comes along that looks at depression in a fresh way it is worth delving into further. An article from Scientific American discusses the study by explaining the researchers are finding that depression may be an indicator for people to consider their feelings and situations more deeply. The authors consider that perhaps not all parts of depression are negative, but rather that when studying the minds of those that suffer with depression are able to focus their brain more directly in a differing way on their problems.
What if depression is not completely a negative situation? What if depression is an indicator from our bodies/mind to slow down and concentrate more on situations that we are pushing aside? If you think about other ways the body shows us that we need to think and feel more directly, there is a lot of basic life evidence to support such a theory.
We often talk about how our necks or backs are tense from stress. Is this not the bodies way of saying “Hey! Hold on here… stuff is happening that you are not processing”? This is not to say that all depression is simply a red flag for not looking close that issues, but many a counselor would tell you such in therapy.
I’m not sure we have answers for depression, yet if there is another element to add to the possibly lightening of the load it is exciting look ahead. Hence if you are feeling low and can try to more concretely think about what situation/event/feeilng is rising up for focus, you may just see more results then pretending it isn’t there. Depression could be our minds telling us it wants to get better!