Depressive thoughts are a part of life. There cannot be a single soul walking this planet that has not experienced depression in their lifetime. What happens when we get stuck in the depression, or the depression keeps coming back stronger each time? At any point in time that we want to move out of our depression, we can. It is that simple. However, once the decision is made, we must do the work necessary.
I have learned that there is no way around depression, there is only through it. Through it is where you learn the lessons or get to the absolute core as to why you are feeling this way in the first place. Depression can stem from regret, a loss, not getting what you want or what you think you deserve. Every one of these subject matters can lead us into self-discovery, and depression can be the physical reminder for us to do this.
The first time that I can remember being depressed, I had just transferred into a major university as a junior…and I absolutely despised being there. It was the wrong place for my major, and after being educated in a smaller college where my professors knew me, the anonymity made me feel unvalued. Instead of trying, or moving out of my comfort zone to get involved, I would ditch class and go shopping. I was bored, undisciplined, and avoiding the self-examination necessary to figure out my next steps in life. Shopping became my void filler and I filled that gaping hole inside of me by acquiring stuff. Like $7,000.00 worth of stuff on my credit cards.
Realizing the damage that I was doing to myself, but still avoiding self-examination, I went to my doctor and got a prescription for an anti-depressant. I felt better, and was able to think clearly again, which led me to transfer into a new college. Then I was happy. Until I wasn’t. All in all, I have done a dance with depression about three times, the last one being severe enough to land me in the hospital. Each time I faced depression, I had try to “go around it” by doing the same routine, take a pill, feel better, get off of the medication, and continue to feel better until the next hard life lesson/or big life change came along. Then back to the physician for a pill.
I realized that when I was in the hospital, (on new years eve, listening to the ball drop on the television in the rec room down the hall) that I needed to change…and change everything. NOW. I realized my life was not at all what I wanted. My lifestyle wasn’t serving me, it was hurting me, and I was way off of my life’s path. In fact, I was lost! I decided to refuse medications and follow my intuition to get myself well again. This did not make me popular with the staff and served as my first test in sticking by my intuition no matter what anyone said. While I was there, I realized that eating meals at the same time each day and that they were nutritionally balanced was making me feel better. I also noticed that going to bed at the same time, getting up at the same time and moving through a routine was helping me. Therefore, I decided to let the hospital stay jump start me onto a new life’s path of continued wellness and self-care. I had a lot of work to do, there were a lot of unhealthy activities and toxic people that I would need to release from my life, and while I did worry about that, I decided to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and let the rest just fall into place. This is what I did, and you can do it too: (NOTE: Please, if you need medication, take it. It does help, but it is meant to be used in conjunction with personal work and/or therapy. Please consider adding the activities below while working with your doctor to eventually wean you down.)
Move it – The absolute first thing that must be done is some sort of movement. A good 30 minutes of walking, jogging, yoga, weight lifting, rock climbing, anything that moves your body parts is mandatory step #1. Even if you just start with 15 minutes and walk around your neighborhood. The science behind this is that physical activity releases endorphin, dopamine, and other “feel good” chemicals in the brain. You are also circulating your blood and fluids through their filters, as well as circulating oxygen to all of your cells. A lack of proper circulation can be why we get depression symptoms in the first place, so when you are not walking, focus on breathing deep in and out breaths.
Get outside – Nature has a natural rhythm. There are no alarm clocks in the woods, yet the flowers bloom at the same time each day and the animals instinctively progress with their routines. Getting into nature helps to reset our own inner clock. Scientists have found that listening to nature sounds for 2 hours a day reduces signs of depression by 600%. Name me a pill that has that is as effective as 600%.
Get quiet – Many people are afraid of this one. So afraid that they pack their schedules very tightly, or come up with a million busywork projects in avoidance. But there is nothing to be afraid of, and you will come to crave it. Just sit there for a few minutes. Notice your thoughts, but don’t judge them. Let them just come and go. Focus on breathing in, and breathing out. Congratulations, you just meditated!
Getting some quiet alone time into your schedule should be a priority. Your creative self can emerge from behind all of the banter that she can get covered up with. I always have my journal, a pen, and a glass of water near by and if I feel the urge, I write my thoughts out just to quiet my mind. We most often get depressed because we are neglecting who we truly are and the depression is just a physical bodily reminder to pay attention to yourself. It’s like your true self stomping her feet saying “Hey!” “What about me!?” “I want to emerge and show the world who you really are!” “You’re brilliant and you’re not honoring yourself!” She can go on and on like that so to please her, let her come forth! When you get really good at this, and you will, routinely take yourself out on a date! My favorite is a four star sushi restaurant. If I’m in the mood for conversation, I sit at the fancy bar and eat. If I am not, I get a booth. No book, no playing on the phone, just eat and enjoy yourself.
Talk to Source – This is not about religion, it’s about belief. Belief in a higher power. Talk to your higher power often and as if you are talking to a friend. Tell him/her anything and everything that comes to your heart, get it all out. There is such relief to unburdening yourself. Yell, cry, laugh, whatever. Just get it out from deep inside of you, let it hit air and transmute into vapor. Just stop sitting on it, stop stuffing it down. When it’s out you’ll feel 10 pounds lighter. Then go take a nap.
Address your diet – This does not mean that you have to be vegan, or vegetarian, but it does mean that you have to pay attention to what you are putting into your mouth and how often. Fast food is processed with countless chemicals, and just like we learned in chemistry class, chemicals react. More green and less food to go. More water and less fizzy drinks. Once you really take care of yourself, you won’t want to put harmful things into your body. I mean, it’s your body. You only get one.
Get sleep – Eight hours, six hours, there is plenty of debate of what you really need. If you want to find out just how much your own body needs to be at it’s best, you can go to sleep and wake up naturally a few nights in a row. However many hours you ended up sleeping on average each night is what you should aim for. And I know that insomnia is a is such a fucker, but there are PLENTY of resources of natural and herbal remedies that one can try before reaching for a habit forming pill. Do some homework and start with Google. Better yet, go to a library and read about natural remedies.
Have sex – This is self explanatory. What I will add however is new research showing that women who had unprotected sex with their partners were less depressed then their condom wrapped counterparts. WHOA Nelly! I am in no way advocating for unprotected sex for everyone, but I am advocating for it among monogamous partners. Semen can now be counted as a “natural antidepressant”!
Address your surroundings – If you are a hoarder, or live in a dark house where the curtains are constantly closed, and you live by the light of one candle, I have some news for you…you simply cannot beat depression that way. You’re actually inviting it in. Reveling in the comfort of familiarity. I know that it is scary to change, but it is even more scary to stay the same. Open the curtains to start. People that love themselves and feel great about themselves always have a tidy and inviting home. You do not need top of the line furnishings, but you do need space for the good energy to flow. You need to de-clutter, clean, and organize. There are so many websites and blogs dedicated to this topic, and they are inspiring, even a tad addicting! Start very small. Wash a window and see how it feels to physically and metaphorically remove months of build up and make it shiny and new. Now pretend that by cleaning your house your cleaning your soul…because you are. Doesn’t that feel soooo much better?
Birds of a feather… – At some point you are going to want to take a serious look at who you are hanging around with because we become most like the 5 people that we are around most often. Do these people cheer you on, or talk you out of changing your life for the better? Do they all have financial problems? Are they all angry? Do they have a lifestyle/marriage/family that you admire? Some of these relationships will naturally fall away once you get serious about self-care. Others will end up making the change with you because you inspire them. No matter what happens, don’t stop, just keep going. True friends will never leave you, and the ones that do were never true. Sadly, this can include family members. Bear in mind though that sometimes people take a different path than we do. It doesn’t mean that their path won’t ever circle back around to us, because it might and that is a good thing to pray for. However, sometimes we need to release people from our lives with love.
Take personal responsibility – Realize that co-dependency is corrosive. It is in no way sustainable, and I can speak from experience. When you are depended on or if you depend on another person for happiness, it will fail. Humans are fallible and people can’t read minds. Another part of responsibility is taking some for your own life. Your actions and inactions. Realize that everything starts with self. We create our lives by allowing things to happen or not happen and we do this directly or indirectly. Either way, we alone are in charge of our own happiness, and whether or not we follow our dreams. We are responsible for who we let in to our lives and who we keep out. In short, you are in charge of you, and the faster that key concept is grasped the faster self-transformation goes. It is also a huge relief because you finally have control. Once you realize that you are in the driver seat, you no longer have to worry about things that you have no control over like other people and their actions, you only have to be concerned with yours.
There a many things that come with the above territory, but the above can get anyone started. Depression is just an inner cry that you are not where you are meant to be. Depression is a reminder that you are playing it small, or you have some things/people in your life that you need to release. It most definitely can mean that you have some healing to do. Whatever your depression is an outer manifestation of, you owe it to yourself to find out and take action to fix it. You are not alone, nor are you all by yourself in your healing. There are so many emerging coaches, life transformation programs, healers, natural practitioners, herbalists, shamans, nurus, and conflict revolutionist that can help. Trust your inner self to help guide you and keep an open mind and heart to where it leads. Life is magnificent and suffering is not mandatory for being here. Once you master these tools (and you will) and you learn new ones that work for you (and you will) anytime depression comes around, you will be able to use it as a little alarm clock that maybe you’re missing something or have stepped off your path. Once you master these tools, depression will never take a stronghold over you again…because you won’t allow it to!
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