Pssst…hey friend, have any thoughts on depression? I’ll bet you don’t like it. I’ll also take a guess and say it’s not a lot of fun to be around someone who is in a deep state of depression. You get depressed about their depression…you want them to feel better, happier, more joy again and being around happiness is much easier than sadness. Yet, since most of us are human (I think), we all experience depressed periods…all of us.
Depress means to push or pull something down into a lower position.
With depression, you are residing in your past with regret, sometimes guilt, most likely with things you wish you could change. You’re pressed inward, trying to rescue yourself.
To be clear, this blog is not talking about chronic, diagnosable and biologically-driven depression, such as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). MDD is not “situational” depression, which is a response to loss and grief. MDD is chronic and severe and can create a lack of hope and thoughts of suicide. It’s serious and if you know someone who you think is severely depressed, get them some help. At a minimum, you can notify a family member of your concern. If you believe they are suicidal, call 911 and stay with them until help arrives.
Back to situational depression…when you lose something you care about, you grieve.
You grieve the dream…the expectation that something was going to be different than it has turned out.
You “expected” that relationship to last forever. It didn’t. You “expected” your health would be good enough to go on your “bucket list” trip and you now have a serious illness. You “expected” your employment would last and that you’d be able to support your family. You have just been laid off. There were high hopes and plans for the future. You’re grieving the loss of your unmet expectations.
Depression is a normal part of the grieving process.
Your loss is a reality, you have little energy, and you’re sad. You’re withdrawn, lethargic, and de-energized and you find yourself in the depression stage of grieving.
What to do when you’re experiencing depression?
- Honor the reason for your depression. Remember, depression is typically grief about something in the past, something or someone important that you “lost.” Your feelings and sadness are normal.
- Don’t numb out. Many times, people will drink more alcohol or self-medicate. Alcohol is a depressant…it will only make things worse. Self-medicating might temporarily numb your painful feelings, but they don’t go away…they go inward and deeper and will resurface later. And remember, when you numb emotions, you numb ALL emotions, the good ones and the ones you’re trying to avoid.
- Move your body. As depression can make you want to stay in bed and pull the cover over your eyes, movement is super important. Get outside and go for a walk. Go to the gym. Do some yoga and stretch your body. Get your blood flowing…remind yourself how alive you are. Keep moving.
- Talk about it. Holding onto feelings and emotions creates emotional blockage. Find someone safe…your partner, a family member, a friend, a counselor or a coach and talk about it. Let it out. I know we think we should “just get over it” and “be tough.” Fortunately, we’re human. Find another human who will listen without judgment.
- Back to Basics. The acronym, HALT, is an easy way to remind yourself to stop what you’re doing and get back to basics. When you find yourself Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, stop and address those needs first to take care of yourself.
- Accept that you’re depressed. Don’t fight your depression…accept that it will move on in time. Resisting and trying to ignore your feelings will only create more pain. Avoidance is not the solution. Feel your feelings.
- Seek help. If your depression has gotten to a place of hopelessness, seek help. Even situational depression can take people to extreme lows. Some pains are simply more than many of us can imagine. Get help. Know that it’s okay to reach out and please do.
So, if you’re currently experiencing depression, connect with your heart and feel your necessary and important feelings.
Reach out to people and allow them to help. Day by day, you will integrate the valuable loss that you’re grieving, your painful feelings will dissipate, and life will start to normalize in a different way. Because, as I’ve said before, when you’re in the Dark Swamp, you simply keep moving through it.