At the beginning of each New Year, there is significant emphasis placed on improving ones’ physical health through diet and exercise; equal importance should be placed on caring for our psychological health. Because society emphasizes and celebrates physical beauty in comparison to the unfortunate stigma and shame that is associated with mental illness; it continues to hinder people from discussing and educating themselves.
One of the most common mental disorders is depression. It can impair us on many levels, affecting our mental and physical wellbeing. No one wants to be depressed, yet 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. If you are suffering from depression, there are behavioral strategies that you should be doing to fight it! Depression requires your respect because you can lose who you know yourself to be because of it. Depression is not passive. If not managed well, it comes with consequences as it can deceive you and rob you of your quality of life.
Because depression is so prevalent, it leads us to believe that “everyone” has it and that it’s not that big of a deal; therefore, it is often not taken serious enough. If you have been diagnosed with depression or if you are at risk for becoming depressed, because of life stressors with work, relationships or caring for someone who is chronically ill, take it seriously. Don’t delay in fighting it! Not addressing depression puts you at risk for losing so much. Fighting depression requires that we discipline ourselves by putting strategies in place that distances us from it. Daily, ask yourself “What did I DO today to address my depression?”
If you have ever experienced the depths of despair that is brought on by depression, then you know how much time and effort is required to recover from it. The best gift that you give yourself is to do the daily work that is needed to avoid the dark side of depression. If your thoughts and actions direct you towards feelings of despair, then your pain and suffering will continue to increase. Despair says, “I don’t want to live like this anymore!” It’s as if you cannot feel anything─ good or bad. Addressing depression requires that you DO something-don’t refuse to act on depression. The more you say “NO”, the farther you will move into depression. The failure to act is your contribution to your own pain and suffering.Don’t wait until you FEEL like doing something because depression won’t allow it. For example, if you find yourself continuously needing to stay in bed and isolate yourself, don’t ignore the part of yourself that says: get up, take a shower and start your day. Developing the bad habit of ignoring the voice that is making efforts to direct us away from depression does not serve us well. Every time we refuse to listen to our true self, the authentic part of us that is trying to be healthy, it is us betraying ourselves.
Depression requires your respect because you can lose who you know yourself to be because of it.
In order for you to fight depression, you have to know yourself. You have to unapologetically invest time in learning about YOU. Know what your triggers are; know what you can and cannot tolerate-learn about yourself by keeping a record of your moods and the quality of your sleep- develop disciplines that will help you get control of your negative thoughts, and discover ways to increase your self-awareness so that you can meet your own needs. Don’t deceive yourself by falsely hoping that someone will rescue you from the pain of depression because life doesn’t work that way. Depression is an inside job. It requires that you take responsibility for managing your own mental health.
Depression will lie to you and tell you not to reach out for support. It will lead you to believe that you have no value as a person and that you do not matter. It will rob you of your right to feel like a sane, happy, healthy, and whole person. It will tear you away from everyone and everything that you love and care about. By respecting depressions power to devastate, you realize that you also have power. You have the power to choose to do something every day to help yourself to feel less depressed. You can choose to take medication to address the symptoms of depression, or you can choose to do the behaviors that address the symptoms of depression. Whatever it takes, DO something. Don’t give in to the self-pity and shame that comes with living with depression; it’s not worth it. Make an effort to get the help and the support that you need to get well.
Examine the things in your life that are causing “noise” in your head. Try to reduce mental noise by simplifying your life. Learn to say “No” and set boundaries. Let go of relationships that are toxic. Keep away from negative people. Reduce stress. Declutter your environment. Stop procrastinating. Stop multitasking so much. Unitasking is doing one thing at a time; it helps us to stay in the present moment and to not become so easily overwhelmed. Move yourself away from judging others and more towards acceptance. Understand that there is always more than one way to see a situation. Don’t personalize things. What someone else thinks about you is none of your business. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Learn to love yourself. Become a friend to yourself. Give yourself the same courtesy that you give others by being patient, kind and forgiving of yourself.
Having depression is hard. Working your way through depression is hard. It’s all hard. Choose your hard!