I have suffered from depression for … well, I don’t know how long. But a long time. I think this makes me qualified to speak as an expert, at least on this one subject. Nearly every day is a constant battle, and to be perfectly honest with you, I’m sick of it. I hate the constant fight, the never ending struggle. So with this post I’m going to try some meta-thinking about depression — in other words, I’m going to think about thinking about depression.
And from this thinking I’m going to distill ten ways to beat depression.
10. Have a structurally normal brain. Depression is a disease like any other, only it affects the body’s most complex organ. If that organ is damaged, well, then you’re a step behind everyone else already. Oh! A note from the Speak For Yourself Department: You guys already have me beat on this one, what with my Traumatic Brain Injury and all. But I’m still fighting.
9. Be at least somewhat productive every day. I don’t mean pushing papers about, or shuffling files on a computer, or beating one more level in that Very Challenging Game you’re playing. Those things are all too abstract. I mean affect your environment in a positive way. Do something that you can step back and say “wow! I did that!” So mow the lawn. Paint the fence. Stick pins in a map. Draw something. Clean a single room in your home. And yes, I know that us knowledge workers have it very tough in this area.
8. Quit staring into the abyss already. You’re not doing anyone a service by doing so, least of all yourself. To borrow from one of the wiser people I know, Lingering on negativity only makes you more susceptible to it. Dwelling on it allows the abyss to get its hooks in you; prolonged association will only drag you down and corrode your spirit. When you feel these negative things, then observe them, acknowledge them, and let them go.
7. Listen to positive music. Nine Inch Nails is all fine and good. Trent has his place, certainly. But for me, music is very powerful — it is a great influence on my spirit. My struggle is great enough without having to fight that, too. Baroque classical music seems to help me a lot, especially the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. I don’t listen to it all the time, certainly, but when I feel especially bad, The “Little” Fugue in G minor is all I need. Devotional chanting helps me a lot as well, such as Deva Premal, Rasa or Krishna Das.
6. Get back in touch with the Divine. And that’s however you understand the Divine, which is different from how I do, or how your mother does, or your best friend, or whatever. The music I list above helps me do this. I also have a little altar set up behind my computer. On it are a few objects that either are or represent things that are important to me. At least twice a day — after I get up and before I lay down — I stop at this altar and do whatever feels appropriate at the time. Most times I will visualize what I’m trying to being in to my life; other times I will give thanks, other times I will take a few moments to just be.
5. Be grateful. I can’t overemphasize this enough. Be grateful for everything in your life, from being able to wake up in the morning to having relatively clean and breathable air to having edible food to the unexpected gift you got to … you get the idea. Gratitude is often its own reward, because the more grateful you are, the lighter you feel, the more tolerant you are. All this leads to — you guessed it — less depression, more happiness. Try it with some friends, even if you say nothing other than “thank you for being in my life.” While you’re at it, remember what goes around, comes around: I get inordinately happy when I get little messages like this (so rare!), and that makes me more likely to be happy and pass it on to other folks who might need a touch of happiness in their lives.
4. Get up and move around. Pay attention to what your body is telling you! Physical activity, especially of the strenuous kind, releases endorphins in the brain — special chemicals that make us feel good. When your ass starts hurting, as mine is now, that’s a sign you need to get up and get some blood flowing. Yes, I know motivation is hard. Yes, I’ve heard most of the excuses, having made many of them myself. But there’s no substitute for just doing it. Thanks, Nike.
3. Take a shower. Jump in the bath. Relax in the hot tub. Dive into the pool. Skinny-dip in the creek. More than just getting wet, these are all symbolic acts — of getting clean, letting the water wash away our troubles, cares and worries. Speaking for myself, there’s a certain mental shift that goes on when I am in the shower. Everything seems easier to deal with, problems seem smaller and more manageable. And I don’t stink any more! Bonus!
2. Expose yourself to beauty, every day. And I don’t mean flashing a rose bush! Every day you need to read good poetry. Examine wonderful art. Take a walk in nature. Put on a favorite piece of music. Whatever you feel is beautiful, whatever you feel passionate about — that’s the thing to do. Whatever you’re avoiding now — that’s the thing you need to ingest. It will lift your spirits, trust me.
and the most important way to beat depression and get happy –
1. Make the choice. Being happy doesn’t just happen magically. We’d like to believe it does; I believed it did for a very long time. Truth be told, though, being happy is hard work. That’s a choice that I need to make every day — and usually more often. But the point is, if you don’t want to be happy, then you’re not going to be. Simple as that.
Of course, your mileage may vary. But these are some of the things that worked for me, and I’ve a feeling they just might work for you, too.