As I sit down to write this blog post I find myself sea side on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. I live in such a wonderful country and I am so blessed to call it home. Even though I live in such a wonderful place and have the opportunity to be sea side, I still experience depression. So why is it, that when we have everything we need somehow it still sometimes isn’t enough? I am going to try and attempt to answer this question the best way I know how and in the best light possible.
Depression is a normal part of life and not something to be afraid of
Whether it is a loss of a job, relationship, home or sense of belonging…depression can attack us all at different parts of our lives whether we have it all or we have nothing. Understanding what depression is will help you and I respect it, acknowledge it, not try to fight it but simply respond in a healthy way to it. I will also write about what a healthy response is a bit later in this blog.
Depression can appear in our lives at anytime, anywhere
We can do everything in our power to control our lives. Such as have a financial planner to manage finances, buy our own house to control our surroundings, choose who we hang around with and who we don’t to avoid toxic people and we can choose jobs that will help us achieve our career goals. All these things we can control, however we can not control the ‘suddenly’s’ in our life. The accidents, the unexpected moments, the reactions of other people and the choices of those around us that can leave us suddenly in a world of hurt we did not expect. So it doesn’t matter how much you and I choose to control, there will always be a percentage or part of our life that is uncontrollable. Some people call it mother nature, some say it is Karma and some call it the universe who has the final say on these matters.
I like however to call it God. In my life I have chosen to believe in a higher power who I call God. I allow this God that I believe in to have the final say in my life. I may make my plans but in the end God has the final say. Even though I serve a wonderful God, I am still not exempt to depression and pain. I am not saying that God creates negative experiences to cause me depression, however he may remove or change things in my life that I have put there because He has a better plan for my life than I do.
When change happens sometimes it will cause a moment of depression because it is unexpected and that is OK. I have realised to not be afraid of depression but to accept it as a normal part of my life and the lives of those around me. What I have learnt is when the unexpected times in my life happen, when depression may rear its ugly head that I am to respond to that depression in a healthy way.
So what does depression looks and feel like?
Depression can come in many forms and will look different to all of us. The most happy person in your network of people could actually be the most depressed. The most confident person could also be depressed and those around you that are withdrawn may also be depressed. A depressed person may be young or old, rich or poor, an extrovert or an introvert. Even though it can look different due to the personalities and lifestyles of different people, there is generally some common traits that will help you understand what depression looks and feels like. Here are some…
- A person may feel like getting out of bed is very difficult
- They may not find pleasure in things they once enjoyed
- Being withdrawn from family and friends
- Not wanting to participate in daily activities
- Engaging in risky behaviour and activities
- Not wanting to give attention to their own appearance or hygiene
- Only seeing the negative things in situations rather than looking for the positive
- Over-reacting or under-reacting
- Not caring about life in general
- Feeling worthless
- Feeling like there is no hope and they have no hope for their future
- Feeling less than competent at life in general
- Finding it difficult to do activities which are part of their daily routine like taking a shower, brushing their teeth or cooking dinner
As I mentioned earlier, depression can look different for everyone. Some people who are depressed may still even be able to function well in their job however when they are home they can not participate in family or social activities and retreat instead. Some who are very sociable may find it difficult to hold down a job or focus on tasks to help them achieve mental healing.
It is important that you and I do not judge anyone for being depressed. The more we judge, the more we hinder someone from receiving the treatment and healing they deserve. If a depressed person does not receive treatment then they can very easily spiral out of control which may result in suicidal thoughts or attempts. Everyone deserves to be respected and shown dignity whether they are depressed or not. Again it is not something that the individual needs to be afraid of and it is certainly not something that the person’s friends and family need to avoid or be afraid of. Do not let what you don’t understand hold you back from truly helping someone heal.
Unhealthy ways of responding to depression
When people know they are depressed but are afraid of getting help they may indulge in risky and dangerous behavious. These things may give them some temporary relief from the pain of depression however will not aid in the recovery or healing process. Some ways to respond to depression which are unhealthy may include:
- Excessive consumption of alcohol or other drugs
- Being over reactive or under reactive
- Engaging in harmful and risky behaviours and activities
- Careless and excessive sex with multiple partners
- Shutting off from the world and becoming reclusive
- Yelling, screaming and putting other people down
- Engaging in criminal behaviour
- Being careless of their actions and not considering consequences to these actions
- Over-eating or under-eating
- Going on spending and shopping sprees when they can not afford to
How to respond to depression in a healthy way
A person needs to figure out for themselves what works for them to heal from depression. Just as there are a lot of unhealthy ways of dealing with depression, there are a lot of healthy ways too. If you or someone you know is depressed try and encourage yourself or your loved one to do the following. All of these may not be able to be done together at once, so why not just start off with something that you can suggest you or they do straight away. Then you can add other things from the list below later when the time is right. Here is some ideas to respond to depression in a healthy way:
- Build something
- Create something
- Call a friend
- Message a friend
- Have a conversation with a friend over a meal
- See a doctor
- Make an appointment with a councilor
- Visit a psychologist
- Watch a funny movie
- Eat something healthy
- Make a list of things that you want to achieve in the day, week or month and check them off as you complete each activity
- Get a massage
- Soak in a hot tub
- Listen to calming music
- Have a party (without excessive use of alcohol, drugs or sex which could lead to more depression)
- Take up a new hobby and learn something new
- Be adventurous and do something outdoors like rock climbing, jet skiing, mount climbing or bike riding
There are many ways that you can help heal from depression. Every little bit helps and the list above is just a small list to get your started on your goal to heal or help someone else heal. Remember it is OK to be depressed however in my opinion NOT OK to avoid it and not take responsibility for doing something about it.
If you need help or more information on depression or would like to make contact with a mental health professional please visit or your local General Practitioner.