Updated: Dec 15, 2020
Depression the invisible war
So many people, young and old struggle with depression an invisible tormentor that dictates how they feel and to some extent what they do! Many people who don’t have this ‘invisible dictator’ struggle to understand how it takes power over someone and inhibits them from enjoying the simple things in life.
For someone who has depression getting up in the morning and smiling because they can hear the birds singing is hard.
For someone who has not had depression, if you imagine feeling numb, feeling like there is no hope and can’t seem to get motivated and feeling empty / imprisoned. This is how most people who struggle with depression feel.
For a young person, can you imagine feeling this low and still have to perform, learn at school?
Or an older person say a mother, father etc. still having to go to work, still have to look after the children?
Depression can be like being in the middle of a war and not knowing what to do or how to feel. Except feel like all is lost and hopeless. Depression can be quite isolating, as the person with depression stops seeing people or doing things they once did before.
Sometimes, people who around a person who has depression may say unhelpful things like ‘snap yourself out of it’ or ‘stop being too sensitive’. These type of unhelpful comments just reinforce the negative feelings that come along with the depression.
If you read my last blog on anxiety and how the brain sends out negative hormones or the good feeling hormones. The same applies here in terms of what is needed to reduce the negative hormones and release the ‘happy hormones’.
So how can we change our mindset to help ourselves?
There are many things you can do to minimise the effects of depression, however, first you must make an agreement with yourself that you want to change the way you think.
If you decide this is what you want the strategies below may help. We need to start by raising the ‘good feeling hormones’ easier said than done you may think? However did you know that small simple changes can have an affect on your emotional wellbeing? Try some of the strategies and give them a fair chance e.g. do them for at least a week or two before reviewing them.
· Going to the supermarket and making an effort to smile or say hello to people who you would normally walk past Every time we smile our brain releases a little of those ‘good feeling hormones’. So can you imagine if you smile 10 times during your visit to the supermarket you release 10 small amounts of ‘good feeling hormones’.
· Going for a walk, I know it can be hard to motivate yourself to get up and go out. However, this is about making positive changes, so go for a walk and whilst your out take in your surroundings. E.g. what can you see, what can you hear, what can you smell? Think about the things you like whilst your out. Do you like the sound of the birds or the sound of children playing in the school playground etc. When we enjoy something our body/brain tells us that you have enjoyed that and releases more ‘good hormones’.
· Make some cards (big enough to put in your pocket, purse or bag) one side put one of you negative thoughts and on the other write the opposite of the negative thought. When you start to think negative take your card out that represents that feeling or situation and turn it over and look at the positive side and repeat it 3 times to yourself. This strategies works well with many different situations.
· Using a piece of paper write on one side your negative thinking and on the other side write how you would like things to be like. This can be powerful in terms of changing mindsets.
· Write a gratitude list, looking at the smallest things you feel good about can be a start to making change. For example, grateful for the first cup of tea or coffee in the morning, feeling warm in your house, being glad that you feel, because this makes you alive. The smallest thing to be grateful for is as important for the biggest things.
· Try using exercises on the internet e.g. mindfulness, relaxations, visualisations these all help to promote those good hormones.
· Did you know that drinking water can help us feel better, water helps to flush toxins out of our bodies and can help us to be hydrated. Someone who is not hydrated can present as forgetful or think irrationally.
· Make a list of people who you can speak to if you’re having a particularly bad day, these can include organisations that you can speak to if you are feeling low.
· Recognising triggers to you feeling low, what situations affect your emotional wellbeing. Where do the negative feelings start?, if it is in your head then maybe once you recognise it carry out some of these strategies, as they all promote positive wellbeing.
· Volunteering, can help give us a sense of purpose and something to get out of bed for if we feel lonely or isolated.
· Getting the right help, if you are struggling to regulate your depression and you feel your medication is not working, always seek further advice and help. Remember it is okay not to be okay.
· Reflecting back, how were you before you’re your depression? What did you like? What did you do? Would you like to do these again?
I hope you have found this useful, remember you don’t have to be alone in your depression and it does not have to win the war over you, so to speak. Your depression does not have to define you and take over everything.
For those who are reading this because they know someone who has depression, remember you too have a role in supporting your friend or family member. If you have not heard from them in a while, reach out to them, go to their home and have a cup of tea or coffee with them. Telephone them etc. Say the words most people feel awkward in saying "are you okay?" Remember you little act of kindness, can help them to feel part of this world again.
You can be the person you want to be by changing your mindset and trying different strategies that will combat the negative hormones that are currently winning the war inside of you.