I have depression.
Oh what a difficult thing to admit. And why wouldn’t it be? It is still considered a taboo in society which makes it easier to keep silent rather than speak out.
People always suggest that I do things that make me happy because that is the best way to cure depression. But that is because they associate sadness with depression.
Sadness is an emotion. Something that requires a stimulus or a moderator. Depression on the other hand requires none of that. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain that affects the mood of a person. And that is why there are prescription meds out there that alters the chemicals in your brain so that your mood at the very least is in neutral.
For the record, when I am sad, I know how to make myself happy again. That is not the problem. The problem is when I do the things that make me happy but I can’t change the way I feel. My mood is stagnated in a rut that seems impossible to get out of because of the chemical imbalance in my brain that makes my emotional reaction not in sync with what I feel.
According to my shrink, I’ve had depression for longer than I’ve led myself to believe. Of course he could just be saying that to get money out of me. Marketing 101 right? Retaining your customers. But he seems like a good guy. He has helped me make significant improvements in my life so I shouldn’t be so cynical.
The problem…as with any problem, is the lack of knowledge about it. We will never be able to find a solution to a problem we know nothing about. Because to solve a problem, we need to be adequately educated about the issue and possess the right tools to tackle it.
And with a society uneducated about the issue and exacerbated by either their sympathy or ignorance, we need to make it better for ourselves because it’ll take time for society to fully understand the problems we face.
But for all those out there who like me are suffering from depression and the hopelessness that comes with it, let me try and help you. Learning from others has helped me and perhaps I too can pay it forward.
So here are the 5 ways you can try to curb the effects of depression.
1) Get your endorphins working
You know how if you hold a cat by the scruff of its neck it becomes relaxed? That is its endorphins being released causing it to relax. The same can be done for us. And while there may be a lot of ways, I know of two ways that have worked very well for me.
The first is to exercise. Exercise does the job and it does it well. Working out half and hour a day not only makes me feel calm but also improves my mood. Exercise releases a lot of endorphins. And if keeping fit is not a priority for you, please know that it helps with your mood significantly.
The second is sex. Now I don’t mean one night stands or prostitutes. Those are just things we do when we are horny and/or lonely. When I talk about sex, I’m talking about someone you have feelings for. The difference is significant. When I feel connected to the person, having sex releases enough endorphins for me to bottle up and sell to people.
But it’s not just for me. It is a scientific fact. And one I think everyone (whether you have depression or not) should capitalize on.
Releasing endorphins into your body can work wonders when you suffer from depression. So make full use of your body’s natural problem solving techniques.
2) Stimulate purpose
This is something that has saved me countless of times. School is tough for me. When I disagree with something or if I don’t believe in it or the system, I shut off completely. So you can see how it might affect my grades.
But despite all my disagreements, I still have a purpose in life. I know the kind of person I want to be and what I have to do to achieve it. And that is a significant motivator for a depressed person. This is because even when I have lost the will to do something and I can’t improve the way I feel, I don’t stop working at my goals. Yes it will take sooooo much longer. And yes I will feel like I am killing myself when I do it. But with purpose, I always have the end in mind. Which means even when depression hits, I take the hit and keep walking. I believe in myself.
Purpose is the muscle you require to fight depression and win.
3) Plan the life you want
This may be a tough one. I mean how do you know the life you want is the life you want? You usually don’t. That is because the life you want is based on the experience you’ve had thus far.
But planning the life I want keeps me grounded and prevents me from going over the edge. I think about suicide all the time. I just don’t do it because I value the life I have and the life I want to lead. And if you follow the plan you set for yourself, there is not many obstacles you can’t overcome.
The point I’m trying to make here is simple. You can’t help it when things don’t go your way. This is life. But when you live the life you want, rest assured you will be satisfied. And even when I’m depressed, I work towards being satisfied because you can take away my mood but you cannot take away my satisfaction.
4) Train your mind to not be dependent on escapism
Escaping any problem is not the solution. Depression is no different. We turn to drugs, alcohol or whatever to escape the reality of our sickness and hope that the fantasy we escape to will become reality. I’m sorry my friends, I tried and it didn’t work. Sooner or later I had to acknowledge that I cannot escape reality, I can only improve it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against drugs or alcohol. A little recreational flavour never hurt anyone. But if you are like me and can’t tell the difference between relaxing yourself and seeking a permanent escape, stay away from it or control your consumption.
5) Have a strong support system
My friends, my family and my girlfriend formulate the core of my support system. Without them, getting my life in order would be so much harder.
In fact not only are they my support, they are the reason why I want to become better. And that is why I feel having a strong support system might be the most important way to brush depression aside. It will also be the hardest thing to do because depression causes us to want to be isolated and recluse but I guarantee you it’ll be worth it. Don’t be afraid of being with people. It’ll work in your favour.
Trust me, life will be one giant party with a strong support system!
It’s important to tell you that I still get battered and bruised, I still fail a lot, I still try to escape and I still don’t always get it right. But so does everyone.
Everyone has got problems. The message I am trying to share with you is to educate yourself on the cause of your problems. Only then can you fix it. And don’t give up an opportunity to help someone solve theirs.
Do you have any useful tips you would like to share? If it worked for you, it might work for someone else too. 🙂