Every morning, the world has a new opportunity to talk about what Depression is and what can be done to keep people who have it from ending their lives.
So little is truly known about Depression. It’s a difficult, sometimes embarrassing conversation at best. Depression manifests itself in myriad ways to each individual. You may have symptoms that are different from mine, and some that are the same. Tips and tricks that are successful for me against its unending offense may not do it for you. I can’t pretend to be an expert on Depression, but after 30 years of surviving it I think I have something to say that might help someone else.
Of course, my standard disclaimer applies here: Take what fits and let the rest fly.
I affirm that you are strong and intelligent enough to be trusted to know yourself best.
My first suicide attempt happened when I was 15. I’ve arm-wrestled with that little demon in my head many other times through the years, but you never forget your first time. I got lucky when the valium I stole from my mother’s medicine chest was expired. I don’t think they even made me groggy. I think I cried myself to sleep.
After surviving the initial shock that her baby was up against more than she thought she could handle, my mother found a psychologist who worked on a sliding fee scale. I hated him. I refused to talk for the first few sessions. Eventually, I let my barriers down and consider myself blessed that I did. He gave me the one tool I have used consistently since then to keep the demon in my head in line. This one tool I can always count on to work when I use it:
Writing Letters to Burn
Here’s how it works. You just write a letter. Write it to the person you’re upset with. Write it to God. Write it to anyone. Say whatever you need to say, just get the thoughts down on paper and out of your head. Say anything. Say everything. Then take the letter somewhere safe and burn it. Once you burn it, it can’t hurt anyone any more.
This technique works especially well for depression based on anger turned inward.
I came across the second technique a few years later. When I notice I’m more bitter or grouchy than I want to be, I use this to feel better. It consistently provides good results and it’s highly adaptable. There are a number of ways to use this one, get creative.
2. Make a Gratitude List
It’s as simple as it says. Just start writing down the things you have to be grateful for. Sometimes getting the list started is a stretch in itself, but if you can push yourself over the hump you really start to pick up steam around item 10. Make the list as long or as short as you like, and feel free to get silly. Go on a mission to hunt down the silver lining in any cloudy situation. It’ll help you feel better, I promise.
This next one is probably the hardest one for me to put into action, but I guarantee you it does work.
No, I’m not talking about selling your house, packing your stuff and hitting the road. I mean, get your body in motion! Notice I didn’t say exercise. Why? Because I’m not trying to hook your issues about what you “should” and “shouldn’t” do, and it’s not about “exercise” per say. It’s about moving around. Give your eyes something else to look at, get your heart pumping, give those endorphins a tour of your circulatory system! There are tons of ways to get in motion. Go for a walk, ride a bike to the corner store, or my own personal favorite: lock the bedroom door, blast your favorite live album and perform for the bathroom mirror. Don’t worry, the cat won’t tell.
I should do this next one far more often than I do, simply because it’s a lot of fun. But to be honest, when in the grips of a depressive episode, things that are fun to do don’t often occur to me.
4. Do something nice for someone else!
I used to bake a lot and joked with the other mom’s that baking kept me sane. I was the only one who knew it wasn’t a joke. I baked because it made me feel secure and content, and when I shared whatever I baked with others, it made me feel good.*
*This also applies to gardening and sharing tomatoes and zucchini.
There are millions of ways beyond baking and gardening to make this one work in your world. You could combine 1, 2, and 3 to do 4 if you want. In other words, Write a letter (1) to someone expressing how grateful (2) you are for their presence in your life, then walk it over to them (3) and brighten their day (4)! Simple!
My final suggestion to you is my secret weapon. I’ve been using tapping on and off for over 10 years, and I can tell you from experience it has been a blessing for so many areas of my life.
5. Emotional Freedom Technique
EFT is a form of energy psychology that unhooks the negative emotions from our memories, freeing us from emotionally reliving trauma from the past. You can find everything you need to learn EFT for yourself with a simple Google search, but save yourself the trouble and download my video on EFT Basics here. Emotional Freedom Technique works miracles when it comes to putting the demon to sleep. I highly recommend it.