I was recently corresponding with someone who is struggling with depression and I was going to offer some suggestions that I learned from my recovery. Then it occurred to me that others might benefit so I decided to post my suggestions here.
- In my struggles with depression, I came to view my depression as something separate and apart from me. I came to think of it as a monster that wanted to kill me. This helped me in a number of ways, but most importantly it helped me to see myself as a person of worth who was fighting for my life against an unseen foe. Not “What’s wrong with me?”, but “What am I fighting?”
- The monster wanted me to sit and do nothing but ruminate. That made the monster stronger. This was especially bad if I went off by myself and let negative thoughts chase themselves around and around my head. So, I vowed to do the opposite of what the monster wanted–to do something. What I did was less important than the doing of it.
- The monster lied to me all the time. It told me what a worthless person I was–unlovable, in fact. When I believed that lie I was afraid to reach out to others, so my social needs were not met. So, I discovered I had to act in spite of how I felt and let people know who I really was.
- In fact, acting in spite of how I felt became a theme. Feeling like doing nothing? So something. Feeling like isolating? Reach out.
- I learned about mindfulness and started doing a deep relaxation mindfulness meditation practice. The deep relaxation helped the anxiety that went hand in hand in hand with the depression. Learning to be in the present moment with acceptance helped with everything.
Of course, recovery from depression is hard, scary work. However, these 5 tips helped me and I hope they can help others. It is all about learning, really–learning new skills and practicing them, learning new attitudes and learning acceptance.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) are both effective in dealing with depression. They are all about learning new skills.
You may wonder “What about medication?” Well, medication can be very effective in alleviating symptoms while you do the hard work of recovery. If you make the changes you need you will keep that monster at bay.