Depression is a familiar state of being for many individuals in the world. I have visited this state many times. And no doubt you are close to someone or are someone for whom depression is a danger for.
The “World Health Organization estimates that more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. It’s also the world’s leading cause of disability.” This is what a healthline.com article reports.
With my tendency leading to becoming another one of those more than 300 million people, this is how I keep myself not depressed and continuing on with living a successful life.
A View on Depression.
Psychologist Sigmund Freud referred to depression as “anger turned inward.” But what does that mean?
In My Life Experiment’s last article we described anger as an expression of our creative energy attempting to break free from resistances.
The more of our energy that doesn’t find it’s way into the world through us, the more aggressive the energy becomes. And the more aggressive we may become.
Now there are many ways to dysfunctionally attempt to express aggression. It can be taken out on others in a way that produces more shame and anger toward ourselves. Or we can just skip the middle man and take it out directly on ourselves.
Whichever way our angry energies don’t find a way out they will still begin or continue the growth of a depressive cycle.
Too Hard on Ourselves?
On many occasions while navigating my way through a chemical addicted life, people would tell me the same thing. “Travis, you are way too hard on yourself.” And honestly, I couldn’t even comprehend what that meant.
It is as if the hyper self-critical voice inside of my head was so convinced that life could only be an anxious mess that I couldn’t even see that I couldn’t comprehend what lightening up was.
I understand the problem for myself now though. I was stuck. Stuck in a cycle that never ended up releasing the powerful energies that grew inside.
Almost all the ways I found to help ease the inner tension, were dysfunctional and bore very little helpful fruit. Yet all the dysfunctional ways found themselves to be much easier than the healthy.
Many individuals in this world have either never found out how or have forgotten how to be healthy and happy. It is a sad thing to realize how many people are stuck on being too hard on themselves. But thankfully I know there is a way out, mainly because I have found mine.
Turning the Volume Down on Depression.
With a state called Depression it would seem that there shouldn’t be all that much mental activity happening. But I for one know that in a depressed state, the mind is painfully loud. I say painfully because the messages being repeated are about all of the unfinished emotional business that has built up over the years.
Every ended relationship, passed love one, thing that wasn’t said or was said, and unmet expectation, desires all of our attention. Desiring it so badly that it feels almost impossible to think of something else.
The pain and built up anger fuels the harshness of the internal voice. It desires to be heard so badly as if it is a victim of bodily torture saying anything to find a way out of its present moment.
I paint a desperate internal situation here because it certainly can be. But even though, there are certainly ways out of this seemingly hopeless situation.
But there is hope and the volume can be turned down. It may seem impossible but I believe that is depression doing the talking.
More on Depression and How to Turn the Volume Down.
Before I show you a list on how to turn the volume down on depression I first need to tell you that these are only my personal insights. Though I find them to be true and helpful, they are not a prescription from a trained professional.
Also it is important to know that depression and sadness are nowhere near the same thing. Sadness is a normal emotion, and to me is very important to healing and moving on with our lives. And even though constant feelings of sadness are a symptom of depression, depression is it’s own beast altogether. For more on the symptoms of depression and difference between depression and sadness check out this Healthline.com article.
Lastly it is important to know that there are different types of depression. Some forms of depression are more situational and may be easier to find our ways out of. Others are clinical and are more persistent than situational types. Both types are serious and need immediate attention. For more information on the difference between situational and clinical depression check this article out.
Now on to our list for getting on top of depression and turning the volume down.
1.Talk to a Trained Professional.
If you are feeling deeply depressed or don’t know if you are simply feeling sad more often than usual, please get your yourself checked out.
A trained professional can help ease the pain of all that pent up energy. They may prescribe a medication, give advice about taking care of ourselves and just as importantly as both of those, give us an judgment free zone to express feelings. Though even if we visit a professional we are the ones that have to put in all the hard work.
2. Follow the Doctors Orders.
So you went to see a trained professional and they gave you some ideas for taking care of yourself. I advise to do them. By visiting a professional you have already admitted there is a problem that you didn’t have an answer to. Many of us don’t want to feel controlled by the orders of a trained professional. We may think they are just trying to make money off of us, or numb out our creative potential by giving us drugs. And maybe on some occasions this may be the truth but for the most part they create a safer atmosphere for healing than we can conjure alone.
There may also be shame and self-anger involved in not being able to fend for ourselves and needing the support of another. But just remember. Who made the visit to the professional? And who is deciding to go along with the prescribed plan? Nobody is being forced into anything here. Though I definitely gained a great deal by not fighting the suggestions that were offered to me throughout my mental health recovery.
For my recovery, I took meds when they were needed. Later on when in a very good place I decided that I wanted to see what life was like without them. I went to the Dr. and expressed my desire to wean off. They said that it was worth a shot, so we came up with a plan to come off of them safely.
3. Join a Community of Healthy Like Minded Individuals.
As a recovering addict a huge part of the health of my being has been showing up to 12 step recovery fellowship. In this fellowship I have found my wife, a mentor, many friends, and helpful acquaintances. These people have helped me expose my anger and have supported me as I find new ways to express my energy.
My family has also been crucially important and can also play the role of a helpful community. Though I feel I have learned how to be a healthy part of that dynamic by having a large fellowship in recovery to spread my energy through. Many individuals that suffer from depression have a painful dynamic with family. Having a larger community to be a part of can relieve the stress and pain that the family might go through as we recover.
Please find your way into a 12 step program, a church ,a large group of close knit friends and family, or all the above. Being connected to these healthy supports can help us navigate our way through depression. And our continued connection with them will help whenever the symptoms of depression rear their ugly head once again.
4. Get on the Path of Self-Discovery.
It is easy to become completely disconnected from who we are as human beings. From birth we are told who we are and what we should believe. As life goes on the battle with self continues as we judge ourselves against the paths of others and think less of ourselves as a result. Coming back home to who we are is of the utmost importance. Although it is a path with many heavy emotions, it is also the path opening up our repressed energy to find it’s way into the world.
In my recovery I have done this by sharing about myself in hundreds of recovery meetings and many hours of one on one work with a trusted mentor.
There are ways I have gotten more in touch with myself that don’t actually require other peoples input as well. Meditation has been a very important part of getting in touch with my body. Another immensely important part of my recovery today is what I call Therapeutic Writing. Here is a link to check out the Therapeutic Writing process I use to get in touch with what I am feeling and find out more about myself.
By discovering more about ourselves we can find out what behaviors only fuel anger, shame and depression. Then we can finally leave these behaviors that don’t work for our spirits, behind. As well as come to understand what new behaviors would work better for us. Whatever way you end up learning about yourself, get on it immediately.
5. Stay Active with Multiple Hobbies.
As we leave our old Depression causing ways behind, we need new outlets for our energy. As human beings we have far too much creative energy to just be wasting it. Whether that means finding new hobbies or getting in touch with hobbies we enjoyed in the past we need to be using them as an outlet. Not finding outlets for our energy will only enhance Depression.
To me a hobby is simply an outlet for our energy. So whether you hit the gym, hang out with friends, read, under water basket weave, or whatever get busy with them. That is unless your hobbies are harmful to yourself or others. In that case, please find some new hobbies!
6. Find Ways to Give Back.
In recovery I have been able to get in touch with and release a great deal of that built up creative energy that was fueling depression, anxiety and obsession. There is soo much repressed energy that lies latent inside a depressed individual. Finding ways to use this energy for the individuals that have helped us when we couldn’t help ourselves can be extremely gratifying. It can also be very rewarding to help those who are currently unable to do much for themselves.
We can give back to a community that helps us, our family, our career or society as a whole. Helping others is an important piece of staying aware of our importance in the world. All of that energy that has been locked inside of our bodies for years may be pleased that is getting used for something meaningful.
Keep up the Fight. Whether you Battle Depression or Simply Desire to Feel Better.
It is important to understand that we need to stay grounded and in the moment to maintain our mental and emotional health. This is something that the above things on this list will help you do. But it is also very important to remember that us individuals that have become acquainted with depression, risk relapse when getting too comfortable. We must remember that recovery and maintaining a healthy, happy and content life requires a commitment to find healthy avenues for our creative energies.
When we don’t feel so hot, we must keep moving forward. Also when we are feeling on top of the world we need to continue moving forward as well. We must never give up, vigilance is key in maintaining our own sanity.
Just navigating the world is tough enough as it is for the average human being. I believe anybody can benefit from the message and tips we have given here today.
So whether you are prone to depression or not, stay strong your life is worth fighting for.
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Much Love, Travis Hagen
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