HEALING FROM DEPRESSION

Most people who haven’t struggled with depression have little idea how hard you have to work to get through a day, keep the details of life together, and be pleasant to the people in your world.  With all the struggle to just cope, it feels impossible to take steps forward toward a goal or dream.

Maybe you are yearning to be coping less and living more.

Are you experiencing some these symptoms of depression?

·         Lethargy and overwhelm                                            

·         Changes in appetite or sleep

·         Despair about the future

·         Obsessive, self-critical thoughts

·         Procrastination

·         Overwhelm

·         Irritability

·         Feeling flat

·         Not finding pleasure in usually pleasurable things

·         Difficulty making decisions

·         Disorganization of material things and of time

If you are experiencing some of this list, I am so sorry.  I have been through depression and have a clue of the burden you are carrying throughout your day.

I work together with clients as a team to do the detective work to determine what feeds a particular client’s depression and what we can do to unwind the downward pattern. 

REVERSING DEPRESSION

When we are not honoring the truth of how we feel, what we don’t want, and what we do want, depression can arise.

I have found 4 key choices that can reverse the cycle of depression.

ACCEPTING HOW WE ARE FEELING

Our culture shames us for having feelings.  We get the message that having “negative feelings” means we are weak or less-than. 

“Big boys don’t cry.” “Don’t be a scaredy cat.” “She’s such an uptight b%#&!”   Being angry is particularly unseemly for women.

Squishing emotions is a recipe for depression.  Yet most all of us consciously or unconsciously try to sweep negative feelings about our lives under the carpet.  We all would prefer to feel positive emotions and focus on gratitude and be optimistic.   

But being willing to admit to yourself that a part of life is actually not working is a huge step forward.  Maybe you need to see and accept that you are pissed at your partner, or disappointed by your family, or bored by your job of many years.

BEING REAL WITH OTHERS

When we say to people in our world what we truly need or want, it can be an anti-depressant.  Getting real about how we really feel about parts of our lives can be a huge step forward in depression recovery.

Jessie was scared of conflict.  Her partner Greg was being a jerk again, and making subtle critical comments.  She kept silent in order to avoid a fight – to keep the peace.  She was trying to keep positive and ignore how disappointed and angry she felt.  The more she held her tongue, the more depressed she got.

With support, Jessie was able to tell Greg that she loved him, but it wasn’t OK to speak with her that way.  Whenever he started to say critical things, she would point them out and leave the room.  Greg started apologizing for his behavior, and ended up no longer talking to her like that.  Jessie felt empowered, feeling really good about how she had raised the bar in their relationship.  She started to find her depression lightening.

SAYING NO TO WHAT WE DON’T WANT

Another pattern that feeds depression is avoiding setting limits in our world.  Maybe we say yes, even though it doesn’t feel right.

Our bodies are our reference point for knowing where our true limits lie. 

Imagine that Dirk, a frat boy comes up to you and tells you to clean up after last Saturday’s keg party.  What would you feel emotionally?  Maybe you feel angry that he would treat you like a servant. 

As you imagine considering saying “yes” to him, what sensations would you feel in your body?  Does it make your skin crawl?  Or a sick feeling in your gut? 

Or perhaps your mother-in-law continues to ask you to do things for her that she is capable of doing herself.  You keep complying because you think you “should” in order to be a good daughter-in-law.  You know you much rather use that time for exercise than for placating her.  You find yourself getting more irritable with your family and kids, and you start feeling depressed.

When we say no to what doesn’t really work for us, it is a step forward to healing depression.

MAKING LIFE CHOICES THAT TRULY REFLECT WHAT WE DO WANT

When we make life choices that honestly reflect what we truly enjoy, value, and love, depression can lift.  James was a successful corporate lawyer.  He found himself dreading going to work, feeling like he was walking through mud at work, and noticed that he felt better as soon as he left for home.

James knew deep inside that he really rather be working with small business owners.  He had a family to provide for, so how could he give up his lucrative work?  James felt trapped in a man-cage of being the reliable provider. 

He started researching and planning how to start his own small business law firm.  As soon as he started the process, his depression lifted.   A few years later, James followed what he truly wanted and made the leap.  

LOOKING AT THE PHYSICAL

Sometimes there is a key biochemical piece.   My job is to do the detective work with you to get to the bottom of it.  If low thyroid, peri-menopause, or anemia is fueling the depression, we don’t want to get sidetracked with only psychological work without tending to what is needed medically.  Or maybe you are genetically prone to depression.   I have had many clients who have seen great relief from working with their medical provider whether it is an MD, nurse practitioner, or naturopath. 

Maybe a key for you is that you are sensitive to the short days of winter.  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can easily go undiagnosed.  A simple way to interrupt the depression cycle is making sure you get time early in the day by a sunny window or outside without sunglasses or that you use a special light box for 15 – 20 minutes every morning.

FINDING FREEDOM FROM THE POWER OF DEPRESSED THINKING

Depressed brains generate negative, distorted thoughts.

Do any of these sound familiar?

“I never do anything right.”   -  This is the common pattern of over-generalized thinking of “always” or a ‘never.”

“I will always be depressed.”   -  Fortune telling - as if you for sure know what will happen.

“I’m a mean person.”   -  Self-labeling that isn’t anchored in time.  Truly mean people don’t really care that they are acting mean.  What might be more true is: “Wow.  I have been saying a lot of critical things lately.  I think I’m going to get help changing that behavior.”

“I should be going to the gym every single day!”   -  We focus on impossible “shoulds” rather than on the next realistic and doable step.  Maybe what is more true and useful is that you can start back to exercising by choosing to go on walks with a trusted friend twice a week because it’s something you actually enjoy and have no resistance to doing.

Depressed thoughts can be arrogant bullies.  I use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with clients to expose the fibs in these distorted, untrustworthy thoughts.  It is possible to find the ability to not buy into them.

“I’m finding it hard to call a counselor. “

I know that taking the first step to relief can be overwhelming especially with depression.  It takes courage.  I have helped many people find relief.  There is a way out.

Our culture has a powerful, long-standing stigma around depression.  You can get help for depression despite still feeling some of the stigma and shame.  The shame doesn’t have to be gone before choosing to get help.

“Will this actually work?  Or maybe it will be a waste of time and money.”

That’s a really valid concern.  Another thought that might have an equal chance of being true is that this might work and might be really worthwhile.  When depressed, our brains gravitate toward the negative future.  It seems to be some attempt to forecast doom so that we can protect ourselves from it.  But luckily our beliefs can be flawed, and people can heal and lives improve. 

I am available to speak with you either on the phone or at my office for a free half-hour consultation.  You can check me out to see if working with me feels right.  If not, I would be happy to refer you to other counselors I respect.

If what I have written makes you feel I might be a good fit, I hope you take the step of calling or emailing me today.

If you would like me to contact you please email me at judy@wellnesscoachcolorado.com.  Or you can call or text me at (303) 819-2099.

Wishing you moments of peace as you navigate your path out of depression,

Judy