Friday, 19 June 2009

Dealing with Day-to-Day Depression

depressed girl in woods @ charadeImage thanks to april

As soon as someone lifts their head and utters that devilishly destructive word 'depression', it’s as if whole worlds go up in smoke, a personality disappears, a life goes down the drain. Admitting it is like saying ‘hey, I have no life, the absence of which I pine for every darn second of the day, please feel intensely sorry for me.’ Depression is a big, dirty word to most, and it is judged accordingly.

But we of the real world know a different story. We’re aware that, every so often, things just aren’t quite peachy as we’d like them to be, and we hit a downer. It doesn’t mean we’ve lost the will to live, or that we’re beyond help. It just means we’re down. It can come and go in mere minutes or hours, sometimes it can last days, or even weeks depending on our individual circumstances. There’s no shame in it, and there’s certainly no ignoring it.

Life is made up of innate peaks and troughs which we conquer daily. This creates rhythm and variety. Getting occasionally stuck or stalled in this rhythm is perfectly natural. Imagine living on a constant high-note: there’d be no time to check-in with yourself; life would become samey, boring in its persistent perfection. You’d become one-dimensional, superficial, like a sugar-free lollipop that looks the biz but tastes of nothing. It’s like bouncing on a trampoline: you have to go down before you come up, otherwise you’re just… hovering, coldly, three feet in the air – where’s the fun in that?

Sometimes, things can be going along just fine, with no cause for concern, and then, out of nowhere, you’re hit with the blues. It is nature’s way of telling you that something is off, whether you are aware of it or not, and that time is needed for a little self-love and lesson learning. It’s the swing of the pendulum, the swell and crash of your rich emotional reserves, like the waves of an ocean, making their presence felt, not allowing you to forget the gentle sensitivities and concealed yearnings of your deepest, truest self.

We can’t ignore these dips, as unpleasant as they might feel, they’re part of what makes us human, but, equally, we can’t let them take over our lives. We must accept them for what they are: low, humming notes in the orchestra of our existence, a platform upon which we can build the highest, most glorious peaks of ourselves. Let us deal with down-days, let us deal with that dastardly label ‘depression’.

Don’t push yourself. The biggest mistake I’ve made in the past when dealing with day-to-day depression is that I’ve tried to steam through it: ‘I’ve got no time for this fiddle-faddle, there’s work to be done’ and ultimately have failed to acknowledge that there is a deeper issue. When you feel the pangs of depression, stop. Take a breather; sit with your thoughts for a moment. What’s up? If you can’t decipher the exact problem, simply allow yourself the chance to cheer-up. Stick on a favourite movie, run a bubble bath, shut out the world for a few blissful moments.

Treat yourself like an old friend. What would you do for them if they were down? You deserve the same care and attention. Take yourself out, buy yourself a small gift, pamper yourself, listen to your wants and needs and grant them where possible.

Try something new. The eternal mystery of why we can suddenly feel out of sorts when nothing has actually changed can be solved with the knowledge that, as a species, we desire variety, newness, surprise and adventure. If your life has been ticking over at a particularly high level of hunky-dory in the past months, consider breaking with convention and set yourself a new challenge. It can be anything from taking up a new hobby to a whole new career direction.

Get to know your body. As females we are far more susceptible to emotional upsets than our male counterparts. That’s not because we’re sissies, it is due to our hormones. Know that your body is working in different ways for you at different times of the month and that you have to make allowances for these changes. If you feel down, teary for no reason and physically tired, it will often be a result of hormonal changes. Accept the situation for what it is, take a time-out, and don’t indulge in your feelings so far as to drag up other emotional issues (they are better dealt with when you have a clearer perspective!)

Inspire your senses. Your senses are integral to the way you feel about the world around you, of course they are; they make up your only real impression of it. That’s why on a grey, dull day you often feel lousy– your senses aren’t being enlivened by the bright sun. Treat all your senses to a little wake-up call; listen to some of your favourite, most uplifting music, make your self a particularly spicy or zesty meal, get out for a walk in the elements – even if it’s raining – smell the air and really feel the world around you.

Think about it. The mind is a very powerful tool, and if you really want to, you can alter your outlook on just about anything. Dwell on the positive aspects in your life for long enough and you might just find those negative feelings have melted away.

Do you suffer the odd down-day? Have you struggled to come to terms with bouts of depression? How have you dealt with wavering emotions in the past?


sherin said...

Brilliant post. Depression really is somerthing that isn't discussed enough. This really is great.

A said...

I think being down is a very different thing to depression. Totally agree with the suggestions you list here as ways to deal with the blues, but clinical depression is very different, needing pyschological or drug treatment, and writing it off as just a low mood delays getting that help.

Voila Megan said...

Sherin - Thanks alot, I think it's a valid topic even in the fashion-saturated corner of the blogosphere (perhaps especially in the fashion-saturated corner of the blogosphere...) and I think it's something we should feel comfortable discussing openly. Left unacknowledged and supressed, even small bouts of depression are liable to get out of control.

A - Good point, perhaps I didn't highlight the distinction well enough. Depression is used as a very loose term I find. Both my mother and sister have bi-polar disorder which is often referred to as depression even though it rarely looks anything like it. Day-to-day depression does exist though, and I was trying to put across that we shouldn't be ashamed of it, but where does the line cross over into clinical depression? I don't know. It's a tricky topic. Thanks for your input.

Leia said...

Thanks for this post. I've had to deal with depression living alone and very far away from home as an international student, and being in London means that all my friends lived very far apart, leaving me with some very lonely days! This is especially true in the winter and during exam-time when I don't leave the house much. My tips:

- Make an effort to see family, and cook a big family meal and eat together.

- Try to get together with friends, no matter how difficult it may be. Go out for lunch with a girlfriend, or do something unusual and fun.

- Indulge in something that gives you pleasure. Playing the piano, going for a walk in a beautiful place, taking pictures... anything that makes you smile.

- Exercise. As much as I hate it, it really does lift your mood afterwards!

ericaleexo said...

I somehow missed this in my Google Reader but I'm so very glad I found it today! I think that depression - & just the "day-to-day depression" you speak of - is an often overlooked, touchy kinda subject. I'm happy you took the time out to write about it & give some advice. I think college students in particular get RIDICULOUSLY stressed @ certain times & we all need some ideas about how to decompress when need be. I like the idea of invigorating your senses - I never really thought about it that way before, but it's totally true. Eating a delicious meal almost ALWAYS makes me feel 10x better. : )


Jimmy said...

Over coming depression is not impossible. Ya but depressed person should not stay alone and should convey and share their problems with friends, it feels relaxed. Also socializing helps a lot. So one should go out in fresh air.

HannahClaire said...

I found this article really interesting as I suffer from clinical depression. My depression though is not circumstantial, it's hormonal - so no matter how amazing my life was (which it was; wonderful family, home, school, boyfriend etc) I could not bring myself out of the horrible way I felt. I am now on medication for it and it has completely changed my life! I think depression is really something that should be discussed more and I'm glad to see that it is becoming something that is becoming less of a taboo, so that people can realize that depression is not necessarily feeling unhappy or to do with the situation you are in - sometimes no about of socializing or 'happy thinking' will do the trick.

national depression awareness week is coming up soon - April 18th to 24th.

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