Depression is approached from a myriad of ways. There’s no real silver bullet in its diagnosis as there are a number of factors at play. Neurological, behavioral, environmental variables are all a part of it.
For me a combination of diet, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and changes in hobbies have helped stem the tide of depression but it’s not the same for everyone. The article above by Johann Hari; an extract from his book Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutionsl delivers an interesting perspective. The notion that another factor in depression relates to a sense of self worth and how people view their work life or other unfulfilled needs. Personally I would say I have for many years been a workaholic. I enjoyed challenges and the job generally was fulfilling. As the years continued though I know my satisfaction wavered here and there. Eventually I had to depersonalize my job as I felt it was a major factor in my increasing depression. These days, while I still have the same job, I try to frame the challenges within it differently. I don’t treat the ups and downs of my job as a reflection of who I am as a person. While it’s helped, it’s still an ongoing struggle. I enjoy what I do, not always the other conditions around it.
While this is obviously not something necessarily easily changed it provides another angle with which to attack the problem. I’ve always been a proponent that any been of information is ammo in a fight and this is just another resource to be considered.
Where does the time go right? It’s just a stones throw away to 2018. Found the above article and gave it a once over. It’s a good read and one that I think some people will benefit from. Rumination is something I’ve struggled with quite a bit and for some of my friends who also suffer from depression and anxiety I know it’s one of those recurrent specters that always lurks around the corner. There are maybe three times a year where I start to slide down that slippery slope and New Years is definitely the most painful.
I’ve generally found that with mental health issues there’s two fundamental approaches that are taken. Some focus on processing through the things that make you fearful, or exposing yourself to them so that you learn to face your aversion. The other is learning to steer clear of those triggers and finding a way to be mindful of it. New Years is one of those times where social interaction and gathering with friends is the norm. I’ve never liked crowds, and especially hate the idea of forced fun. New Years and New Years Eve celebrations have always been something I went to for the sake of others. Fake it till you make it types of moments. In the past, when I was dating or married I’d go along with it as it was my duty as a boyfriend or spouse. These days I don’t try to push myself out there unless I’m comfortable. Now some folks will look at that and just argue that I’m simply letting depression win, that I’m not changing things for the better. On the contrary however, just because I’m not out celebrating doesn’t mean I’m not processing through things. In the past I’d go out, have a few drinks, try to fake a smile and say all the usual platitudes. “Oh it’s an awesome year and I’m so grateful.” Regardless of how I actually felt about the state of things. These days, I stopped trying to put on that face.
The past few years I’ve spent New Years at home, curled up with a book, my journal and my tech. I know that I’m going to reminisce, I know I’ll look back at the things I’ve lost, the person I was and what’s changed. That’s bad though is what you’re thinking right? You’d be half right. I look back, I recognize that things are different, but I also try to look at how I’ve weathered the storm, how I’ve changed little by little. I focus on re-framing my replay of memories and focus on what has changed for the better, or what I know I should focus on for the next year. When you have depression and anxiety getting sucked TOO far into nostalgia is dangerous so I always have to pace myself. I don’t get so engrossed in going backwards that I stop looking ahead. I read through my journal and remember how I got through the rough times. I look at my projects and see that I finished something or I made progress. That keeps me going, that gives me ideas for the next year. I’m not out to be seen, I shun fame and attention. I don’t try to impress folks with my accolades anymore. I just try to see the good things in me that I should continue to nurture or the things I need to try and improve.
If you’re facing that sense of dread as the year winds down I fully understand. It’s easy to start stacking up those memories like dominoes and watching them fall. Re-framing how you view the last year is not trivial, it takes time. If you’re struggling reach out, be heard. Don’t let how everyone else celebrates dictate undue pressure on you. If you want to be around friends, that’s great, find friends you can trust and an activity that works. If you know drinking or other triggers are there, let folks know. The holidays are stressful and sad for a lot of folks but finding a safe way to navigate it pays out in the end.
I happened upon this article and thought it was a good suggestion right around Valentine’s Day. A painful aspect of depression stems from the tendency towards doing the opposite of what reflex would tell you to do.
For me I realize when my depression continued to escalate I became harder and harder to live with. The best comparison is being a porcupine. The last thing you want to do is keep that close to you or cuddle it. To both those around the person experiencing depression as well as the person him/herself, instinct gravitates towards the opposite of what should be done. Tenderness is not the first reflex when someone is starting to withdraw or became more irritable than normal.
The most difficult thing about the experience (from the perspective of the depressed person) is that you can’t step out of your own mind and objectively assess what’s happening. You feel as though you want to withdraw from social situations and not seek help.
If you or your significant other are experiencing these types of things, try to take that big leap and objectively look at your circumstances. Reach out, communicate to someone of your pain. It’s the hardest first step, sometimes it can lead to empathy, sometimes confusion, potentially rejection but you have to take it.