Ways to Cope with Symptoms of Depression
A Shroud of Darkness
Depression stinks. Let’s face it. It cuts you off from life and tells you that you have no purpose. That you are worthless, insignificant, and even unwanted. Depression places darkness over your head and shrouds you in a cloak of hopelessness, telling you that tomorrow will be worse off than today and the day after that has no hope of being better either. You stop trying. Days feel like years, and nights seem like decades. Each breath taken so laborious that you don’t always feel the strength to continue with another, yet still is something inside that tells you to need to continue to try. The energy required for this task leaves your exhausted and withdrawn, far from family and loved ones alike. As a result, you sink deeper into this dark pit, alone and afraid. Your inner voice too meek to speak over the lies that have taken hold.
Life Can Look Greener on the Other Side
In these moments of most despair, you yearn to live the lives of others believing that your life would only be better if… You peek through the fences of social media, become voyeurs through flickering images of reality television, finding others who are seemingly more happy and prosperous than you. You see life on the other side and it appears greener and you covet it. Not just a little greener, but a rich saturation of green that appears almost unnatural and unreal. You crave with every fiber of your being to feel those grass blades tickle your toes and to rest in the sunshine as it soaks your skin. You want their seemingly perfect little families, careers, and homes with white picket fences dotting the tree line.
You long it all, but feel deserving of none of it at the same time. As a result, your mind starts to ponder the contradiction. What did I do so wrong that I don’t get to enjoy such things? Why do I not deserve to experience happiness and to take pleasure in life experiences? You find fault in yourself where there are no faults, you place blame where no blame exists. You take on the burden of life for others, leaving nothing left to care for yourself.
Small Changes Can Add Up
Life does not have to be this way. It can change and you have the strength to make that happen. You must decide to do something different today than you did yesterday, taking one little step at a time. Maybe it starts with a nice warm shower, a favorite coffee, or picking up some flowers to place on the kitchen counter. Then it becomes a walk at sunset, cooking a favorite meal, or even an afternoon call to a long-time friend.
As days of light and feelings of contentment, love is welcomed back into your heart one beat at a time. It is in these moments that you realize that the greener side of others can be yours as well. You just need to water what you have.
So in this season of spring, go out and till your garden, cultivate your talents, invest in your family. Be the person you want to be. Soon your garden will be as green as the others and you will be enjoy the life that you have desired to have through all the darkness that you have experienced.
If you are curious about the steps to take, there are many that you could follow. Below are some that you may consider though to get started.
Ideas to Get Started
- Reach out by phone to a loved one. This could be a family member or a dear friend, someone who could offer a shoulder to lean on and a listening ear. Support from those who care about you can provide significant encouragement as you begin to step out again.
- Make a list of past interests and hobbies and see which activities would be the most appealing to you. Maybe consider researching new activities to engage in. By focusing your thoughts on positive and worthwhile events, out mind can be diverted from thoughts that may otherwise bring us down.
- Make a gratitude journal. By focusing on the people and things that you have in life, the focus and attention of other individual’s lives will become less important. Focus on what you have and the people that surrounds you rather than the lives and possessions of others.
- Seek professional assistance. If depression is causing a great impact on your life, a therapist can assist in breaking though the barriers of the mental health issue and help you develop positive strategies to cope with life, helping you to move to a more happy and healthy life.
Visit chihealth.com/behavioral to connect with a CHI Health mental health provider. We offer in-person and virtual therapy sessions with our team of licensed mental health therapists.
Tracy Glantz, MS, is an Educational Therapist at CHI Health.