Confronting Depression

Depression sucks. Some people are more vocal about what they are going through, while others suffer in silence. There is risk to keeping quiet because there’s not much worse than suffering alone. But at the same time, there is also risk in speaking up because you might feel like people are mistaking your depression for weak-mindedness.

So what the hell is a depressed person to do? Just take it out on someone? That doesn’t sound quite right. Drink it away? Drugs? Sex? A high would be nice, but that will eventually fade and lead to feeling worse. Listen to some music, exercise, eat a healthy meal, talk to a professional, chill outside? Those are better options– healthier and less destructive. But we’ll come back to them later.

Now here’s another approach. Just sit with the depression for ten minutes. Sit in a chair with your back straight. Focus on the breath and the rise and fall of the chest. Just be aware of the depression and how it feels in the body and mind. If ten minutes is too long or if it’s too intense, shorten the time. You can handle a minute or 30 seconds. You’re strong enough. The point here is that you got to go through the depression to get to the other side.

Depression is tall and wide. There is no way around or over it; only a way through it. And if you just ignore it, you stay stuck psychologically, and it will continue to stare you right in the eyes. You may look away, kind of like a child does to an authority figure. But now it’s time to grow up. It’s time to acknowledge that, yes, depression is tough, but so are you. Sit still, breathe, and stare back.

That is what the technique described above allows you to do. It reminds me of when boxers stare at each other face-to-face before a fight. They are signalling that confrontation is inevitable. Depression is similar. By sitting with it, you are engaging in the stare down. A sense of courage will eventually build through repeated stare downs, and you will be able to chart a clear course of action with time.

This brings me back to the healthy strategies. Eventually the stare down must lead to direct confrontation, and confrontation involves action. Indeed, depression is mental, but it’s also behavioral. In other words, as much as you think depressing thoughts and feel depressing feelings, you also do depressing doings. I recommend changing behavior first. It’s not the only method, but I have found it to be a nice place to start.

Here’s why. The change is concrete. Thoughts and feelings are abstract, which can overwhelm a depressed mind. Behavior is more simply understood, and the great thing about this approach is that behavioral change often leads to changes in thought and mood patterns.

So, start by taking a five minute walk everyday. Schedule it in your day and COMMIT. I like starting off with walking because it gives you the sensation that you are going somewhere because you are. Exercise of this sort is a natural antidepressant. The research is darn-near conclusive.

There. Now you’re off and walking. You’re moving in the right direction, which is the point of life. Of course, it usually takes more than one round to defeat depression, and sometimes depression may come back for a re-match. But my hope is that maybe the sentences herein can get you into the ring.

One Comment on “Confronting Depression

  1. Very insightful. I appreciated the information you presented. Well put, Scott. Think I’ll take a walk.

    Like

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