True Confessions: I’ve experienced recurrent bouts of severe depression since early adulthood. It hit for the first time when I was a junior in college. Most likely kicked off due to a sports injury which temporarily sidelined my collegiate track career. Of course, that was just the surface reason, the deeper issue being my plans being completely disrupted by things outside of my control (my body breaking down due to overuse). Ever since then some years are better than others, but depression is a constant bete noire in my life. I’ve never been able to completely eradicate it.. It crouches in the corner ready to pounce if I am not on top of it.
Every person must do intense research and decide the matter for themselves.
I refuse medication because I actually read the inserts of medications that are recommended to me. I long ago decided that the temporary relief of depression (most SSRI only provide relief for a short amount of time) are not worth the risks. I’ve seen what those medications have done to friends and that path is not for me. Lastly, I am from a family that typically eschews modern pharmaceuticals because they “fix” one thing and break two others. I personally like my kidneys, liver and almost all bigpharma products don’t play nice with those organs. And though my brain often turns on me I know what it is capable of when it is firing on all cylinders and so mostly like it too. And with no trust fund, no husband, and senior citizen parents, it’s kinda all I got.
Depression is not the issue, depression is a symptom or an expression of the issue it is the warning bell, to suppress the warning bell is not to fix the problem, it is to create a bigger one somewhere else. If the fire alarm goes off and you stuff cotton in your ears or you unplug it because it is disturbing your peace, don’t be surprised when your house burns down.
It is my strong belief that my depression is due less to chemical imbalances in the brain and more to living in a patriarchal, capitalistic, violent, domineering, monotheistic, avaricious, anti-life and living culture. Coupled with my idealistic, perfectionistic nature that refuses to be content with a life that does not precisely live up to the vision I have set for it. In short, my depression is mostly situational. My life looks like how I want it to be, no depression, when it does not live up to my expectations, severe depression. Knowing this only helps slightly. Over the years I’ve found coping mechanisms that have helped tremendously. WHEN I PRACTICE THEM. Too often I don’t, when I don’t; I pay the price. If you also suffer from depression, lethargy, and anxiety perhaps the following tips will help you as well:
1. Have you made a sincere effort to connect with the divine? Either by meditation, prayer, communing with nature or the reading of sacred texts. Did you start your day this way? Or have you scheduled and blocked out time for this important activity? Or is it routinely an afterthought?
2. Have you practiced gratitude? Made a list of what you are grateful for? Called someone to say thank you, or written a thank you note?
3. Have you selfcared? Taken a nap, taken time for your hobby? Journaled? Exercised? Taken the time to truly nurture your body with healthy chemical free food?
4. Have you reviewed your goals and life vision? Do you have goals and a life vision that you are excited about and have the confidence to pursue?
5. Have you done something kind for others? Your family, your community, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, neighbors, the elderly that are in your circle?
6. Do you have something in the near future to look forward to? A vacation, recreational activity, reconnection with an old friend.
7. Has it been too long since you’ve ruthlessly edited? Commitments, things, entertainment, and lifestyle choices including people in your life that no longer fit who and what you are and your life priorities.
8. Did you do at least one fun thing today? Even if it was only fifteen minutes of fun and joy? No? Is joy, fun and delight even important to you? Do you think you don’t deserve it? You don’t have time? If so, what kind of life have you created where you don’t even have 15 minutes for fun?
If you regularly do all these things and on balance your mood, life, and outlook has not improved. Then deeper work is probably in order. You may want to start with an in depth reading of the following: Mind Renewal: A series of short articles on Depression.
To your health, XO,
Shalina Nicohl Rankin