Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come too talk to you again. The incidence of depression is starting to become out of control. As we live in an age of convenience, comfort, round the clock access to everything and anything, something is still not quite right.
We have everyTHING we need for the most part, and to an extent everything we want (that matters). So whats the deal? Which of our needs aren’t met?
Something must be amiss if an increasing number of us are falling upon dark times.
Depression is a tough one. It can crop up in response to many things:
- Breakups or the loss of loved ones
- Poor nutrition
- A sense of disconnect from self and other
- Living a out of alignment with your values, selling your values for the pursuit of what society deems to be a successful life
- Unhealthy or damaged relationships
Depression is a complicated conundrum in its many forms, be it brought about by physical, spiritual, mental or emotional pain.
We Tend To See Depression As That Black Hole That We Dread To Get Sucked Into
Too right, who wants to be lethargic, moody, uninspired, unambitious, antisocial, and just a general drag. Nobody, thats who.
Just because we don’t want this to happen doesn’t mean it wont. BUT, what if our understanding about the occurrence of depression is backwards.
What if this seemingly dark abyss was actually trying to help us? Are we being prompted to examine ourselves? What if the message was to look at the way we think, the way we act, the way we feel, the way we LIVE!
What If All This Wasn’t Happening To Us, But For Us?
Thats a lot of what ifs but you get the point.
In a world that has become saturated with distractions, have we become detached from what truly brings us Joy? Isn’t that what depression is, the scarcity of Joy in ones life?
Its hard to get excited about things when you’re depressed, even the things that are dearest to your heart and soul, and its a killer. But damn it, thats all the more reason to figure out whats going on.
I like to think of depression as a period of hibernation to examine what it is that is accounting for this dreary disaster. The instinct is to withdraw yourself from the world to take a good look in the mirror. In some ways this could be a bummer, or an opportunity. It depends how you look at it.
Depression is a puzzle to say the least, mostly due to its complexity in spanning the 4 main areas of health – spiritual, mental, physical and emotional. There is so much to examine that trying to do it all at once is enough to blow a gasket and potentially trigger the anxiety that so often hitches a ride with depression.
If we fall under the spell of depression, then that may indicate that our basic needs aren’t fulfilled.
Evaluating Yo Self
This is the value which depression can potentially offer us – it can help us become a better person though the evaluation of self, and through this we can outgrow what it is that is holding us back.
To evaluate the self is to take a look at the way you are living. The way we live has become complex and fast paced in comparison to our humble beginnings. There is a lot to juggle, and it can be easy to lose track of where you are amongst the hustle of everyday life.
Lets start by identifying depression. I cant speak for everyone, but here goes. Depression is characterised by a negative, perpetual, self defeating narrative. Put simply, we think negatively.
Thinking negatively is the start of a cycle which influences our emotions, our actions and our beliefs about ourselves.
Our thoughts tie to our emotions in a feedback loop – they influence each other. Since it can be difficult to hack our thoughts and emotions, unless we use drugs; can we break the cycle another way?
Since our thoughts influence our actions, can we break the cycle by changing our actions; by doing things differently, or doing new things. This means taking ACTION. The way we are doing things now don’t seem to be working out too well if we’re depressed.
So what the hell, why not give it a try?
What I’m trying to say is the way we live is largely determined by how we ACT, and we can decide to ACT differently whenever we want. That is the beauty of free will ladies and gentlemen.
Take for example exercise. Moving your body is one of the best antidepressant therapies around.
We gain reward from a cocktail of feel good chemicals such as Dopamine and Serotonin to drive us to repeat the action and gratify our efforts. But now we put the precursors to these chemicals in pills which short circuits the sense of reward.
Exercise has been shown to produce neurogenesis in the hippocampus of the brain, our learning and memory centre. Increased neuroplasticity in this area of the brain is also associated with reductions in depression.
Neurogenesis is a big deal because it allows us to form new neurons and neural connections, which could help shift persistent rumination – that pervasive self-defeating narrative.
These benefits are not just limited to exercise. When we engage in new learning, such as effortfully learning a new skill, we literally re-wire our brains. So by taking ACTION, you could be structurally altering your brain to potentially reduce depression.
What taking action does, like in the case of exercise is also change your habits. When we engage in new behaviours on a consistent basis this forms a positive feedback loop.
We then start to believe that we are in some way fit, healthy and committed to positive change. This is the foundation to which you can build your new self upon.
Im not saying that exercise is the cure, because the issue is far more complex than that. What I am saying though is that by evaluating the aspects of your life which you feel aren’t serving you, you have the free will to change them by taking action.
Your feedback loop is propagated by your preference of positive change(s).
Its your choice.
Change For The Better
Once you have an anchor point to start your journey to liberty, you can start to feel better, incrementally. As you do this, you can develop a relationship with your depression. Tap into what it is trying to tell you by examining your emotions in response to certain areas of your life.
Depression is a painful time, but can be a useful cue in which to reassemble your life to point it in a direction that better suits your needs.
Use that pain, hear it, FEEL it – let it be your guide to making the amendments to your lifestyle, to your relationships, to your habits, to your career, to your beliefs.
Take action in response to that pain, wherever that pain is sharpest is where you can make the most progress.
Use that pain as a motivator to pursue the happy, ambitious, driven and fulfilled you. Your pain is your guide and your power. Tap into what it is trying to tell you. All you have to do is ask.
My intention for this article was to help anyone who might be able to act upon this information. I understand that there are some cases of depression which are unique and deeply complex, and therefore may not find the above to be applicable.