“We are dancing in our chains.” -AS
I posted on depression and anxiety briefly a couple of weeks ago & I wanted to bring it back up again to the original list for people who are struggling with coping mechanisms for debilitating depression. Here is the original post.
Now I want to address another, incredibly insightful post I found called 21 Tips to Keep Your Shit Together When You’re Depressed. Written in 2013 by Rosalind Robertson, the article pretty much calls out those shitty people I like to call the overly-happy clan. These are the kind of people who don’t quite understand that depression is more than just an illness. Depression is a virulent lifestyle of torture. Depression consumes and sucks the life out of people day-in and day-out. Depression is like the demon that eats your soul, but also returns to comfort you in your isolation. It’s extremely disturbing and anxiety-inducing to be depressed. I’ve struggled with it myself, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.
Now, regarding Rosalind’s list, sometimes the things she suggests actually work. Most times, though, they don’t. Most times I can’t even get myself to muster the energy to do something new with my routine. I can’t even make that effort to change. Which is why I want to suggest some passive ways to begin to feel active again. These ways are just small steps that will allow you to eventually gain the motivation to do things to start changing your life. I totally understand that taking any form of action when you are depressed can be extremely overwhelming. It’s near impossible to begin to do anything. These things I am about to suggest are extremely passive and require near to no effort on your part. Now these won’t be enough to end your depression, but they are enough to eventually get you to the point where you can start your journey of coping, and hopefully, eventually, acting towards hope rather than fear. Below are 5 more rather passive actions you can take to help alleviate the hopelessness of depression, even when you feel as though you can barely function.
1] Discover Your Mantra. This is what I like to call the distraction technique. It’s pretty strange if you’re not used to it, but it’s popular in religious rituals and meditation. Basically you chose a phrase that has at least some form of calming affect personal to you. For example, if you are religious you might chose to say, ‘Help me, God,’ over and over again until the negative energy subsides. Or, if you really enjoy poetic lines and nature, you might say, ‘Frothing waves, warm sand, on the beach is where I am.’ Make sure to chose a phrase that is personal to you and is able to provide some form of reassurance. This is particularly important because when you repeat a phrase over and over again it can easily lose its meaning. However, if the meaning of the phrase is attached to an emotional connection promoting feelings of hope and safety, the meaning will always remain. You might need to say the mantra for a while before you begin to feel even the slightest calm feeling, but it’s seriously a great distraction from the negative thoughts and energy– especially if you literally cannot bring yourself to do anything else.
2] Make Lists. This is slightly more active than #1, but nonetheless requires little to no emotional effort depending on the type of list you are making. I may have mentioned this in my original post, but it’s a really easy way to distract yourself while also providing a feeling of control and organization. Whenever I make a list it’s usually something pertaining to a question I have been debating in my head. For example, one question I always ask myself is which internship/future career do I want? Then I will do some research and create a mindmap of different options I have. I will create pros and cons charts, salary charts, location information, etc. However, if you feel like planning a career might be too stressful, you can easily make a map of different kinds of foods you want to eat, or maybe even the types of music you like. For the music option you might narrow your preferred choices in music according to genre, artist, and even different songs you like. In creating this web of interests and topics, you will distract yourself from any looming feelings of hopelessness, at least for the time being. List making is also a great way to feel like you have immediately accomplished some goals!
3] Plan the Future/Create Your Purpose. This one has a few different options. You can begin by researching things, and maybe watching a few inspirational TED talks. Your goal, here, is to give your life meaning. Stop waiting for life to give you a break. What you need to do currently, is ignore your situation for now. Ignore it, and step over it to get what you want. You can still be horribly depressed, and watch a video about nonprofits and volunteer opportunities. You can still be depressed and just sit passively looking at pictures of the Earth. You need to discover things you are interested in whether it be events, future travels, or purchases. Recently, I discovered my interest in prison reform, and last Saturday, I spent 8 hours watching Netflix documentaries and YouTube videos that recorded life and issues within the prison system. While obviously I didn’t do anything research-wise besides watch videos on the day, I still was able to gain an understanding of one of my interests. Accordingly, I have been trying to set up an internship this summer working to educate and rehabilitate inmates in the system. See? I have given myself a purpose simply by watching a few documentaries I was interested in! If you haven’t read the book Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankly, I suggest you begin with that book. It is absolutely amazing and inspiring. It also introduces a type of therapy known as Logotherapy, which includes techniques that helped prisoners, who were forced into horrible Concentration Camps during the Holocaust, to remain steadfast in their hopes of staying alive.
4] Write a Self-Help Article/ Give Advice. This one can be as active or as passive as you make it. You can give advice to one of your friends, family members or acquaintances, OR you can just write a bunch of self-help articles on things you know a lot about, or have experienced frequently. For example, I have depression & I am currently writing about ways I manage it… or try to manage it– I’m not sure which one it is yet. I am sure you all have heard that quote about how it’s so difficult to take others’ advice, yet it’s so easy to give out great advice, or something along those lines, and I think that statement holds true in many circumstances. Writing advice for other people requires you to look outside of yourself at the issue with a type of unattached, 3rd-party view. Many people are not able to look at their issues with that sort of view because they’re constantly focused on the misery they feel rather than only the problem at hand. Thus, rendering them unable to think in a way that does not involve a type of metaphysical dark goggles that cause a distorted self-perception! With that being said, try heading over to any self-help cite, and start giving advice and answering questions– you might just find yourself answering the very questions you have been asking for! Check out Reddit, Yahoo Questions, Experience Project, Quora and other cites I’m sure you all have heard of.
5] Think Yourself into Absurdity. OK. So, this one is kind of random and strange, but also very effective for some people, including myself. You can honestly do this while sitting in your bed, or you can do it while you are in public. It’s not like anyone will notice, unless you start talking out loud, which, honestly, might be hilarious, so go ahead and try it. Anyways… sometimes when I am feeling depressed I just feel like I’d rather not interact with the real world so I do what I like to call, Thinking Yourself into Absurdity. I did a post along those lines a couple of days ago, and if you want to read it you can check it out, here. If you are interested in trying this technique all you have to do is lay down, sit–whatever your choice of position is– and close your eyes, allowing your mind to wander into thoughts. You may think a few negative things, but it’s okay, just don’t allow them to linger in your head. Whenever a negative thought pops up, imagine yourself waving to it, smiling at it and allowing it to drift away like a cloud. Then after 5 minutes of just letting your thoughts drift around, start to take control of your imagination. Think of a few weird looking people, allow them to become stranger and stranger looking, almost as if they aren’t human anymore, maybe a sort of goat-man or something (this is your choice, play around with your thoughts and have fun). Then think through different worlds in your head, create strange innovations, fly through a world of pizza bagels. IDK? Think about the fact that you could be living in a total simulation that is really controlled by some other alien in a far off galaxy. Maybe when we dream we actually enter into a different world. What is consciousness? Think yourself into absolute absurdity, confuse your senses and your brain. Then after you have had enough, write down the things you created, or maybe just continue to lay there in total shock at how damn creative you are. Give your brain a high-five. Well, actually don’t do that or you’ll end up hitting yourself.
I hope you guys can make use of these suggestions because they have all gotten me through some of my worst times. I have made a habit out of most of them actually. Give yourself a chance to do these, allow yourself to be distracted from your problems. Help others. Give yourself a purpose. You can fucking do this people! If you ever need to reach out, always feel free to shoot me an email at driftingbrain[at]mail.com.
Best of Luck,