Perhaps the most debilitating challenge of Depression is the rumination that can keep you locked in cycles of worry, dread and inactivity. Cycles that seem to produce and maintain bone weary exhaustion and fatigue, such that it can be difficult to disentangle what came first and equally difficult to get through the day when it is fraught with overwhelming emotion or, the opposite, when everything feels flat and empty. Either way, motivation, concentration and self-care can become harder to hold onto, when even the simplest of tasks feels like it’s just too hard.
While Severe Clinical Depression requires specialist psychiatric services, there are many other forms of Depression that will affect all of us at some point in our lives, and it’s common to also experience symptoms of Anxiety and Stress, and to experience feelings of shame and guilt. If this resonates with you, my take-away message from this article would be to reach out. The nature of Depression is that it usually makes us want to withdraw, avoid and self-isolate. However, this can serve to further embed those cycles of negative rumination, and with no opportunity for a wider perspective, can hook us into a downward spiral. It can be difficult to pull out of Depression on your own and we need others to be alongside us on the journey. Turn towards people; towards connection. It doesn’t need to be anything too scary! The smallest first step is a good place to start – and that might look like making contact for online support, visiting your G.P or letting a friend or family member know that all is not well.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, particularly Behavioural Activation, is the most researched of the talking therapies for Depression and recent developments in the field have brought added benefits that enable us to clear the filters of Depression, by developing flexibility in the way we relate to the negative, difficult thoughts we have and by learning to live in the present moment rather than a ruminated past or a feared future. The filter of Depression can be likened to looking at life through a murky contact lens. The thought of being in the present moment might at first glance look like having to sit in the murk…not altogether appealing! However, the present moment can be where we find peace and relief, by focusing attention on what is actually happening right here, right now in the moment you are living in. Avoidance strategies (which are natural) tend to keep the struggle going.
When we can learn to name whatever is going on inside us, it’s possible to start the process of unhooking from the negative thoughts of our minds, and through learning self-compassion it becomes easier to make contact with the present moment and to gain a broader perspective on our struggles. Present moment awareness is Mindfulness in action and provides a space in which to clear the mental traffic so that we are not so caught up in the evaluations of our experiences. We can learn to see life’s experiences as just that, rather than the experience becoming who we are.
Do reach out to seek support (there are many resources online for Depression) especially if you are experiencing thoughts of harm to yourself and give yourself a chance to receive help.