If you've ever suffered from depression, felt despondent or apathetic, you know how challenging it can be to rise above the sea of darkness shrouding you. What can you do to shift from this gloomy place to one of light and joy?
I’ve experienced depression many times, and in several forms. A couple of times I almost ended my life. So I understand how it feels. I’ve also endured countless bouts of apathy and an inability to see the beauty in life owing to a myriad of health challenges. Recently, I experienced another dark time. It was frightening. It took me over like a storm and I had to hold on with all my brawn to make it through to the other side.
I had a breakthrough. I realized that for me, depression is like a storm. Let me explain.
A storm has three components.
- The first component is a buildup of moisture. Amazingly, this does not have to occur near where the storm is going to hit.
- The second is a trigger. Something has to generate the primary upward motion, which could be several things.
- The third component is unsteadiness, which causes the moisture to keep going up, and finally, leads to a storm.
With depression, there are three similar components.
- The first component is a buildup of unexpressed emotions. Most of the time, we plod through life holding back our emotions, trying to be strong, pretending as if we are fine. This is an unhealthy accumulation of toxicity.
- The second component is a trigger. Something, either small or big, negative (at least in our perception of it) happens and all of these pent up emotions start to rise.
- The third component is unsteadiness, which is derived from not taking proactive steps to keep our mental health in balance. This instability, with the bubbling of emotions and trigger(s), emits a perfect storm of misery.
Why is this an Important discovery?
Unlike storms in our weather system, by understanding how depression develops, we can take steps to dismantle and ward off depression. There is much research written on this topic. For today, I will focus on expression. When we learn to acknowledge the darkness within us, face to face, and ask it what it wants, we are tapping into a neglected part of ourselves that is screaming for attention. Once we do this, we can then express what it is we are feeling. What are we not getting from life? What do we truly need to admit, accept, or recognize?
How then, can we express ourselves?
Writing, art, music, physical movement, or simply talking with a friend are all healing forms of expression. I like to dance around my living room, paint abstracts, write poetry, and of course, heal through the love and support of my friends and family. One of the best ways to express ourselves is to volunteer. When we focus on helping someone else, our problems can have less hold on us.
Like a storm, the sadness will pass. You have to reach down and find what it is that has not been noticed, that is hidden and hurt. Acknowledge it, thank it for its lessons, and once you are ready, release it.
How can we prevent another bout from brewing?
Be proactive. When you are feeling good is the best time to check in with yourself and release any negative emotions, however small, that need attention. Practice saying loving thoughts, use affirmations, make time for laughter, and for purely silly and fun activities. Remember to love yourself through it all, practicing tenderness toward those parts of you that need a little help.
You are not alone
Most of all, know you are not alone. We all experience a range of difficult emotions. We can be there for each other when we need it. Be sure to reach out if you need some help, and when you are feeling good, be there for your friends. By caring, you can save a life.
Wishing you happiness and healing,