I’m usually a fairly upbeat person, with caveats. I still have a hard time with the advent of my beloved’s birthday, death, our wedding anniversary, and the whole holiday season. Add that up and I struggle for the last six months of the year. It is not every day like it was after his death, but it is still something I must fight.
When I was younger and not wiser, I suffered from depression. I am intimately acquainted with the slippery slope on the banks of the rivers denial and depression. If you fall in, it is extremely hard to get out without a helping hand. The good news is there are red flags on the banks much like the ‘baton rouge’ used on the Mississippi River. If you can find and take out the right one, solving your depression is a choice.
Begin with a self-examination. (Your list will be different than mine. What triggers your depression.)
- Am I really depressed?
- Am I suppressing anger over something?
- Could I be sick?
- Have I been sleeping?
- Am I getting proper nutrition?
- How are my allergies doing?
- Is there a mold source in the house?
- What’s hiding in the trash cans?
- Have I been eating fast food or those American favorites: MSG, BHA, BHT and unpronounceable’s?
- Water and Exercise?
- Is it dark or raining outside?
- Do I need to see my doctor?
- H.A.L.T. all decisions until I am no longer hungry, angry, lonely, tired; fix my broken bits.
Once I get through the Captain Obvious reasons for my doldrums, I move on to the harder topics. The most hated is oppression. My youthful depression was caused by oppression, my inability to remove myself from the source and a general lack of hope. Time, distance and recovery make it easier to look back on those days of despair and see that I wasn’t nearly as depressed as I was oppressed. I meet so many young people today who confide that they suffer from depression and anxiety. They see no hope and/or they see only tomorrow, not months and years down their path.
There is always hope as long as you are still breathing. Human rights violations including abuse, trafficking, violence should be reported and dealt with. Be brave and contact the authorities. Talk to a mandated reporter (like a teacher or medical professional) or a first responder (fire, police, EMT).
Oppression from lack of freedoms, sometimes age and safety-related, can be worked on. If you are young and/or rely on someone else to supply your daily needs; lack of freedom and choices often set upon you like a pack of jackals after your joy. Freedom can easily be restored upon adulthood and/or a change of address. Sometimes a divorce. Recognize that lack of freedom is not permanent, it does require some effort and planning on our part. How will you support yourself? What skills or education can I obtain or work on now for that happy day of liberation?
I graduated High School at 17 and left home to move in with my high school girlfriends in a shared apartment across the street from the junior college. I was banned from contacting my family for such a heinous act of liberation. It took my father six months to get my mother to relent. I made some stupid choices during that time, but I also made some good ones. I was, after all, a novice at choice making! The point is, by the time I left my mother’s house for good, I was a minor! I had a diploma, a car I paid for, college schedule confirmation, a job, and a trunk full of household goods. It was an extremely large trunk and I managed to fill it without parental knowledge. I had been purchasing items for over a year and hiding them in the attic. My mother had no clue I was about to bolt.
There was instant joy moving into that first apartment. It was crowded, five females in two rooms and one bathroom. We lived on mattresses on the floor for the first six months. It was exciting to create furniture out of Basalite blocks and two by fours. Recycle and upscale was our thing in 1975! Everything was new and exciting. We had plenty of kitchenware and food. Needless to say, we all had diverse backgrounds and I learned quickly to survive. If you keep your mouth shut, people don’t know how naive you really are.
I escaped another oppressive relationship of 14 years at age forty. I was totally unprepared for the second liberation. But, I had God, a job, friends, and skills. My spouse defected to the dark side and another woman. Each time I see her, I am reminded of each blow. He is filled with regret and is unhappy with his new wife, but I would not wish him back.
Both of these relationships were highly oppressive. My lack of choices and freedom translated into a lack of hope. It was easy to be short-sighted.
I tackle depression differently now. I force myself into action and charge at it like a knight with shield and lance. Sleep, eat, exercise, etc. generally correcting the underlying causes. I have come to accept that multiple blows to the head have left lasting effects that cannot be eliminated but can be mitigated. I count my blessings and try to remember that God has instructed us to constantly “renew our minds” with “things that are worthy and pure”. Focusing on positive thoughts and things, planning for the future.
Mid-December, I will begin my New Year’s list. I will create new workbooks in Excel for my finances. I will create a “2020 To-Do List” that includes new additions for the year and also the previous decade’s accomplishments. It is so easy to get bogged down with how much I have to do. Breaking it down into baby steps and prioritizing it helps. The first year I started taking items off the To-Do sheet and keeping track of the completed tasks, it was no big deal. In the second-year, I repeated the exercise and something amazing happened. I suddenly felt better about what I had gotten done and my mood lifted. Now, the years roll by and the list has gotten long. I can look back and say, “I did that!”
This is just a rambling blog of a few tools I use to combat depression. There are more tools, but word limits!
For now, I have accomplished a blog, had some ferocious purrs from my lap warming kitty, and have a stack of firewood waiting for a cheery fire and a hot cup of cocoa!