Oct 18, 2012

Depression - Staying Positive in a Depressing State!

Millions of Canadians suffer from depression. I've had my own fair share of depressed states over the last couple of years, but through determination, sticktuitiveness and finding morale boosting motivators, I've been able to overcome some downward spiralling battles. You too can benefit from the motivators all around you by following these simple steps to completing one positive day at a time.

"Young women aged 15–24 years, were 1.5 times as likely as young men to report fair or poor mental health.

Young men 15–24 years of age were less likely than men in all other age groups to report fair or poor mental health."

The variation among women across age groups was less than among men."

Source: "The Face of Mental Illness Ontario (2006)"

So What is Chronic Depression?

There are many forms of depression, some are defined as manic mental states or "mood swings" and can be categorized as "mood disorders" (i.e. Bipolar). We have all suffered from mood swings at one point in our lives, but for some, these mood swing can affect their daily lives more deeply than others.

But we're not here for the textbook definition of depression, you can find millions of websites publishing what practitioners tell people about the textbook version of depression. I would much rather go into the dark pit of depression and fish through the real meaning behind this mood swinging state.

Depression is the Loneliest Boat at Sea!

Being down on one self isn't celebrated as something we should all talk about. It's not a topic we are taught to tell the whole world, or to help raise money for charities, depression is lonelier than that. It's a silent killer and if left unattended consciously or subconsciously, the harmful effects can drastically affect any one person on this earth. No one is safe from the inner battle that goes on, this inner battle can lie dormant without harming anyone for days, weeks, months or even years. Recognizing this inner-daemon is crucial to helping one to know thy self.

Millions of Canadians (and people globally) suffer from depression silently within their own homes. I have many friends who talk to me regularly about their state of mind, which I've come to realize is because I'm a good listener and can offer good advice on how to beat it. The one common aspect within all people is the inner-loneliness they feel, the walls that cave into one another, their inability to break the shackles of the mind closing in. The anger. The defeat. The feeling and thought of thinking that everyone out there knows their state of mind. Their shame is the only escape from reality.

I had a room-mate who from time to time would battle himself from within. This prevented him from dealing with the world. He would literally stay downstairs in his room for days on end, not coming up for fresh air, food or conversations of any kind. Our other friends would always ask about his disappearing acts. Days would go by and he would sink deeper and deeper into the abyss, playing, toying with his own thoughts of doubt, weakness and sense of self-worth. Everything would surround his mind all at once, not being able to find a hole small enough to break free. And then all of a sudden, as if the weight of the world was lifted, he would return to reality and you would think nothing had happened. But everything did happen, within his mind anyway.

See for my friend, he would use his own mind against itself, convinced that the world was too hard and everyone was out to get him at every turn. Every time he would miss work, he would feel ashamed and trapped, not able to reach out to his employer to just to let them know about the troubles he faced. Meeting these troubled times head on is crucial for a speedy recovery from an inner-depressed state.

Many others suffer from chronic illnesses and tend to hide behind those illnesses as a method to block out the world around them. It's far too easy to blame depression on an inability to function properly in everyday human life. When someone is battling a physical condition, it's far easier to slide through the cracks of the mind and blame the world for the pain.

Many of us tend to excuse our depression based on something else, we seldome blame ourselves and admit that the entire scenario was created within our own minds, that nothing that has happened or that is happening has done this to us, but instead that we are at fault. See the beauty of a mental state is that we can control our own thoughts and emotions, we can beat the dark side of depression from within.

We must also realize that for some unfortunate individuals, there's an actual chemical imbalance that must be treated accordingly with specific medication. In these rare cases, individuals cannot control their own thoughts and are often looked at as "crazy", or "loony" and suffer something greater than depression. Unlike most of us who can turn off these thoughts with some help, these individuals aren't capable of controlling their world around them. In many cases, these unfortunate souls will actually hear people whispering in their ears from the moment the wake up to the time they go to sleep.

Good Parenting Can Prevent Depression from Manifesting.

Parents rarely talk about depression around the dinner table, especially not before their kids reach their teen years. Why is that I have to ask? What is so wrong about talking to kids on controlling their mental state, mastering their thoughts, and preventing bad ideas from manifesting into the real world? Why don't we teach more kids yoga, prayer or meditation?

With Buddha, kids are taught at an early age on how to meditate and control their thoughts to cleans their spirit and to train their minds. You don't see these kids lash out at their parents or go on a shooting spree at a mall. These individuals are in control of their emotions and can block out the bad by inviting the good through meditation and control.

As young adults, we are often taught to control our outbursts, stand straight, don't make a scene, but are we ever taught to harness our feelings in the efforts to channel them into positive thinking? Not really. So many teens lash out at their parents because they are coming to an age of self-awareness, privacy, and independent feelings. What happens when all of those feelings are too much to handle and no one is there to guide them? How are we judged as parents then?

See depression is not something that just happens. In most major cases, especially were suicide is considered, these thoughts have been buried for a while, sometimes even years before they manifest into the real world.

It is up to us as parents to talk to our kids (even when they seem happy), because you never know what thoughts are brewing underneath. Most cases of depression are never known to anyone until it's too late. We've become a society who is taught to master our emotions from the outside and bottle any negative feelings on the inside. This is a HUGE mistake. If we learn to release those negative emotions before they create any damage, they we are releasing the hold those thoughts have on us. In one ear and out the other.

A girl named "Amanda Todd" took her own life (R.I.P.) because she was getting harassed by "Cyber Bullies". This story is extremely concerning, this young adult was so depressed that she thought that no one was there to help her, ultimately taking her own life. Please take the time to check out her home made video below, it broke my heart to watch since it's a cry for help and no one was listening at the time.

Watch the Amanda Todd video:

Don't Press Too Hard, Depression Hurts!

When a couple lives together, a partner is well aware of what the other is thinking. If you're in a relationship which suffers from one member being depressed, try to be gentle on the other person without attacking them too harshly.

We all want our loved ones to "snap out of it" and quickly in order to move on, but depression really hurts and sometimes being pushed too hard is taking a step backwards to recovery. Speak with your partner in a gentle setting, don't embarrass them, introduce the possibility of seeing someone together as one.

The same goes for a family member within the household, you don't have to be a couple to understand when someone is "off" or "non-responsive" to the world around them. Again, always remember that most people do not want to talk about how they truly feel so they make up reasons for feeling that way.

People often excuse their moods due to;

  • Bills
  • Work
  • Kids
  • Family troubles
  • Medical conditions
  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Etc.
Studies show that individuals weight these factors;

  • Own physical problems (11.5%)
  • Financial situation (11.0%)
  • Time pressure (8.5%)
  • School (8.2%)
  • Health of a family member (7.4%)
  • Personal or family responsibilities (7.0%)
  • Personal relationships (5.0)
  • Own work situation (4.3%)
  • Caring for a child (4.2%)
  • Employment status (4.1%)
  • Personal security (2.1%)
  • Caring for someone else (1.4%)
  • Discrimination (1.0%)
  • Death of a loved one (0.5%)
I am here to assert to you that it's only an excuse to the real problem from within. Depression comes from deep within, not from small petty outside influences. There's always an underlining issue that must come out in order for those feelings to loose their power over one's thoughts.

How to Break Free from the Shackles of Being Depressed:

  1. GO OUTSIDE: I can't stress this enough! Staying in a dark environment without any interaction from the outside world can easily become problematic for anyone's mental state. By simply sitting on the front porch, in the back yard or going to a park, a person is opening their mind to other like-minded individuals who are sending sub-conscious positive feedback. Don't be quick to judge how people feel about you, instead just take in the sights and sounds. Truly listen to the world around you and follow that through every time you venture outside.

    People that know me very well, are well aware of how much time I spend outside on my front porch. I love it here, old Victorian houses, massive 100 year old trees, birds chirping everywhere, squirrels busy collecting nuts and even raccoon's who aren't afraid to come up and eat from your hands. I take in the fresh air every day in order to prevent the inner blues that comes from staying inside for too long.

  2. EAT HEALTHIER - MORE OFTEN: Food plays a huge role on our moods. Food can be wonderful, delightful and satisfying putting a smile on our faces. Food also changes our chemical make-up from within which either releases good vibrations from within, our plagues us with bad toxins that can hinder the minds ability to heal itself. Have you ever eaten McDonald's or something greasy, only to feel worse after you eat? That's the body's way of saying, hold it buster, what you just shoved into your stomach is doing more harm than good. But on the flip slide, if you go and make yourself a watermelon platter, try to pay attention to the way you feel afterwards! Rejuvenated, happy, satisfied and hungry for more. What we eat on a regular basis has a drastic affect on our moods. Understanding the importance of food can help you to look through your fridge for something a little more satisfying all around.

  3. HELP OTHERS TO SMILE: Smiles are extremely infectious. Something as small as smiling and saying "good morning" to someone you pass by in the morning can ultimately affect their entire day in a positive way. The journey to making someone smile is extremely gratifying and fulfilling and can change your entire world completely. Start small, each day try to make one person smile because of a compliment, joke or even a gift that you give. Just try it and you might find yourself addicted to the feeling wanting more and more. Try to find an outlet that makes you smile, for me it's music. When I find myself frowning a lot, I put music on that get's my blood going. It doesn't take long before my mood changes and I find myself smiling more.

  4. TALK TO OTHERS OPENLY: I make it a point to have a large circle of friends that I like to talk to regularly about humans and their feelings. It's not that I need to talk about myself all the time, in fact the complete opposite, I need to better understand how the mind works to help control my moods and channel my emotions for good. Most of the time, I like to talk about the other person with me, it's very therapeutic trying to help another person beat their inner daemons. Be there for someone and they will be there for you as well when you need them. Having someone you can depend on and trust not to take advantage of your most inner thoughts is crucial to mental recovery. If needed, go see a psychologist, I did. Just like my psychologist said to me "I tend to bottle things around the people I know so they can open up, but never open up myself so that they always have someone strong to go to, that is why I need a 3rd party listener outside of my inner circle". She was right, I would always put on a smile for everyone, not worrying about my own problems, but from time to time, those feelings would build without any form of release, ultimately leading to my demise. A 3rd party listener like my psychologist was exactly what I needed, a non-bias shoulder when I needed it the most.

  5. EXERCISE OR SEXERCISE: I'm sure you all are looking at the second word quite intensively as if to say, "did he really just say that, hmmmm I like the second option better". Whatever you do in life, exercising goes a long way to a better healthy mind. Movement increases blood flow, blood flow increases life, life increases happiness and the circle is complete. I'm not asking you to go out and lift weights for 4 hours a day. Just a small sprint to the corner to get your heart racing, or wrestling with your kids can go a long way to mental health recovery. The body thrives on being active and mind is a muscle as well which needs stimuli to help introduce better thoughts into your life.

  6. FIND A RELEASE FOR YOUR MENTAL STATE: For most of us, we tend not to use our mind to it's fullest capability in order to get those good moods we long for. I find writing and reading helps to soothe the mind and release the tension building inside. Read a good novel, start a blog, create an online community. Do whatever it takes to occupy your mind, you'll find your thoughts wandering less and less into the abyss.

I hope you've enjoyed my thoughts on depression and how to overcome the many barriers we face internally within our minds. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I can go on forever on the topic. In fact, I've written a 40,000 word document on the subject that maybe someday might manifest into a self-help book and maybe not, I didn't write it to get rich or famous, I wrote it because my mind needed me too in order to stay healthy and active.

Please feel free to comment below, if you too have a story to tell, please contact me below with your details so we can discuss writing together.

Martin R. Lemieux
Editor & Author


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