How To Deal With Depression

August 2nd, 2010

Have you felt so depressed that it’s too hard to talk about? Are you afraid of wearing out your welcome with your friends because it just doesn’t seem to change?  Do you find yourself often at square one again – thinking you’ve already covered that patch of the track and can’t get past it?

When we know that our downward spiral won’t “last forever”, we can fake it til we make it. But sometimes that downward spiral appears to have no let up.

Just as often, though, we feel the after-burn of knowing that we haven’t gotten our needs for acknowledgment, understanding or connection met which often leaves us running for the nearest escape to indulge in.

I do this quite often myself.

When I keep coming back to those sad feelings over and over again, it reaches a point where I can’t talk about them anymore. It feels like there is no help that I can get from anyone else, from a book, or an mp3.  It’s that very absence of help that is my sign to listen more intently to myself.

It’s my doorway to what’s truly needed:  a chance to sit down and have a chance to catch up with myself.

I have found that by continuing to listen, to be willing to acknowledge what is really true for me, to feel the longing in full swing- well, there is relief in that. I get it.  I understand.  Even if I can’t explain it to another person, even if my own belief in God has been shaken – I always have me.

Somehow, I’ve learned over the years that I can’t wear out my own welcome.

I think the greatest form of compassion I can offer myself is simply to listen, to acknowledge, appreciating the strength it takes to feel these feelings for yet another day.  And also to understand that like everything else, feelings change.  They ebb and flow like the proverbial ocean.  If we don’t hang on to them, they move through us and – even though we may return to that place of melancholy – there can be moments of respite from it.

Most of all, what I know now is that feeling many different emotions doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me.  It means that I’m human – the life is complex – and that I can strengthen my ability to help myself in countless ways.

And that’s the message I want to leave you with today:  if you’re feeling depressed, overwhelmed, frustrated or alone, there is help for you.  And the first step is to spend some time listening to what’s going on inside – whether you do this by journaling, dancing, walking, taking a bath or talking to your dog.  It often helps me to nod my head knowingly or hug myself to help me ride out the more difficult junctures.  I encourage you to find what works for you.

Inevitably by listening, and by allowing the longing I feel and making it totally safe to feel whatever it is, I can break things down into simple do-able steps to take action on.  And by taking action, things over time do shift for me.

I do not believe these feelings are a diagnosable illness – I believe it is part of the human condition.   Just like the weather, our feelings rise and fall. There’s nothing wrong with us.

These feelings come up over and over again and I simply rinse and repeat the very same cycle:  notice what I’m really longing for, feel that with all its intensity, notice how impossible often times it is to have what I really want, and break it down into the teeny-est, tiny-est most doable steps.  It’s pretty empowering to have become so skilled at doing this over the years.

Simple but not easy, done with deep humility for how difficult the plight of humans can be when they are hurting and there aren’t long lasting solutions.

How do you get through your dark nights of the soul?


3 Responses to “How To Deal With Depression”

  1. Pearl Mattenson Says:

    Char this is such a wise and compassionate post. Having the compassion and courage to listen to our feelings- so hard and so important. I have been trying to do this with the grief over my sister’s death. So hard. (have I said it is hard?) And so powerful when I can do it.

  2. Char Says:

    Pearl:

    Yes, compassion and courage is what it takes to deal with a loss of a loved one – and dipping into it as it feels organically calling to you is wise. A second is a long time when it comes to searing pain that we feel in our hearts.

    And yes, it is indeed very very hard – be oh so gentle with yourself dear one as you find your way through this.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you – you are not alone.

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