On Depression: Step by Step
I wrote about depression once before, but I thought I’d write something new—a step by step guide on how I face bouts of depression. This was mostly for myself, but if any of you experience depression in a similar way it might be useful to you also.
Please talk to someone if at any point you feel you are a danger to yourself or others. Understand that these techniques can cause a kind of emotional thawing and it can be intense to feel a bunch of things that have been building up over time. Show love and compassion to yourself if this happens, and know that the feelings will pass. Honour them and the messages they carry.
1 - I recognize that something is wrong. Depression is the easiest label I use when I feel numb and lethargic and have a vague feeling of something being wrong. The label isn’t important. This guide is for any state involving emotional blockage or numbness or heaviness.
2 - I allow myself to be depressed for as long as I feel like it. I don’t put pressure on myself.
3 - Sooner or later I decide to do something about it.
4 - I decide to either look for outside help or sort things out myself. Any compassionate person that is willing to talk is helpful.
5 - If I find help, I tell the person I feel depressed or just “weird” and say I don’t need them to do anything except listen or ask questions while I try to sort it out verbally. I do my best to say how I’m feeling, and usually I feel confused at first but talk until I find clarity, which means I can now decide to release whatever it is that is causing the pain. This can simply require hugs and tears, or might need more exploration (see below).
6 - If I decide to deal with it on my own, or if talking doesn’t help, I move on to some other things, trying whichever ones feel right at the time…
7 - Meditation. When depressed I find it easiest to start with something that doesn’t require tools or getting out of bed. It may take some exploring to find the type of meditation that works best for you. Try a search for “meditation for depression” or “meditation for self love” or anything that you feel inspired to try. Maybe something closer to prayer resonates better for you. There are lots of articles and YouTube videos with guided meditations. If meditation just doesn’t excite you, feel free to skip this step.
8 - Writing. I love using writing as an outlet. I use a cheap notebook with pages that can be ripped out and start with a question for my subconscious, like “Why am I depressed?” or “Why am I angry?” and let flow any thoughts that spring up. A lot of it is ridiculous or doesn’t make sense. It’s good to get all that stuff out. Dig deep. Don’t judge or edit as you go. Once it’s all out, you can see what stuff is ridiculous and can be laughed off. Sometimes our negative beliefs are hilariously stupid, but we don’t notice them so they pick away at us until we do. Other negative beliefs may require more exploration. You can try creating positive affirmations to negate these. This can feel weird. If you wrote “I hate myself,” saying “I love myself” 50 times might feel uncomfortable and wrong, but may be exactly what you need to get on the right track. Say your positive affirmations until you believe them. Words are powerful. Once I find enough clarity and release, the pages are burned or shredded, and the positive affirmations are written down somewhere to remind me later.
9 - Physical release. There are lots of physical ways to release negative energy from the body that do not involve self-harm. Use your imagination and explore whatever you feel will bring catharsis best. Some examples would be massage, sports/exercise, yoga, chiropractic/physical therapy, grounding (laying on the earth), hugs/cuddling, sex, psoas exercises, reiki/energy work.
10 - Creating or immersing in art. Paint, draw, sing, dance, write poetry, colour, play an instrument (even the musically untrained can play something simple like a singing bowl, gong, hand drum), take selfies, scribble, make weird faces, howl at the moon, or whatever you feel inspired to do. Conversely, you can listen to music, look at art, or enjoy the creations of others in some other way. Pick something that you can relate to, or something that uplifts you.
11 - Other. Sometimes you just know what you need to do. Use your intuition.
12 - Fun. Once you’ve dealt with all your pent up feelings, maybe it’s time to just do something you love. I like to tie my hair back, put on bright lipstick, and just get on with my day.
Whatever you do, just know these things: You are not alone. You are perfect the way you are. You are loved, and should show love and compassion to yourself most of all.