This Blog is in response to the fact that people do get depressed during this holiday season and this time of year and I am working in a Wellness group on Facebook and wanted to address this topic as something I do know about.
Depression is a circular disease that feeds on itself and can grow to be unmanageable. It is really much like a parasite that you feed through a series of behaviors. Some of these are health related behaviors and some are emotional. This is based on my own experiences with depression and my family’s experiences with depression and also based on what I learned getting a Master’s of Science degree in Psychology and 10 years of social work.
First, I am going to list physical behaviors that contribute to feeding depression.
1-Skipping meals, then over eating at night or eating constantly.
I am a meal skipper, but make up for all those calories by consuming a lot of food at night. The reason this is so bad is your blood sugar is all over the place and you are not getting enough nutrients to your body. Depressed people are often low in essential vitamins, especially B vitamins.
Eating constantly is the other extreme. And it serves as a numbing device. You are always overfed and you have a feeling of being stuffed yet still hungry.
It is two extremes.
2-hydration. People that are depressed do not drink enough water and will in fact make a conscious choice not to drink water. Even a small amount of dehydration will impact the brain. In Tibetan Tantra the element of water is connected to the head or brain region as it is the area of our body that uses the most water and needs the most water to work effectively.
Drinking enough water every day is one way to stabilize moods and to prevent depression or to begin to heal from depression. I cannot over emphasize the importance of water. A good rule of thumb is if you aren’t peeing clear you aren’t drinking enough water.
3-Sleep-either not enough or too much. I have what is called running thoughts or the mind is flooded with continual thoughts and it is all very circular and unproductive which makes it impossible to sleep as the mind never fully shuts down.
The other situation is where you sleep all the time to break away from thoughts and life.
4-Activity: People will react to feelings of depression by either not doing anything or doing too much. I hope that the consistency of my comments show that depression is extremes of doing too much or too little, eating too much or too little, sleeping too much or too little. And the same is true of activity either the person will do nothing or do way too much. I realize people will say, but if you are doing all this stuff you can’t be depressed. Yes, depression can manifest itself in too much activity as in trying to fill a void or running away from issues and not thinking.
What I have listed so far are bodily manifestations of depression, eating, drinking, sleeping and movement. Emotionally depression will show itself by overthinking or circular thinking, inability to make decisions, a feeling of emptiness, or extreme sadness, the inability to see a change or a future that is different than the hopelessness of the moment.
The very real fact of depression is a feeling or an overwhelming sense of being stuck and unable to move forward.
People will either experience racing thoughts or muddled slowness of thought. From what I had read and heard I assumed depression was thinking sad thoughts or thinking bad thoughts. My dad called it having dark ideas. My depression was having racing thoughts and having no quiet or peace of mind, ever. It was exhausting.
Some people will have a feeling of great sadness while others feel empty and have no feelings, neither joy nor sorrow.
However, almost all people affected by depression will experience a sense of hopelessness that nothing will ever change that they will never feel differently or good again and the unending sense of hopelessness will continue forever.
Having people tell you that things will be okay seems crazy. The feeling is things aren’t okay and they will never be okay. The best advice I ever got about depression and how to overcome it is first do not let it take root, be cautious, put your health first, learn to be happy because happy is a learned response, learn to control your thoughts through yoga, meditation, the breath and don’t overthink. Also do not ever be afraid to reach out, get help, use medication when justified, and seek counseling.
The following is the best advice I have ever read on depression given by the renowned therapist CG Jung to a friend. He gives very piratical ideas about getting over depression and if that doesn’t work to sink down into the depression and let it work itself out in any way possible. I have found it more useful to give myself over to depression in some instances and wrestle with my own bad nature, but I do it with an awareness of my intention.
With that said, depression is a life endangering disease of the mind and it claims as many victim as cancer. Be cautious and seek help and drink enough water and lay off the soda.
Anyway to Jung:
Dear N., I am sorry you are so miserable. ‘Depression’ means literally ‘being forced downwards.’ This can happen even when you don’t consciously have any feeling at all of being ‘on top.’ So I wouldn’t dismiss this hypothesis out of hand.
If I had to live in a foreign country, I would seek out one or two people who seemed amiable and would make myself useful to them, so that libido came to me from outside, even though in a somewhat primitive form, say of a dog wagging its tail. I would raise animals and plants and find joy in their thriving.
I would surround myself with beauty no matter how primitive and artless–objects, colors, sounds. I would eat and drink well.
When the darkness grows denser, I would penetrate to its very core and ground, and would not rest until amid the pain a light appeared to me, for ‘in excessu affectus’ [in an excess of affect or passion] Nature reverses herself.
I would turn in rage against myself and with the heat of my rage I would melt my lead. I would renounce everything and engage in the lowest activities should my depression drive me to violence. I would wrestle with the dark angel until he dislocated my hip. For he is also the light and the blue sky which he withholds from me.
Anyway that is what I would do. What others would do is another question, which I cannot answer. But for you too there is an instinct either to back out of it or to go down to the depths. But no half-measures or half-heartedness. With cordial wishes, As ever, C.G. Jung
Jacob Wrestles with the Angel.
Jung once famously said that “one does not become conscious by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” It is when we stop projecting our own darkness on the world and others and stop seeking perfection that we can be open to joy and life. Life is messy and pretending otherwise is to open a door to depression and other mental health issues.
The books I have found helpful are:
Yoga for Depression by Amy Weintraub
Darkness Made Visible, a memoir on madness by William Styron.
Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh, or anything by him
Mostly stay hydrated and live in the present moment, jill