“Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. . . . It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.” J.K. Rowling
(In addition to this blog, please remember to reach out to a professional if you are feeling depressed. This blog simply offers tips to feel better. It’s not a substitution for professional therapy or coaching.)
I had a recent conversation about depression with my mentor, and he (as always) had some brilliant things to say. I will share some of them in this blog. First, why are we speaking of depression right now? Well, because since the outbreak of COVID 19, depression rates have risen. This is obvious. I knew this without looking up any numbers. It’s reflected in the people I see in my life everyday. It’s reflected in myself. I feel as though the baseline of how we feel is lower. I believe we all have kind of a baseline/default mood. Say normally you feel you’re at about a 7 on a 10 point scale with 10 being the best. Since 2020, that baseline score might be more like a 5.
“Elevated levels of adverse mental health conditions, substance use, and suicidal ideation were reported by adults in the United States in June 2020. The prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorder was approximately three times those reported in the second quarter of 2019 (25.5% versus 8.1%), and prevalence of depressive disorder was approximately four times that reported in the second quarter of 2019 (24.3% versus 6.5%) (2).” cdc.gov
It’s a depressing thought, but I’m not here to depress you with depressing thoughts. I’m here to acknowledge where we are, and then hopefully to offer some helpful solutions. Click below to watch the video (and remember to subscribe to me on YouTube:)), or just keep reading below.
My mentor (who has been a psychotherapist for over forty years) said that the key to thriving with depression is “involvement in something that leads to a feeling of satisfaction”. He made a distinction between this and distraction. Distraction does not usually lead to a feeling of satisfaction. We can distract ourselves temporarily, but if we are depressed, we will come back to this feeling of depression after the distraction is over. And if the distraction involved something that made our lives worse, well then the feeling of depression will also be worse. But if we got involved in something that gave our lives more meaning, or even gave us a little sense of satisfaction, the depression can be lifted a bit or even a lot.
When my mentor first said the word “involvement”, I thought to myself, “Oh Lord, please don’t go there.” The word “involvement” reminds me of high school when I was told it’s important to be “involved” in social things like sports and club, a nightmare for an introvert. Yes, I know involvement in sports and club can be a really positive thing for many people in high school. But it wasn’t for me. And I feel like I had it drilled in my head my entire life that I have to be “involved” to be successful or happy, and well I refused to buy into it. And if it meant I was not successful or happy, I did not care. (My rebellious side is showing).
My mentor clarified that it does not have to mean “involvement” in a social way. It could be social things like sports or clubs or dinner parties, but it didn’t have to be. It could be something very simple like involvement in a puzzle that leads to satisfaction when finishing it. It could mean involvement in a book, again with the satisfaction of finishing it, or learning something from it. It could mean involvement in gardening that creates something beautiful. I could be learning to knit, or learning some words in a new language that you always wanted to learn. It could mean getting involved with a very small group of friends and strengthening those connections. It could be starting a blog (hello). It could just mean choosing to be alive, participate, and be involved in everything you are doing during the day, so you feel satisfied when the day is done. In other words, going TOWARDS your values.
I remember one time reading that the key to coping with depression is to make small goals throughout the day, and then check those goals off a list as you go. The first goal could be brushing your teeth and making your bed. Check it off. Any thing that you do during the day that will make your life better deserves to be celebrated.
My niece told me when she was little she would say out loud to herself “Thank you Myranda” when she did anything that she would appreciate later. She said she saw it as her future self saying “Thank you Myranda” to her present self. I love this. So there you have it, you’re homework. Say “Thank you ____________ “ out loud when you complete a task that your future self will appreciate it. Try it. It’s fun!
When feeling depressed, I believe it’s really important to keep it small. And the more severe the depression, the smaller the goal should be. Remember a bunch of small goals could turn into something amazingly beautiful in the end. Concentrate on things that will help YOU feel more satisfied. Don’t worry about how it looks to anyone else. It is never a good time to compare, but while depressed it’s definitely important not to compare yourself to anyone else.
After all, at Your Highest Light we talk about creating and attracting YOUR most beautiful life, not anyone else’s.
In conclusion, remember to go towards your values. Remember to go towards involvement in something that gives you a feeling of satisfaction. And go towards doing things your future self will appreciate.
As I said in the beginning, remember also to reach out for help from a professional if you are feeling depressed. Sometimes it is easy to forget this. While I did not necessarily go towards social things to help with my depression, I did get help through therapy, mentoring, and coaching. It helped me having one or two trusted people to tell what I was going through, so I was not alone.
I hope this served you,
Your Fab Life Coach,