I live with depression, low self esteem, and suicidal thoughts. Some days are worse than others but throughout the years I have found ways to stay ahead of those issues by learning how to cope. In the past I used to deal with my plights by drowning myself in alcohol and copious drug use. After going to rehab, therapy, and with the help of my support group I got sober; making me able to deal with the problems that lived deep in my subconscious from my past that I had been burying for years. I had reached a point in my life of my life where true happiness and inner peace, then the pandemic happened. I had to get back to square one and get back to basics by working my program, meditating, and living a healthy lifestyle. Covid, plus a tumultuous election, and the holidays all added to my anxiety.
My Depression comes from seeing death close up and the holidays bring those feelings to the forefront because it reminds me of the people who aren’t here anymore. I now know grief, loss, and substance abuse can really accelerate mental illness as well as feelings of self-loathing to a point where it can feel suffocating. I like many other people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or more commonly known as seasonal depression. Through my journey I have collected some tools and ways that I combat my depression, here is a quick list of five things you can do.
A telltale sign of serious depression is allowing clutter to build, often the overarching mess can also compound feelings of anxiety by not accomplishing cleanliness. The same can go with physical appearance, being unkept is often a way to tell is someone is seriously suicidal. A spiritual leader that I follow once said that “Clutter of one’s space often is representational of the clutter of one’s mind” and in my life that has been true. In cases of serious depression many people cannot work up the energy to clean, in that instance I would say possibly ask someone for help or create a schedule to clean in parts so that the whole job doesn’t become over bearing or daunting. One day clean your kitchen, another your bathroom, on the weekend your living room, and when you have enough time finally tackle that bedroom. Cleanliness is something that helps me a lot because it is within my control, many issues that have caused my depression are things that are outside of my control.
Physical Health Can Help Your Mental Health: Drink Water, Eat Healthy, Exercise, and Rest (DEER)
Depression a lot of times is out of our control because it deals with the science of chemicals in your mind and the manifestation of your spirit. This is my checklist that whenever I’m feeling anxious, angry, or frustrated that I go to and often realize I am lacking in one area. The acknowledgement and adjusting usually puts me back on track. I truthfully feel that physical health can translate into helping your mental health. Your body to some extent is a machine, it works with the fuel you give it and often times we need to check in and see what our body needs. With my busy schedule I often lack rest and need to set time aside to make sure I get enough sleep. This often is normalizing saying the word “no”. I like many people have an issue with telling friends no to plans so often I create what I call a “no day”. It usually falls on Sunday but I make it a point of creating a day for myself to rest.
When it comes to exercise you don’t need to become body builder overnight but you literally and figuratively need to walk before you run. I at the very least go for two walks a week and stretch a few times as well. This helps my bloodflow to the brain that is paramount to helping with my mood. Once you have a good base and schedule ready for your fitness you can increase your activity but most importantly listen to your body! Increasing natural serotonin and eating a healthier diet helps keep your body at an equilibrium and can work wonders.
Check in with your DEER!
- Drink Water
- Eat Healthy
Call Your Friends
In recovery my friends were some of my best resources and I owe a lot of my success to the refuge they gave me. For me it was easier to be honest with them about what I was going through because there was so much less judgement. They loved me for me and wanted to not see me suffer. There were times where a well placed phone call and conversation really lifted me up giving me enough strength to tackle what was bugging me that day. When they ask how you are and your not OK say so, you would be surprised by some responses you get. For me a lot of it had to do with my ego and I didn’t want anyone worrying about me but the truth is that when they are concerned they know to reach out. They know to check in. For me a support group has been a big help and I’ve made life long friends who are my life lines in case I’m ever in a crisis. I strongly suggest looking for one and you don’t have to open up but the biggest thing is listening. You’ll realize you’re far from alone in this.
Search for a Higher Power
Growing up in a Catholic home I often saw first hands the hypocricy of Christainity and weaponized those experiences to keep me away from God or my purpose. For years I closed a resource that was there to give me the love, light, and knowledge I was so desperately looking for. Depression for me came kind of like a midlife crisis, I graduated college, I had a good job, now what? I still had this hole in my chest and nothing I put in there made me feel content. My aforementioned support group was Christian based and led me back to my spirituality. I pull a lot of my ideals from many different religions, yogis, gurus, pastors, teachers, friends, and who ever is willing to give me knowledge. At one point I thought life was meaningless and not worth living now I know that whether there is a God, Afterlife, or Heaven it doesn’t affect me now in the present. This is cliche but its all in the journey, the act of finding God or Spirituality can give you peace along the way.
I hope that the tools I have spoken of before this didn’t feel trivial to the fact that not everything is fixable with just exercise and spirituality. If none of those things I just talked about help, you need to seek professional help. If you are suicidal and have made plans to kill yourself, this is an emergency. Those words saved my life. Depression, Anxiety, Addiction, and Mental Health Disorders are all illnesses and some need to be treated with medication. I personally am lucky enough not to need it but I do know people who use it regularly and they swear by it. I do know that there is a trail and error phase as well as recalibration of substances that is needed to combat side effects but if you are suffering get help. This could be in the form of medication but this also could be in the form of therapy, that also can have a trial and error phase. My Journey started with me getting sober in an outpatient rehab that had classes, one on one therapy, and group therapy. I grew out of that and joined a new group that dealt with grief. That is where I cleaned the wound that had been infecting my whole body since my dad died. It gave me purpose to now I am in a place where I can now help others.
For men it is hard because we have an archaic believe that makes us think that we will be viewed as weak or less than for therapy or looking for support.
The truth is getting help was the manliest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
I was once lost and broken but now I have redefined my life to a point where I’m strong enough to combat the drudgery which is everyday life.
The biggest thing I can tell you is from the bottom of my heart is that there are so many people out there willing to help you but you just have to reach out. Below are some resources that are here if you need it.
The National Suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255.
National Substance abuse hotline 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Lastly if you need someone to lead you to help, I personally am available at firstname.lastname@example.org, email me and put 911 in the subject line and I will try my best to connect you with help.