Fighting Depression: Method Two

Small note: this is one of three methods that I found worked for me last week, but they aren’t replacement for medication, therapy or living healthily, they are only in addition to those things.. They can’t cure depression, but notice the warning signs early enough and they may help stop it taking hold. There are plenty of excellent blogs and medical sites talking about depression and the various ways to fight it, but I haven’t seen these three methods (method one in yesterday’s blog, method three on Friday) anywhere else, so I’m writing them down in the hope they will be of use to someone. If they don’t work for you, please try not to get frustrated, we are all different, and depression is a complex illness. 

Be nice to everyone.

On the whole I think I’m a fairly cheerful and friendly person, however, when that depression gremlin starts to tighten his grip on my soul, I become negative, whingy and I don’t smile. This is the depression keeping itself going, because by being unpleasant I cause people to be unpleasant back and then the gremlin convinces me that everyone is being horrible because they actually hate me, so I become even more unhappy and unpleasant, and the misery continues. Usually I tell myself at the time, that I physically can’t smile and be friendly, and there is definitely a level of depression when this is the case, but there are many points before that when it is difficult to be nice to people, but still possible. And very much worth it.

And I don’t think I’m the only one who acts this way, I’ve noticed many other people get tetchy and snappy when depressed, so that everyone around them also becomes tetchy and snappy; it’s self perpetuating. In order to stop this cycle, the best method is to be nice. Even to people you don’t like; especially to people you don’t like. This starts a new cycle, you’re nicer to people, so people are nicer to you, so you feel happier, so you feel more able to be nice.

Now if you are struggling, the depression gremlin  is probably whispering to you that you shouldn’t have to be nice to people if they can’t be bothered to be nice to you; that you haven’t even the energy to be nice anyway; that you’re too hopeless to even try. However, he’s saying all that because he doesn’t want to create a situation that is likely to make you happy. Remember why you’re doing this: not for anyone else’s benefit, but for your own.

Note!: If there’s a danger that people might take advantage of your niceness, remember being nice doesn’t have to mean you do whatever anyone wants. You can still say no, just do it gently.

 

 

 

Three Little Things to Fight Depression

For all my posts about mental illness and brain injury, I haven’t talked about depression, because up until now I didn’t have any useful coping methods to pass on. However, the last few days I’ve felt the depression gremlin creeping up on me, but instead of it dragging me into the murky depths as usual, I figured out a couple of ways to ward it off that actually seemed to work. So in hope that these methods might help someone else (although very aware they might not), here goes…

Spotting the Warning Signs

It’s important to recognise the early signs that depression is curling its fingers around your thoughts. Once the depression has you fully in its grip, most methods of escape are useless (including the following ideas). For me, the warning signs are: believing that nobody likes me, ruminating on past unfairness that doesn’t matter anymore, and thinking of myself in a negative way. When I notice most of my underlying thoughts are like this, bubbling under the surface, then I know I’m in trouble. The sooner I spot the signs, the more able I am to stop a full attack.

So if you notice the first hint of the blues, this might be something to try to stop them taking hold…

The First of the Three Little Things

Focus on small but lovely sensations/events.

This sounds twee I know, and seeing it written down is already irritating me, but when I tried it it simply worked.

Method

Every time you find negative thoughts crowding your head, stop and take a moment to pay attention to something pleasant. For example focus on how your feet are warm, or think about a friendly text message you got earlier, or just remind yourself that something nasty isn’t happening: eg I’m really happy I don’t have to go to the dentist today. Properly focus on that good thing, let it be all you think about for a few seconds.

If you are anything like me, you’ll now be thinking: but how can I focus on my warm feet when my hands are cold? Or Maybe I don’t have to go to the dentist, but I do have to go to work!  The thing is, there are always going to be bad things happening, I’m not asking you to pretend that there aren’t, I’m just asking you to try ignoring them for a few seconds and focus on something good. Don’t just do this once, if you find it helps, do it repeatedly.

And with the negative response, I don’t believe it’s the clear and rational thought that it seems to be, but the depression messing with your perspective. Because the depression gremlin is very persuasive and he wants to survive, he makes sure that you perpetuate behaviour that will make you miserable. If you try and do anything that might quash the depression, then he needs to convince you you’re wrong. So, ignore the nasty voice telling you to dwell on shitty things and, for a few moments, concentrate on the delightful; relish your senses, or a memory, or just anything nice. Give your mood a few moments of relief.

I reckon this method works because a big part of depression involves the build up of whispered nasty thoughts. You might not even notice these thoughts until they have taken you over, but they are there: telling you you are crap, that your life is awful, that everything is going wrong, that you can’t cope. It’s very difficult to just stop thinking these thoughts because they are so insidious and constant, but it is possible to drown them out with positive repetitive thoughts.

Next method on Wednesday…

Let me know if any of you find this helpful. I’m always very aware with depression that any advice on overcoming it can seem like trivialisation of a very serious and complex illness. I’ve been battling the gremlin for most of my life, and I know that there are no simple, cure-all solutions, but I’ve managed to figure out a few methods that seem to help me,  and I really hope they might benefit someone else too.

 

Beautiful Creatures

Continuing my celebration of Monday good things…

I took this photo at work.  We have a tropical butterfly event on at the moment, and I saw this one just sitting on a flower with its tongue out. I think it may have got drunk on the nectar.

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And below are some pictures of the butterfly pupae after we stuck them onto canes, ready to go into the puparium to hatch. Some look like leaves in order to hide from predators. Sometimes I find the butterflies can be annoying, smelly and a bit icky; so it’s good to remember that they are also beautiful and fascinating.

 

Please tell me about a good thing on your Monday, no matter how small.

 

Reasons to be Cheerful part 2

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Not a picture of me, but a beautiful lady I met in Mexico many years ago, who was growing older with style and grace (which I won’t be doing)

Continuing my looking-for-good-things on Mondays…

It’s very easy to get down about getting older, we are told to feel as if life will end when we get old and decrepit, but this week I have been compiling a list to put me in a good mood. My plan for when I’m too old to work and gad about:

Computer games – I’ve played them on occasion, they’re quite fun, but they just seem to eat time and when there are so many things I want to do while I can, I tend to avoid playing. However, once I’m old, and computer games are even more advanced than now, then I’m throwing myself into them with abandon. Fighting zombies in a bombed-out city with a machine gun? Brilliant. Going virtual diving in the sea looking for buried treasure? It’s going to be incredible.

It won’t matter that the world is going to Hell in a hand-basket – well, it probably isn’t doing that any more than it was when I was young, but I’ve spent a life time stressing over global warming and nuclear war and when I’m old that can stop. I’m not saying those things won’t matter to me anymore, but my time of being able to do something to fix them will have passed; it won’t be my world anymore so I’ll stop fretting.

Vanity – I’d say on the whole I don’t worry about how I look. The last time I got a haircut was in 2000 and I haven’t worn make up in years. However, there’s still a small part of me that panics that I’ve got something stuck on my tooth, or that my clothes look scruffy. When I’m old, I’ll look any which way I want and it will be called eccentric, people will excuse my odd appearance with fond, patronising smiles. It will be wonderful. As the poem says, I will wear purple.

Alcohol, drugs and smoking – I used to be a bit over the top with drug-taking and self destructive behaviour when I was younger, in many ways it was great. Then I grew up and became super careful, concerned I might cause myself long-term harm. When I get old enough for long-term not to matter anymore, I will make the most of this. It will be ace, I’ll be a tripping, smoking junkie granny. There may even be some exciting new drugs by then.

These are just a few of the things that no one seems to mention, and there are still all the traditional reasons to be happy – family, going on holiday (if you’re able) and even studying (my mum got her degree when she was seventy). So how about you? What’s going to make your twilight years a joy?

Banishing Gloom – a Monday Good Thing

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A lot of bad things have been happening in the world recently, and now it’s cold, everyone is miserable and I keep forgetting to notice all the good things that are around me.

So I’m going to make a point of, every Monday, posting something good from the week. Either a photo, an observation, a piece of news or a delightful fact.

So what about you, what has brightened up your Monday? What good things are in your life right now?

If anyone feels like joining in, that would be fantastic, I’m happy to link or feature.

This Monday’s good thing, some photos of the frost where I work…

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