Defeating Depression

BY BENITA THORNHILL, MA, LPCA, LCAS-R

chair-1850612__340We have all experienced periods of sadness. We become sad because things didn’t turn out the way we wanted them to in our relationships or careers and now we feel hopeless. Sadness sneaks in because we feel our children are venturing down the wrong path and we don’t know what to do to stop them. Our spouse has been deployed and we feel alone, overwhelmed and overrun with sadness. Sadness is a normal emotion that usually subsides after a little while and we are able to get back to being ourselves.

If your sadness last for a long period of time, interferes with your daily activities, affects your eating or sleeping habits or makes you feel that no matter what you do, things will never get better, this may not be normal sadness and may require professional help. Unfortunately, there is a stigma around mental health that causes us to believe seeking professional help is a sign of weakness. We have been taught to stand up, be tough and to deal with the problems in our lives by pushing and fighting and pushing and fighting some more. However, this approach does not usually work with depression because the person does not have the energy to fight or doesn’t care to fight at all.

To help combat depression, seek professional care. Trained and licensed professional understand how to help you feel better and will use theoretical approaches and interventions to get you feeling better and renew your hope in your life, your future and yourself. Depression can rock you to our very core because often it is anger turned inward on yourself.  The way you feel about yourself psychology will affect your physical state.

Depression can make you feel hopeless to change what is going on in your life. Although you can’t change the behavior of others, you can change yourself by changing your perception of your circumstances and the perception you have of yourself.

Here is how you can start to feel better:

  1. Seek help from a professionally licensed counselor. You do not have to do it alone. The beliefs and stigmas attached to seeking therapy prevent you from feeling better and reclaiming your life are irrational. Ask yourself, if you thought you were physically sick, would you go to a MD or a backyard doctor with no formal training or license? Your life could depend on it.
  2. Eat well. A balanced diet is important in overall body function. Skimping on meals and not eating at all does not give your body the nutrients it needs and makes it very hard for your body and brain to build the energy it needs to work efficiently.
  3. Get enough sleep. Your body needs sleep to repair and balance itself. Not getting enough sleep prevents the body from doing its job and also affects your psychological state.
  4. Meditation can help you to clear your mind. Focusing on the inflow and out flow of your breathe can help you feel relaxed. You can practice meditation throughout the day.
  5. Don’t strive for perfection. Striving to be perfect in any area of life, sets you up to feel like a failure, because it is a belief that is rooted in feeling that you are not enough.
  6. Affirmations. An affirmation is something you tell yourself daily. I like for clients to start with “I am enough.” This simple affirmation means that who you are right now, today, at this moment is enough and you don’t have to be anyone else, because you are unique with a unique purpose and there is joy in that!
  7. Take time for yourself. Sometimes we get so busy doing things for other people that it seems like we don’t have enough time in the day to do what we want to do. Protect your time it is a priceless commodity.
  8. Find a hobby. Find something that brings you joy, rather it is painting, writing, scrapbooking, and gardening, working on your car, working in the yard or reading.
  9. Journal. Write how you feel and why you feel the way you do. Although we often say, “I don’t know why I feel this way”, deep down inside we do. When you connect how you are feeling with why you are feeling, you can develop an action to do that will make you feel better.
  10. Be compassionate to yourself. You can be your worst critic. It is easy to beat yourself up over what you should have or could have done. Life takes us on a journey of many things and one of those things is learning from experience. Each time we learn from something, it makes us wiser. Love yourself for through the good and bad, the mistakes you make and your imperfections.
  11. Embrace your uniqueness. There is no one else in this world exactly like you. You have something to offer the world that no one else does. Be yourself, because everyone else is taken and your uniqueness defines who you are. Be an original not a copy!
  12. Find things to be grateful for every day. Start a gratitude journal. Cut out pictures, words or just write in it, what you are thankful for today. If you feel you have nothing to be thankful for think about your beating heart, a child’s smile, the sound of laughter, the smell of your favorite food, the feeling of warm sunrays on your face, the sensation of cool summer breezes flowing past you. Being grateful for the small things in life, helps us to realize they are not so small at all and that each moment you live another miraculous wonder is unfolding.

“Live life with passion! Be who you are. Love who you are. Embrace who you are becoming.” Benita Thornhill, MA, LPCA

2 thoughts on “Defeating Depression

  1. Lauren Dyer says:

    I absolutely love this! As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, I know that there is a huge stigma around mental health issues. It’s so important to forget about that and recognize when you need professional help. We have to take care of ourselves first. Thanks for writing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Benitathornhillonline says:

      I am confident that with increased conversations and exposure, understanding of mental health issues will increase and the stigma attached to it will decrease! You are 100% correct that being your own advocate is essential, because after all there is only one you, who can be you and contribute what you have to contribute to the world. Thank you for your response!

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