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Depression can hit you at any time and at any place. Sometimes it makes sense when it hits. Like when someone you know has died or you go through a break up. Other times, it can hit for seemingly no reason at all.
And depression can affect you in varying degrees. From mild to moderate to severe.
With mild, people might not know that you have depression. You can still put on a happy face. You might even be happy.
With moderate, it starts to get obvious. The depression gets to you more, and it might slow you down.
With severe, forget about it. You’re lucky if you can even force yourself to move. You can’t even pretend to be happy. It’s tough, if not nearly impossible, to muster much, if any, energy to do anything.
I’ve been through all kinds of depression, and it still gets to me sometimes. Though, thankfully, I am much better now about applying the solutions that I’m going to talk about in this post.
According to the World Health Organization, “Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression.”
While I’m not a mental health professional, I do have experience with depression going back to my childhood.
If you’re wondering “What to Do When Your Depression Hits the Hardest,” then consider the following solutions and see if you can add some solutions of your own. It doesn’t hurt to have as much in your arsenal as possible to get back to a healthy mental state and stay there.
Problem #1: Too Much Focus on Bad News
Fear is a path to depression. Fear leads to negativity. Negativity leads to helplessness. Helplessness leads to depression.
For whatever reasons that I’m not going to get into here, mainstream media overwhelmingly focuses on negativity. And too much negativity can lead to depression.
To learn more about the link between negativity and depression, read the excellent book “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life” by Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D.
Maybe there’s so much focus on negativity throughout the world because humanity is still stuck in survival mode. Throughout our history, humans have had to watch out for danger at the expense of focusing on the positive.
Also, too much focus on bad news can keep us from having more energy and the ability to change our lives for the better. If we’re trapped in negativity, we tend to only see problems and not solutions. That’s unhealthy and inaccurate. There are always solutions.
Solution #1: Much More Focus on Good News
Love is a path to happiness. Love leads to positivity. Positivity leads to strength. Strength leads to happiness.
To learn more about the link between positivity and happiness, read the excellent book “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life” by Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D.
Your quality of life depends upon where you put your focus. Sure, you could focus on bad news. Or you could focus on good news instead.
You might have to look around for it, but it is available. I focus on sources that report good news. Humanity has a long way to go, but the strides that we are making are still encouraging.
There are multiple perspectives for any story, and I find it to be more helpful to focus on the positive side of things.
For example, violence has kept on decreasing. To learn more about that, you can read “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” by Steven Pinker.
www.Cracked.com has also had numerous articles over the years about how the quality of life throughout the world has been improving.
Look for the good news that isn’t being reported in mainstream media. There is a lot more progress happening than you might think. See what focusing on good news does for your mental health. I highly recommend it.
Problem #2: Thinking Only of Yourself
At the Landmark Advanced Course, I learned about the 8 levels of life. If you think only of yourself, then you’re missing out on all the other levels of life. The level of individual is the foundational level of life, the bottom level. Above that, the rest of the levels involve other people.
The course leader pointed out that naturally, the level of individual is where depression happens. I thought back over my own life and realized that to definitely be the case. Something I noticed with depression is that it’s way too me-focused. I have felt alone, as if nobody else has ever experienced what I’ve gone through. I’ve felt like my needs aren’t met and can’t be. I’ve felt like I’m the only one that matters. Or even worse, the only one that doesn’t matter. I’ve felt like it’s all about me.
Depression has been extremely isolating. I haven’t wanted to have anything to do with other people. I didn’t think I was good enough. It’s gone the other way, too. I didn’t think they were good enough. I’ve had a tendency to be silent, isolated, and negative. It’s been a nasty experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Unfortunately though, depression is a common experience. Much too common.
What have your moods been like when you’ve thought only of yourself for extended periods of time?
Have you been sad? Angry? Depressed?
Are you ready for the solution?
Solution #2: Thinking Beyond Yourself
The first level of life is the level of individual. As you work your way up the levels of life, you’ll find that each progressive level involves more and more people.
Here are the 8 levels of life, from lowest to highest: Individual. Romantic relationship. Family. Community. Organization. Society. Country. World.
Which level are you mainly at?
The higher up you go, the more you see that life isn’t only about you. It’s about others, too. And that can have an energizing effect.
How many lives can you affect for the better?
Looked at a certain way, life becomes a game. Sure, money is a way of keeping score of your impact as you help others. But also, the number of lives that you’ve impacted positively is another way — and arguably the healthiest way — to keep score.
When you think beyond yourself, you open yourself up to all the other levels of life. You grant yourself the chance to become a multi-dimensional being. At the level of individual, you’re stuck being one-dimensional. But you don’t have to stay stuck there. You can advance yourself. It’s your choice. It’s all within your power.
As you think of others and what you can give to them, you become others-focused instead of me-focused. You start moving beyond victimhood and into victory.
As you’re likely well aware though, thinking and doing are two different things. It’s not enough only to think something. You have to do it, too.
And that’s somewhere else that depression can get in the way.
Problem #3: Not Taking Enough Action
“Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.” – World Health Organization
Depression can have a crippling effect. Getting out of bed can seem like a monumental effort. Standing up can seem almost impossible. Taking care of your most basic needs can seem like it isn’t worth the effort.
I understand. I’ve been there. I couldn’t see beyond myself, and that led to many, many years of having depression as my constant companion.
I wasn’t sure that I would ever share about any of these things publicly. Then as part of my personal development journey, I found out that my greatest pain can be my greatest gift. Since other people have the same experiences that I’ve had, my progress in life can be a role model for them and reassurance that a higher quality of life is possible for them, too.
The more depressed I’ve been, the more action I’ve needed to take. Depression is an indicator that I wasn’t doing enough.
A nasty thing about depression is that I didn’t see the point of taking action and I didn’t think it would result in there being any positive changes. So, I didn’t take action.
If you’re anything like me, and I believe that you are, then you’re depressed because you’re not taking enough action. Depression shows that you’re unhappy about something in your life. You can choose to be happy, and you can choose to do something about your situation.
You can choose to see that there is a point in doing something and that there are positive changes from doing that.
Solution #3: Taking Massive, Inspired Action
Tony Robbins used to have depression. He lived by himself. He was isolated. Overweight. Listening to sad songs. Feeling sorry for himself. And broke.
A friend came to visit Tony and asked him, “What happened to you, man?”
Tony saw how far he had gone, and he made the choice to climb up out of the pit that he was in. He chose to do something about his depression. He chose to transform his life.
This materialized first as a desire to run. To run until he couldn’t any more. He ran as fast as he could and as far as he could.
This simple act was enough to show Tony the giant within himself. He went on to shed the extra weight in only 6 weeks and keep it off. He got married and became a stepfather. Tony went from being an employee to having his own businesses. He went from earning $38,000.00 a year to earning $1,000,000.00 a year in only 1 year. He went from renting an apartment to renting a castle. And he is considered the father of the life coaching industry.
Tony Robbins took massive action. And you can, too.
Is the desire there within you to transform your life?
Do you see that you even can?
The massive, inspired action doesn’t have to be anything big at first. All you can do is start with where you’re at. As you move on, you’ll be capable of doing more.
If you feel fear and if you have depression, those are indicators that you need to take action. Massive, inspired action. Things you haven’t done before. Things you used to do. Things that can really make a difference in your life. And in other people’s lives, too.
What you do for others, you do for yourself. What you do unto others will be done unto you. So it’s best if it’s something positive.
For me, this website is part of the massive, inspired action that I’m taking. For many years, I kept to myself. I didn’t share about my life. I didn’t help people nearly as much as I could. Now, I’m embracing the fact that I do have something useful to offer people. It’s going to expand from here. And I look forward to getting to experience what else I can give. And where else that will lead.
Life really can be exciting. But only if I let it. Writing and sharing are two of my cures for depression. Healthy self-expression helps me as I help others.
What are your cures for depression? What actions can you take that help other people?
How can you spread your love? How can you express the best and the brightest that you have to offer?
It would be a great honor if any of the contributions that I’ve made help lead to you embracing yourself. The giant that you are. The genius that you are.
You are here to love and be loved. Share who you really are with the world. You are a treasure, a gift. You are love itself.
Give yourself the opportunity to advance from service to self to service to others. You can experience the reality that as you meet other’s needs in a healthy way, that you get your needs met, too.
Before I go, there’s one more problem to address…
Problem #4: Trying to Solve Depression by Yourself
You can only get so far on your own.
I’ve tried making progress by myself. And while I still get somewhere further along, it isn’t nearly as much as when I have at least one other person to make progress with. The difference is exponential.
Which would you rather have? Centimeters or kilometers? Inches or miles? A regular step or a quantum leap?
I have my own experience to draw from as well as whatever studying I’ve done on my own and other people’s experiences, too. And this goes with what I said earlier about the levels of life. By yourself, you might still have depression. But once you involve other people in mutually beneficial ways, you can cure your depression.
Yes, as an introvert, I definitely have times where I do prefer to be by myself. But too much time by myself brings on depression, stifles creativity, and gets me overthinking. Those facts remind me to be around other people.
No one is an island. Your depression doesn’t only affect you. It affects more people than you realize.
Since depression isn’t an individual problem, the solution isn’t either.
Solution #4: Be with Supportive People
Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to cure depression. And if your case is severe enough, people already know that you have depression without you needing to tell them. However, they might still be waiting for you to reach out to them. They can reach out to you, but if you don’t reach back, then nothing happens.
If you think that you have something to hide when it comes to having depression, look at it this way. Which is more important: looking good and still having depression or being honest about what you’re going through and having the support you need to get over it?
Relationships are all we have in life. You are worth the time, the attention, and the effort. And so are the people that you’ve been keeping yourself from.
Unless you’re surrounded by people who care only about themselves, you’ve got people all around you who would gladly support you in achieving a greater state of mental health. And other kinds of health, too, for that matter.
And on the flip side, unless you’ve been really horrible to as many people as possible, then you’ve likely got people around you who have got your back. People who want to help you. Who are champions for you and want to see you win.
This is my challenge to you. It has two parts.
The first part is to start a project that you really care about that would benefit at least one other person. And see if you can get someone to work with you on it. The project could be either as practical as possible or something really silly or else somewhere in between. You choose.
Most of all, enjoy the project and the opportunity to help out at least one other person. Enjoy the distraction from your depression. You’re focusing on something good and positive. You’re thinking beyond yourself. You’re getting started with taking massive, inspired action. And you’re also beginning to spend time with supportive people.
The second part of my challenge to you is to open up to at least one person about your depression. Make sure that this person cares about you and will be respectful and understanding. You can’t always predict how someone will react, but you might be able to tell in advance.
Depression isn’t as much of a taboo topic as it used to be. Thankfully, it’s getting to be safer to talk about it.
You could start with talking about your depression with a family member or a friend. Alternatively, you could talk with a counselor or you could call a depression hotline.
Help is available. Always remember that.
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Until next time,