Sunday, July 1, 2012

Getting out of depression

The following post reflects one reason of why I haven’t been around as frequent as I would like to or why I haven’t been publishing more photos for a while...

This last year has been very difficult for me (emotionally speaking) causing me distress, sadness and frustration; leading me to a profound state of depression and low self-value. The cause of it I will have to keep it to myself for a bit longer as there are topics of it that I still need to work out, digest and process.

Now, I know is difficult to detect the subtle yet visible trail of my depression over the last year because I tend to use to great extent satire and sarcasm as part of a defensive mechanism to guard me from a painful reality... but at the end you got to understand where you are standing, facing the truth that you have been unable to solve situations the way you want it to be solved and accept that you need of someone else to get you out of it.

Up to just seven to ten weeks ago I couldn’t recognise that I was deep in depression that was affecting my life and that I needed desperately to do something about it, starting a recovering process to a more stable version of myself.
Is hard to get out of a dark place with your eyes are closed.
Image by Brandon Rechten

It wasn’t until I went to Canberra to visit a childhood friend of mine that I was pointed out of this issue; it took to him no time to understand something was off with me, asking a series of subtle questions about my mood, behaviour, eating and resting patterns. Puzzled about the causality of my depression (as I am strong/stable personality) he tried to point me out my problem without a direct confrontation as he thought I was unable to handle it at the moment, keeping frequently in touch the next two weeks, worried I might try something stupid.

But after a short period of time something happened, leaving me totally exposed to this situation to which he called me once more to tell me to get professional help. I couldn’t discard his pleads as he was utterly concerned about my well-being and I was starting to realise he might have been right on calling me almost every day; I had touched rock bottom.

Next thing to do was to indicate the situation at the office (to my boss) trying to appeal to his understanding as I was struggling to get things going on a positive note. He told me to talk to him in person, try to deal the situation without me being uncomfortable and provide a series of advises that I was meant to follow. I don’t think that I have acknowledged to him that I am really grateful for understanding my position and give me those comments.

There were more people critical for my recovery; one of them was my good friend and co-worker that I share desk with and a Venezuelan friend that lived though a similar situation that I was living (apart from the depression). The two of them took a big chunk of their time to be there and listen out everything that I needed to say, just like a security valve I was letting everything out, venting my problems, getting feedback about it and trying to be objective about what things I needed to take control of and what things to let go.

The next following weeks were of intense work on me, stabilising my emotions and getting into rhythm; talking my issues out with friends and therapists, understanding the origin of it all, getting priorities in which I am number one and letting things go.

It may be painful at first... but letting things go is the best approach you could assume on destructive situations.

In any case, I am a lot better now, capable of writing this post to check against myself (and my future self) to keep in line and remind me that I need to flush stress and sadness on time before everything goes dark.
I wanted to share my story as well... to expose what I think it was useful to me and to be able to connect to some others in the same situation.

There are early symptoms which you will be able to detect if you or someone you know is suffering from depression.

Is not just being sad all the time, is an entire attitude towards your day to day that changes gradually dragging you down bits and pieces until you hit the critical zone. Depression appears because of multiple causes but one common cause is the inability to resolve a situation that causes frustration, anger or sadness for a long period of time.

In any case, you might be suffering of depression if:

  • If you think there is no much point of getting out of bed or performing daily activities.
  • If you struggle to focus on activities and you are easily diverted for topics of conversation.
  • If your daily diet is invariant most of days, you probably don’t care and you have stopped eating properly (over or under eating).
  • If you have lack of decision taking and leave everyone else to take decisions for you to prevent conflicts, or because you are unable to made your mind toward one option or the other.
  • If you can’t find anything gratifying or positive about your day or the activities you have performed during the day, every single day.

Does many of these items apply to someone you know? In that case get help and talk to someone about your problems. Try to vent out the steam, get out and walk, exercise, spend time with friends.

Do you still have a hard time to get on the right foot? Then try to following:

List good things of your day: creating a daily list enumerating those things you liked about your day gives you perspective and motivation to go on. For yourself to write it with at least certain amount of items; it could contain from ‘I liked my cereal this morning... marshmallows are the best’ to ‘I have manage to deal with X situation at work, getting my boss to like the outcome at the end of the day’, from ‘the night tonight has lots of stars’ to ‘I have run 2 extra kilometres this morning’. Force yourself to positive and each day you will find a new reason to keep it up.

Get distracted: if the problem follows you anywhere you go, then try to distract yourself by meeting new people, going to galleries, museums, beaches, parks or movies... Chill out! There will be a good portion of it where your brain isn’t trying to psychoanalyse your situation, giving you a second breath of air to continue moving forward.

Stay clean: Alcohol and/or drugs aren’t good advisors and are not a good source of distraction (as you will find out sooner or later that you are losing more than what you get out of it).

Recognise the support from friends and family: is easy to fell into the trap ‘I am the one with the problem, I will work it out’ but in reality there are people willing to take a seat an listen to the things you got to say without judging; they might give you some critics but embrace it and improve out of it as they meant to help you get through the situation. Close friends will not overlook details and they won’t give a critic that you won’t be able to handle.

Be honest with yourself: ask if you are happy with the situation, if you are willing to change anything to feel better with yourself and recognise you have a problem that needs to be solved. Being in a dark place is not easy and bad ideas will pop out of the wilderness of the dark regions.

Get resolution to your issues: facing your problems will be the hardest and the last thing you will do to fully recover. You will need closure of that feeling, be ready to accept any outcome and then face the problem.

Force yourself to do things: have you ever seen ‘Yes man!’? No? Watch it! Is not a great movie but the idea is fantastic. Apply it to your life; every piece of the puzzle will start to fall into its right place.

Cheers and till next time.


David Tchepak said...

Good on you for having the courage to face up to this challenge. I know it takes a lot of effort to confront and try to turn the tide on depression, and it is all to easy to try and deny any problems and just let it keep dragging you down.

Good luck with the challenge. You're a top bloke and deserve all the happiness life has to offer. I'm sure you'll find it. :)

All the best!

Gaby said...


Mariette said...

Hablar de depresión no es fácil... Es una palabra grande pero es tan fácil de caer en ella. Últimamente me he sentido como escribiste, es como una falta de motivación de hacer cosas, cuando sabes que no te puedes dar ese lujo. Me he vuelto mi peor enemiga a cierto extento, ej. me pongo a hornear dulces, comprar comida chatarra y dormir todo el día, cuando sé que necesito entrenar fuerte para un evento deportivo que se acerca y en el cual hay gente que tiene expectativas de mí. Es como un círculo vicioso y mientras menos energías tengas, menos resultados verás y ahí se repite. Bueno, seguramente esto no tendrá absolutamente nada con tu caso, pero que comparto el sentimiento y disfruté la entrada, gracias! :)

Rod said...

Again, thank you Dave :)

Mariette, I am going to respond to you in English (hope you don't mind)... Even though my case isn't like yours, I decided to share my story to get support and be part of those valves to others as I was talking about in the post.

I am glad you could feel identified with my post. But watch it out, if you feel you are falling into depression the best thing to do is to find a confident to talk your current situation with.

Renew your hopes and keep moving forward :)