Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Talking Through Depression And Understanding The Symptoms: You Are Not Alone

One of the first men to land on the Moon.  Buzz Aldrin struggled with depression.

The world appears to be a much faster place. We seem to deal with more pressures financially, politically and domestically every day. Weakness in this world is pitied and becomes a hindrance in a competitive setting. Whilst physical effects such as sickness can generally be understood by others and considerations be made, it is often more complicated explaining troubles of the mind. How much easier it is to tell someone you have the flu, than to tell someone you are feeling depressed. It may not be obvious, even to the sufferer, but it will eventually have to faced.
Some symptoms to look out for can include:
  • · Lack of energy
  • · Seeing small tasks as daunting
  • · Feelings of guilt and failure
  • · Feeling anxious
  • · Feeling sad, helpless and discouraged
  • · Difficulty sleeping
If you believe you suffer from depression, you should treat it with as much importance as any other illness. It may not be something you find easy to talk about but it is crucial that you do so, with someone you trust. I spoke to several people who had suffered from depression. I asked one lady whether she thought it was something she could tell others “I do now, but when I was at my worst I couldn’t.” When asked about public awareness she said that “I think there is still rather a negative stigma for something that is actually quite common-I don’t think people understand enough about the causes.”
Telling people may sometimes be more difficult for men. As one guy said when asked if he was able to talk depression he said, “No generally, because I wouldn’t want to be any kind of attention seeker, or particularly want the attention.” A typical strong macho image would make talking about feelings difficult. Even when it is something physical men can be irritable and push themselves further than they should, to achieve what they believe they have to achieve. Depression isn’t something to be ashamed of though and takes a strength to deal with. It is a great accomplishment to face the problems in your life.
Even those who we may see as successful, through fame fortune and joyous persona's can be affected.These include:

Jim Carey

Made famous through his lively acting and expressive facial expressions, Jim Carey doesn't fit the apathetic or dull stereotype of depression. However although smiling on the outside he's admitted in interview of times of despair and was once on Prozac. He stopped taking it after coming through the difficult period.

Harrison Ford

In contrast to his tough characters of Indiana Jones and Han Solo, Harrison Ford was bullied at a young age. He has said how he overcame his shyness and fears when he joined a drama class at college.

JK Rowling

Before her Harry Potter series, JK Rowling has told that she was suicidally depressed struggling as a single mother. She was determined to be there for her daughter and despite some negative experiences with Doctors managed to eventually get the help she needed.

Buzz Aldrin
A man who has achieved an incredible dream which no one else will be able to do for years. With Neil Armstrong he was the first to land on the moon. However he has admitted to times of depression and has said he wants to be open about it to show others that no one is immune or above getting help.

Kelly Clark                
A champion who has progressed women’s snowboarding, Kelly Clark has won three Olympic medals. She achieved every Olympians dream achieving a gold medal in the   Women’s half pipe event at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. Yet in an interview Kelly Clark said the medal wasn’t enough to fill the void in her life. She was feeling that her life didn’t really matter. Then she overheard two snowboarders talking at the end of a half pipe run,  assuring the rider that God still loves her. Kelly Clark later went to the women’s hotel room to hear more about this God. She gave her life to Jesus, transforming her life, knowing she was loved and not alone.

It is easy to feel isolated when depressed making it hard to be around others. Attention can be especially worrying as feelings of being different are on your mind. This is quite common and can cause people to withdraw into themselves. This may be helpful occasionally as it is good to take time out. But too much of this can lead to frustration and even more difficulty relating to people. Most people have known someone who suffers from depression. The old attitude of ‘get over it’ and the idea that it is simply in your head, is passing.
Making people aware can reduce stress, as they will be more understanding rather than frustrated with you when you’re in different moods. If they don’t know, then they won’t understand some of your actions, such as having moments to yourself. It is good to talk to family and friends who can be very understanding.
It is important not to feel helpless. Telling others has helped many people, but you can also still help yourself, even when you are feeling at your worse. Another man I talked to said, “It is better facing up and taking the hits and highs than just being constantly neutral.” He had realised this after months of withdrawing from people and responsibilities. Avoiding situations may be easier for a time but eventually they have to be faced. Many people feel worse doing little or nothing, but it’s also hard to have motivation. This creates a trap, but a trap that can be broken.
One thing to do is visit your Doctor. A woman I spoke with said how medication worked best for her as it gave her thinking time. It can lift you up enough so that you can focus on the underlying issues. It’s also possible that the depression is caused by imbalance of chemicals called neurotransmitters in the brain. Medication can help adjust the balance but it’s important not to depend on them. Your Doctor can advise the best form of treatment and will see how you progress on anything they prescribe.
There is also the option of counseling, which can help you work through some of the more complicated issues. Whilst delving into the underlying causes. There are many well trained counselors who can help you gain better insight into your thoughts and behaviors. You can ask your doctor about this or look up local counseling centers. There may be a waiting list but it has proven useful to many people.

My Story
I struggled with depression for over ten years and for a large part of that couldn't talk about it with anyone. It was when I realised how much it was affecting my life and future that I opened up to others and got counseling through my Church. This showed me that I was a valuable person and that I had become stuck in some bad ways of thinking. I still get down occasionally, but I am determined to press through, enjoy myself and to keep learning and growing. Three ideas I remember are
Work, Food, and Fun


Image by author

Eat healthily. Many nutritious meals are also delicious and a joy to eat and prepare. It has been shown that deficiencies in vitamins such as B1, B3, B5, B6, B12, C and mineral such as Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron, Manganese and Potassium, can cause symptoms of depression symptoms. Sharing a meal with friends is also a nice and relaxed, communal activity.

Image by author

Despite the feelings of apathy and low energy it is important to remain active and to do things you enjoy. Learning new activities is fun and gives you a feeling of accomplishment. Exercise also helps to keep the body healthy which reduces stress and illness. So simply find something you enjoy and do it regularly. I found it positive to more deeply explore my faith. Also trying things I never thought I could do such as snowboarding showed me that I wasn't as limited as I thought I was.

Image by author

Not in the stressed competitive way we often view work. But continuing to be productive, part of a team and achieving goals can help feelings of self worth. It doesn’t have to be paid work, just helping others, working on a project or learning about something you enjoy, will make a day feel more satisfying.
Do not be disappointed if you don’t see immediate results. Stay positive, even if it is hard to and don’t dwell on negative thoughts or events that have happened. The path may be rocky but it can turn towards a happier future.

Copyright © Nathan Groves
This Work Is Not To Be Reproduced With Out Permission.


Grace85 said...

Good work, more needs to be done to help people become more aware, been there i know what its like and would love to help other peope…. good job!!

Betty-Boop said...

Thanks so much for bringing this to make us more aware of what it's like to live through depression, and how to address getting better...Good work, Nathan..

Catrina Taylor said...

Thanks for creating such an insightful piece and for sharing you.

cJonesy said...

This is a great article!! I myself sufered from depression and did not know I was. Long story but the short end is that i somehow got myself back together on my own. Did not know it was depression till I saw commercials about it.

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