“A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action, not reaction.” — by Rita Mae Brown
For depression level(s): Severe.
Unlike the ironically funny Top Ten list I wrote a few weeks ago, “Top Ten Things NOT to Do When You’re Depressed,” this article is as serious as, well — depression.
I wasn’t planning to write on this topic today. In fact, I was going to supply you with my original recipe for gluten-free pot roast, as a follow-on to last week’s “Eating Wheat Can Cause Depression.” (Check this blog over the next week or two; I’ll share the recipe soon.)
But the fact is, it’s hot here in central Texas. I don’t mean just fan-your-face warm. I mean searing. We’re in a drought here, folks: Ten inches of rain below the average for this year already, and a ten-inch deficit left over from last year. And we’re already in triple-digit temperatures. What does this have to do with depression, you ask?
Heat + Glaring sun + Drought + Being cooped inside + Isolation = Depression
People tend to think of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as applying only to cold, rainy, cloudy climes in the wintertime, places like Seattle, Milwaukee, Helsinki, or London. But the fact is, SAD can occur in the summertime, too, due to too much of a good thing: Sun. The primary reason I moved away from southern Arizona was because I became increasingly suicidal with each summer that passed. The summers there are absolutely brutal. I moved here because I have family here; it never occurred to me that it could get as miserably hot and dry and glaring as it does in Arizona. BIG miscalculation.
So, yes, my depression has kicked up in a big way, and I am in a bad way. Fortunately, I have friends and family who love me and who are willing and able to be there for me when I need them. (God bless them, because for sure I’m not pleasant to be around when I get like this.) My mother suggested I write up the most important things a depressive can do to help herself when the depression gets really, really bad.
Since in helping others I tend to help myself, I’ve taken an imperfect stab at the top ten things in our survival toolkit. The first five (nos. 10-6) are listed below; the second five (nos. 5-1) can be found in a separate posting: Top Ten Remedies for Depression Emergencies — Part 2.
10. Call someone. Immediately. Don’t wait. Better yet, call several someones and ask one of them to come over. Right now. This is not a good time for you to be alone. So what if you haven’t showered in two days and dirty dishes litter your kitchen counters. The folks who really love you won’t care. (Yes, there are people who love you, even if your depression brain says otherwise.)
9. Don’t listen to anything your depression brain says. It is lying. Anything your mind comes up with at this point is suspect; don’t give it any credence whatsoever. Just this morning, my mind told me that I am a complete loser, a waste of space on the planet, that I’m unloved and unwanted, and that I should never have been born. Instead, replace all that ugliness with a positive affirmation and keep saying it over and over again, like a mantra. One of my favorite ones is, “I’m lovable, worthy, wanted, and good enough just as I am.”
8. Take a walk. Seriously. Put on your raggedy old t-shirt and shorts and ask a friend or family member to drag you outside. You have to get moving. Getting the oxygen and the endorphins flowing is imperative.
7. Give your brain something else to do. Distract it by going to the movies, sitting at a cafe and reading, talking with a friend over lunch — anything so you don’t have to think. Ruinous rumination is to be avoided at all costs. See “When the Going Gets Tough…” for more distraction techniques.
6. Do some EFT. Emotional Freedom Techniques, that is. This can bring your mind and body out of a state of emergency and give you the ability to make better choices. If you already know EFT, great; you’re in business. If not, at some point in the future when you’re feeling better, you can teach yourself how to do it by downloading the free manual from EFT Universe or by watching videos on YouTube. Right now, this is probably beyond you, so here’s something very simple you can do:
- On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being “suicidal” and 1 being “barely noticeable,” note the intensity level of your depression.
- With the middle and ring fingers of your right hand, tap on the “karate chop point” of your left hand (the bottom edge of your hand when your thumb is pointing up toward the ceiling).
- As you tap, say to yourself, “Even though my depression is bad today, I deeply and completely love and accept myself anyway.” Do this several times.
- Switch hands, so that now you are tapping on your right hand’s karate chop point with the middle and ring fingers of your left hand. Continue saying the affirmation.
- Take note of your intensity level now. It should have gone down by several points.
Take good care of yourself. You’re worth it (as am I). Remember: This, too, shall pass.
(c) 2011 by Patricia R. Henschen, M.A.
Do you know anyone who is in a depressive crisis? If so, please share this with them! It may help.