Firstly, if you feel as if you may be suffering from depression, you should seek professional help. There is no shame in asking for help. Not asking for help kept me sick for many years. We’re as sick as our secrets and having someone to be totally honest with such as a therapist, can be the first step in finding happiness. Additionally, always check with your physician about depressive feelings you may be having. There are medications which may help and/or you may even be on medications that are contributing to your feelings of depression.
Can’t, If, When, and But never did anything
Depression can manifest itself in many ways from pessimism, anguish, hopelessness, sadness, or a constant focus on what is wrong or not right with us. My depression has taken on many faces throughout the years. The depression I felt for many years was a result of the way I was living. I was drinking a lot and knew inside that I wasn’t living life to the fullest. This caused me to think less of myself and concentrate on all the things going wrong in my life as opposed to things I should be grateful for. Motivation was an elusive thing for me and preferred to sleep most of the time. Life just seemed so hard.
“When I hear somebody sigh, ‘Life is hard,’ I am always tempted to ask, ‘Compared to what?’”
-Sydney J. Harris
In hindsight, I see now the depression was a result of where I had put myself in my life. I found my self in jobs and relationships I didn’t really like or want. Compounding the problem was the realization that I had put myself in these positions. The reason being I lacked a good understanding of what I wanted or needed out of life. Most of the times, I felt as if I didn’t deserve to be happy; which is ludicrous as everyone deserves to find happiness!
Contrary to many beliefs, we can control our feelings and thoughts. It does take work however to get to that point. It takes a good sense of who we are and is a result of getting to know or hearts desires and basic needs.
Taking Action Towards Happiness
Often depression is a result of not being active or having passions in life. Finding purpose, love, and gratitude in every moment possible is a great remedy for most feelings of unhappiness. Early in my journey of self-discovery and recovery from my depression, I sought out support groups and people who were trying to build a better life for themselves like I was. I cannot stress more the importance of finding a support group. Having a group of friends to hang out with made a huge difference in my life and something I continue to utilize to this day.
Keeping the action simple early on helped me stay in the moment. For example, I would be sitting at home by myself thinking about how much work I had to do and depressed about where I was in life. Then a simple idea came to mind. I remembered a few days earlier I had spent with a group of friends I’d met in a support group; and that while hanging out and laughing my worries were gone. So I picked up the phone and called some friends and went out to dinner that evening. We were all learning how to be happy together. I kept it simple and took simple action; take the body and the mind will follow.
This Too Shall Pass
Emotions are just emotions and they eventually will pass. It’s important to realize that most depressive feelings will eventually pass; especially when we take action. Accepting this can help finding happiness, but like sad feelings, happiness can pass also. The goal is to find an inner peace that begins to stabilize over time so our highs-and-lows are less dramatic. At times I still feel this overwhelming feeling of dread, but I know it will pass and it’s at these times that I increase my spiritual awareness. I utilize prayer and meditation on a daily basis but up my dosage during these times of sadness. For me, these moments are quite fleeting and don’t usually last very long.
Sometimes I may just be sitting there watching TV and feel a little depressed. Generally these only last for a few minutes or hours. If the feelings continue for more than a day or two, I may need to setup an appointment with my therapist for a little help. Sharing these feelings with my friends in support also helps me figure out their cause. Most often, it’s because I fear I’m going to loose something I think I have, or not getting something I think I want.
A tool I use often is a gratitude list. If I’m feeling a little depressed, I get out pen and paper and write down all the things I’m grateful for. This almost always helps!
Depression and Happiness is an Inside Job
Like depression, happiness is an inside job. It all starts within me and thus the answer is within me as well. Keeping a journey of actions which have helped pull me out of states of sadness in the past provides a good source of actions I can take. Over time, these actions become second nature and I intrinsically know how to get past them.
Often the key to overcoming depression and finding happiness is getting outside of myself. Finding ways to be of service and helping others is a great way of reducing my thoughts of self and building self-esteem. Try volunteering at a local charity or finding ways to be of service in your community; the opportunities are out there.