The docks by the lake near my house is a favourite destination in a walkabout through town on a lazy day. Always helps me clear my head.
There’s a lot of things to be grateful for. That list includes the people I know, things I’ve experienced, and the ability I am privileged to have to live comfortably in this world.
Right now, I’m just thankful to be happy. I had a great day today, it’s not something I often experience. I’m looking at the painted sunset over my town, the headframe in the background, the cat snuggled up beside me, and I’ve got a giant smile plastered on my face.
What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I occasionally suffer from mild depressive episodes. There are things a lot of people don’t know or realize about depression and how badly it can affect a person. The inability to function because of being intimidated by dark thinking. Or how stress can badly affect your health. How the drop into depression can be affected by things like malnutrition or lack of sunlight or any other number of factors, both biological and psychological. I’m really blessed to have friends and family that, understanding who I am and what I go through, are sympathetic and help me shake it off best I can. I should say I have very mild bouts of depression compared to most people who are diagnosed depressives. It is something a few people I’ve known and family members have dealt with, so in helping eachother cope we learn ways to fight the sadness.
There are three things that massively help me combat depression every day:
1. Sunshine and outdoor activity.
I normally find that when I have down days, it’s directly related to a turn for the worse in the weather or the fact I’ve been indoors way too damn much. On those occasions, I hit the garden, go for a ride on the bike, drive to town with the windows down and music blaring… ANYTHING to get me out of the house. Starting from there, I do other things. Taking photos of flowers. Hiking to a spot for lunch outside. Wash the car at the coin-op then heading to the beach to read under a tree. Often, these small activities cheer me right up. Even at work, if the day is dull, I’ll head out with my smoker co-workers for a bit of sun when they go for their breaks, watch the ravens fly around the worksite and shoot the breeze about the playoffs. Little breaks like that help you forget about things for a bit. Some folks like to take this one step further and get the endorphins working OT with some working out, or team sports, or whatever. More power to ‘em The days I hop on my bicycle that’s exactly what I do. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, feels better than chugging a cold glass of water after a good cardio workout.
2. Good nutrition, including a daily multivitamin and good homemade food over 3 square meals a day.
I get up in the morning and the very first thing I do, is grab a multivitamin and a massive glass of apple juice to take with it. Now, there’s a lot of people saying that ‘juice is full of sugar and it’s evil’ and yadda yadda flippin’ yadda. Anything in moderation is OK and I have 2 glasses of apple juice a day. That’s it. As for the multivitamin, I can’t say for sure why, but man, if I skip a day without it, unless I’m eating crazy healthy, my mood tends to plummet. Since nobody’s perfect, I stick with it, and I believe I’m happier for it. As for the rest of the nutrition thing? Well, I figure good health and looking good is just as important to my happiness as anything, so keeping my body well fed with good health home-made food is a good step towards that. The other thing I will mention is that , for me, it’s imperative to stay away from alcohol when I’m in a period of down days. It just amplifies whatever I’m feeling, so I tend to stay away when I’m feeling sad for obvious reasons. I don’t do other drugs myself (never really had the urge) but I’d recommend doing simliarly with any other substances. So far, it’s working. I’m no saint, so I’ll tell you that on days I go slumming with junk food I definitely notice how much lazier and literally how awful I feel. So, I can tell you from my own experiences that trying to avoid junk foods, high-fat and high-sugar foods in excess, definitely makes a difference.
3. Positive thinking and actions.
One day I had everything go wrong in the morning. I slept in, the cat made a mess, my husband was ill, everything was going to shit and I had tons of work to do and I just wanted to run screaming away form everything. All of it, wanted to pitch it all right out the window. But I didn’t. Sometimes, like on days like that, I really have to force myself out of that mode of thinking, that everything is bad or out to get me, or I’ve f***ed it all up again. I tell myself ‘one step at a time; it’ll all work out ok.’ And you know, it usually does. There’s something to be said for the concept of self-fulfilling prophecies, that, if you believe it to be so, that’s the way it is. If this works negatively, I believe it can also work positively. Take a look at what you can reasonably do to make the situation better and do it. Don’t talk yourself into ‘it’s not going to work, it’s not worth it, I’m not good enough, there’s no hope.’ Just psych yourself out to believe it WILL work and get on with it. Force yourself. The Little Engine That Could, and all that. If you think you can, you can. End of. It’s not complete bull, it works.
Anyway, that’s my story. I hope you find something in here that helps you if you find yourself in the same situation. I’m no doctor, and none of this is guaranteed to work, but if all you have is mild periods of gloominess it *might help.
If you’re in really serious trouble where you feel like you need help, I very highly recommend going to a counselor or someone you trust to talk to to get things off your chest. Most good employers have employee assistance programs that provide free counseling, ask about it in your HR department. Most universities and colleges also have free counseling services, and you can find out about those at your student services center. Several organizations in cities offer free counseling to residents in need of assistance, from homeless shelters to women’s shelters to LGBT groups and organizations for various health afflictions and addictions. Ask around and you’re sure to find someone who will help you. I’ve been to counselors before and they can help if you’re 100% honest and open and go in with the attitude that you’re willing to listen and act on the advice they give you, while also keeping in mind your needs, of course.
In Canada, for people under 25, you can call Kids Help Phone toll free at 1-800-668-6868 anytime for anonymous help, or visit the website at http://www.kidshelpphone.ca. There are free resources there also for anyone, but do keep in mind they are geared for children and young people.