Overcoming Depression and Bracing Yourself for Change
If you suffer from depression it may seem like your life is at a standstill. For me the experience feels as though I am moving in slow motion and the thought of change seems impossible. Change requires action and action requires energy. You may think to yourself, “How can I change when I have no energy or motivation?” You may also dwell on the factors in your life which are unchangeable and how other attempts to change did not work. But a part of you wants change more than anything because being chronically depressed is not how you want to live your life. So how does one do it? How do you transform your life?
Actually, once you commit to change it is not that difficult of a process. What is the most difficult part then? Knowing when you are ready for change. Because until you are truly ready, you will most likely sabotage your efforts. I have written about this phenomena before, in my post, Why You May be Sabotaging Your Own Happiness. Some reasons for holding onto your depressive behavior may be fear of the unknown, feeling discomfort over expectations that come with emotional wellness, or feeling that you don’t deserve to feel better. Make no mistake. Depression is a neurobiological disorder. We can’t just will ourselves to not have depression. But it does require some form of action in order to feel better. And in order to take that action, we have to want the change.
Everyone has their own timetable for when they are ready to take action. Some people are very intuitive about when their depression begins and so they take preventive steps to make sure it doesn’t get any worse. Others will wait until they hit rock bottom and lose relationships, or their job, or their ability to function. Depression can be very destructive and can cause a chain of events leading to the worsening of symptoms. If you had a chronic disease like diabetes or asthma you would reasonably be motivated to seek treatment and find ways to decrease symptoms. But sufferers of depression quite often do the exact opposite in resisting the very things which can help. It can be a very difficult cycle to break away from and requires a commitment to take that first step towards wellness.
Signs that you are ready for change
• You are willing to accept that change doesn’t overnight. You have appropriate expectations that emotional wellness takes time.
• You accept that you will have setbacks along the way. You understand that the journey towards feeling well will not be a linear one. Depression does not happen in a vacuum. There will be life circumstances which will test your resolve to feel better.
• You are ready to take responsibility for your emotional well being. You are not spending your time blaming others or your circumstances. You understand that nobody can “make” you well or happy.
• You have reasonable expectations about any sort of treatment. You understand that medication may help but will not cure your depression. You understand that therapy will only be effective if you are an active partner in the process and you are not expecting the therapist to fix you.
• You are willing to commit to taking small steps each day towards feeling better even when you don’t feel like it or when it is a struggle. You understand that on some days you will have to “go through the motions” of being functional. Over time these actions will come easier as you feel better.
• You accept help and support from others even if it is to listen to your loved ones concerns.
• You stop blaming yourself for your depression. All that does is keep you stuck in neurotic guilt. Beating yourself up will not help you to feel any better. Taking action will.
• You are tired of feeling depressed and you want to experience life in another way. Although feeling depressed is something we know, we want to risk feeling something else.
• You can visualize a goal of feeling at peace and free from the weight of depression.
• You are willing to look at your own self destructive patterns of behavior and how they have hindered your growth or have even had a negative impact on your loved ones.
• You want to feel better so that you can be there for your friends and family. You want to be able to give to others without depression getting in the way.
• You want to have fun again and simply enjoy living your life.
As mentioned previously, the process of change will be different for every individual. We can’t tell you what your transformation will look like or even how you will do it. But what I did want to stress is that change can only come about when you want it. We want to encourage you and support you to get to that point where you are ready to take action to do something about your depression. You don’t need to suffer. There is treatment. There is help.
Are you ready?