We all want the quick fix. The one pill that will solve all of our problems. To carry on with our lives as normal, but to have this one thing we simply take or start doing, and all health problems will disappear. The easy solution to overcoming depression.
Sadly, there is no magic bullet answer for depression. If there was one, then why would so many lovely people all across the world be struggling with this most painful condition?
It's a combination of things that got you ill
Back when I was suffering from depression and was feeling at my worst, I remember being totally lost and confused. I just couldn’t comprehend why I was feeling that bad. “What happened to me?”, was a phrase that kept rolling through my mind.
In hindsight, I can now see how one thing led to another in my life at the time: I found myself in a challenging situation. There was lots of stress. I didn’t have enough coping skills. Lots of uncertainty. Feeling powerless. I also didn’t know how to eat well. I didn’t do any exercise. I started feeling low so withdrew myself. Stopped seeing people much. I began to loose interest in things so just slept a lot. I wasn’t doing anything that made me feel alive and good about myself. I didn’t end my days with the feeling of having achieved something useful today. My physical health problems were affecting my mental health as well.
It was all a huge combination of things that got me ill.
Likewise with my clients, they sometimes ask me why they ended up feeling depressed. I wish I could just point to the one thing that did it. Instead, I tell them that it’s probably a whole combination of factors that led to them feeling this way.
And that can be frustrating. We just want a definite answer. We want to know for sure what caused it all.
We also live in a world that still romanticises the magic wand solution. Find your prince charming. Your doctor will fix your health problems. Get a job, a family, a house and a car and you’ll be happy. Need to loose weight? Just replace your meals with shakes. Just work hard, and you’ll be successful…et cetera.
Life isn’t always this simple. And sometimes it’s only when we look back that certain phases of our lives start to make sense. As was the case for me and my own mental health struggle.
It's a combination of things that will get you better
So there is no magic bullet solution to overcoming depression. But the good news is that just as it’s a combination of things that got you ill, it’s also a combination of things that will get you well again.
If you address all the various factors in your life that influence how you feel physically and mentally, then you’ll likely start to feel better.
In the end, there may not be a single remedy or new change that entirely did the trick for you. It’s likely going to be a wide range of factors.
So take a look at all the various aspects of your life. The big-life questions but also the daily lifestyle choices that you make. When your basic needs for food, shelter and safety are met, consider how you spent each day. Are you doing things that give your life meaning? Spending time connecting with people you like and love? Are you moving your body? Eating well? Sleeping well and sleeping enough? Are you deliberately practising self-care? Are you mindful of how you react to stress? There are so many areas in your life that you do have control over.
Keep in mind that what worked for one person, may do very little for another. We’re all unique in our needs and preferences. We can listen to advice from other people, but in the end it’s down to our own choices of what’s likely going to work best. And for some, working with a qualified practitioner can make a big difference. Whether that’s a counsellor, a psychotherapist, a coach or somebody else.
The solution to overcoming depression is best found in taking action
Improving your mental health is a journey. It takes time and effort. There’s no clear finish line and at times it may feel as if you’ve taken a step backwards rather than forwards. But keep going because it’s so worth it.
As much as you can, try to get from thinking mode into action mode.
Thinking your way out of depression is pretty much impossible. After all, it’s partly the negative thoughts that keep you trapped inside depression. Brain fog and confusion are common symptoms, so try not to just wait for big solutions to come to you. It’s taking action even when you don’t feel like it that will make the difference.
Commit to getting better and put yourself in the driving seat. You’re in charge of your health. Make sure to build a support network around you, and take action.
Examine all the parts of your life that you do have influence over. Then start doing what you can and what feels right to you. You’ll know best.