When depression won’t go away

By April 11, 2016counselling, depression
Depression counselling totnes, paignton and newton abbot

These may be your darkest days. When it feels like there is no reason to get out of bed, no point in getting dressed, no purpose in speaking to or being with anyone else.

Life feels heavy. Your appetite might have gone. Or gone into overdrive. Your sleep may be broken or you might find it very hard to fall asleep at all.

Yes theres the heaviness, the disconnection, but above all this place of depression, is that of not feeling. Not feeling anything.

When it’s so dark, it’s hard to imagine that any light can penetrate or make a difference. It can feel like this is the place you will inhabit for ever.

And yet when that feeling dissipates, it can be forgotten again until that horrible moment when you feel it slipping back into the room, darkening the light, taking your energy way again. Taking you back to that place of immobility and stuckness. Why is depression so hard to shake off?

Why being depressed can signal hope

When someone comes to see me for counselling in the throes of a deep depression, I think that it is a sign of hope. It means there is a part of them that isn’t or doesn’t want to be depressed, that can take the step to get help, to be seen in their depression and as more than their depression.

Sometimes, it is helpful to have the label of an illness attached to depression, because it opens up the possibilty of treatment. But I think equally it’s important to think of depression as a deeper call for healing. It speaks of a stuckness inside, that is calling for attention.

Often, it tells of some deeper feelings which can’t see the light of day, because they are too painful or too scary. Those feelings may be anger that has been pushed away, or fear or sadness or something else to difficult to allow into your experience. When you feel depressed, even if you’re aware those feelings might be around, buried deep, it can feel as is there is no point in expressing them. As if nothing can or will change, whatever you do.

When someone is in such distress, I think, first of all, that they are perhaps asking for and needing some compassionate companionship to be alongside them with their pain and depression. To have a witness for their suffering.

Then slowly, it becomes safe to find that other voice that is ready to tell of the pain. When that voice is allowed space, then often the depression can start to take a back seat. It no longer has to keep these feelings at bay.

How to start shifting depression

If you’re not ready for counselling or you’re in it, there are some very helpful things you can do to take care of yourself while you’re depressed.

Dealing with depression is a very personal experience so you’ll need to see how these techniques feel or work for you. Some may have a quick impact. Others may need more time and to be done routinely and consistently.

1 Get out in nature

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You may feel this instinctively, but there is increasing scientific evidence that being in nature can be very helpful for mental health. It reduces stress levels, it takes you away from yourself and helps you feel part of the bigger picture. It awakens all the senses and can help you feel more alive. Having our senses awakened and being in nature can help take you out of your depression and feel more connected with the world and other beings. It doesn’t take much. Even a few minutes each day can be beneficial, particularly if you spend a lot of your life indoors.

Something you can do today:

Why not take 10 or 15 minutes to find some green space, whether it’s in a park, your garden if you have one, or further afield. Allow yourself to be completely in the experience of nature.

• Notice how your body responds.

• How’s your breathing?

• Does any part of your body feel different?

• How is your mood after you’ve done this?

• Are there some types of nature which affect you more than others?

2 Cultivate connections

9 difficult issues with brothers and sisters family counselling totnes, paignton and newton abbot

Photo by James Dennes licensed under Creative Commons

When you’re depressed, it can feel quite isolating. You might want to keep away from friends and family. However, finding a way to connect with others can have a positive impact on your wellbeing and your depression. You might feel ashamed of how things have been or be unsure of how to be or to broach things, maybe for the first time.

Of course be gentle with yourself but here are some things you can try today:

• Confide in a trusted friend or family member about how you are feeling. You’re not asking to be fixed or for them to find solutions for how you are, just to listen with patience and kindness.

• Find help and support in a group. There are many support groups around both real and online (Facebook has some great ones, for example) where you can share what’s going on for you and hear of others’ experience.

• You can read stories of others’ experience at www.depressionstory.com or www.recoveryletters.com or www.themighty.com

Something you can do today:

Try doing something social that you used to do. Start small. Go with a friend if you can and treat yourself with kindness if you need to leave early.

3 Eat healthily

biophilia and counselling outdoors in nature totnes, paignton and newton abbot

There’s a phrase you may know about how we eat our unhappiness. Your food and what you eat can have a direct impact on how you feel. Looking after your body is also looking after yourself.

Here are some things you can do to start looking after yourself through your relationship with food:

• Make sure you have 3 meals a day

• Don’t over indulge in sugary and high fat snacks

• Keep your vitamin B intake up by either taking supplements or eating green leafy vegetables, beans, eggs

Something you can do today:

Try introducing one of the super foods such as bananas, spinach, brown rice, broccoli into your diet if they aren’t in it already. Or if you already have one or more regularly, that’s great. Is there another portion you could introduce into your daily diet?

4 Take care of yourself

Mental health at work and Stress counselling Totnes, Paignton and Newton Abbott

It sounds obvious but taking care of yourself is the starting point for managing depression. You can do this in many ways, but the core of this is doing things that nurture and support you.

For example, can you list the things that make you feel nurtured:

• Taking a walk

• Having a hot bath

• Talking with a friend

• Going for a coffee

• Watching a comedy

• Sitting quietly.

Something you can do today:

Give yourself permission to take care of yourself. It can be a powerful feeling and can help shift your depression too. If the weather is fine, try to get out in the fresh air and get some sunlight.

5 Make a gratitude diary

links Matt Fox Counselling Totnes, Paignton and Newton Abbott

You might notice that it’s the smallest things in life which can make a big difference to how you feel. Research has show that being intentionally aware of things you are grateful for can positively impact mood and you feeling of wellbeing.

Something you can do today:

Try spending a few minutes thinking of up to five things for which you are grateful during today. For example, listening to a favourite song, exchanging a smile with a stranger, getting a text or email from a friend or member of the family.

If you’re struggling with depression

Getting help when you feel depressed can feel very challenging. If you’re reading this for yourself or for a friend or loved one, there is a possibility for change already present. I offer counselling and psychotherapy for depression in Totnes, Paignton and Newton Abbott. As well as working through the experience, I’ll help you get to the root of your depression so you can change your relationship to your difficult feelings and experiences. Why not get in touch for a first appointment?

Like what you read?

Sign up for a regular updates and get my ebook Your Wellbeing in Nature Toolkit: an ecotherapy workbook to help you with anxiety, stress and depression.

Initial photo credit: Infomastern via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

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