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Living Well through Depression

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Living Well through Depression

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If you have lost your zest for life, and feel alone in your struggle, you have come to the right place.
With everything that has happened to you,
you can either feel sorry for yourself,
or treat what has happened as a gift.
Everything is either an opportunity to grow,
or an obstacle to keep you from growing.
You get to choose. -Wayne Dyer
 
I have spent the past 6 years in my counselling career asking the Universe to guide me to my true purpose, and the way I can best be of service to others. I am now seeing so many people come forward feeling deeply depressed, full of anxiety, overloaded with sadness, heaviness and grief and in turn, completely exhausted and in burn out. What is really going on here? The interesting thing about this, is that I am now attracting clients who are experiencing things that I too have gone through in my life, some I have overcome and some I am consistently working on in my daily life. I truly believe my power as a leader and therapist is in letting people in on some of my struggles, showing them the way,and leading by example, rather than hiding behind the therapist boundary code that tells us that we should not divulge our personal experiences to our clients. The problem with this is that it leaves clients feeling like they are broken, and that the therapist has is all figured out. The greatest shifts that I have seen in my clients are when I share a well timed “I hear you, and I have experienced this” with them and that I too, have struggled with depression – and have found a way to move though it- allows me to be better able to effectively lead others through their own darkness more as a guide and mentor, rather than just someone telling them what they need to do. 
 
Are their more depressed people now than ever before?
Are the daily stressors of all that one carries around, and the burdens many shoulder- wearing our weary souls down?
Is it the economy, horrifying news reports, and lack of true connection in today’s social media connected world?
Or are most of us walking around with some level of depression, some functioning higher than others, while some are weighed down and stuck in the darkness feeling alone and hopeless?
We log into our Facebook account to see all our “friends”on sunny vacations, moving into their dream homes, with perfect families, perfect careers, appearing to have it all right down to the perfect hair and perfectly groomed children (based on their status and posted photos anyway.)
I believe it is a combination of all the above along with poor nutrition, out-of-control stress levels, lack of quality relationships and true connection with others, and lack of family support that contributes to this depression epidemic.
While Facebook brings so much to the world that is positive. We connect with others we may not ever have connected with, and reconnect with people we have lost touch with by searching them up. Amazing for sure. And as an entrepreneur, I rely on social media as a way to get my message out to the wold as so many now are doing as a platform to grow their businesses; but there is a downside to everything.
I have had many clients report that logging in to Facebook and doing the “scroll”- often leaves them feeling lower, more depressed, and in a state of obsessive -comparison. They ruminate about how they all have it so much better. Comparison is the surest way to misery. And Facebook feeds this in each of us, if we are not aware of it. Who really posts a picture of themselves having a down day, shares their struggles, and photos of their kids having a full-blown freak out? Or their messy house, and that their marriage is crumbling behind those perfectly posed family photos?
I am not suggesting that we should be airing our personal life for all to read and see, but only to make a point that there is always much more going on behind the scenes in everybody’s life, than meets the eye. We all have our own struggles, nobody is immune to pain and adversity. This is why having a true, and authentic connection with a select few friends that we can be real, honest and vulnerable with is so therapeutic to the soul, and essential for our mental and emotional health.
Perhaps this state of being “depressed” is just a human condition we all have, some forms more mild than others. I believe everyone experiences at least one episode of depression at some point in their lives. And many more are struggling through deeper forms, barley able to keep it together.
Depression is not a label that means something is wrong with you. Depression just means you have shut down. It literally causes one to go inside of themselves, withdrawal and isolate from others and in turn feeds the depression. Spiritually, depression indicates “depressed emotion” and often happened after years of carrying on and not dealing with the things that have happened to us in our past. We have disconnected from our soul. This means we need to work through the emotional aspects to start to feel more connected with who we are. The depression is our friend, and has come to teach us what needs healing inside.
 
People don’t talk about this among their friends, colleagues and peers! So the stigma around it is heavy, and only feeds the sense of isolation and disconnection the depressed person is already feeling.
 
So, what can be done? Here are a few tips:
1) Counselling: Seek help from a specialized therapist that understands a holistic approach to healing depression. Be sure you vibe with them by scheduling a consultation, and make sure you feel comfortable with the therapist.
2) Movement: If you are depressed, movement may be the absolute last thing on your to-do list. I get it, but  am here to tell you that you must whether you feel like it or not. Lace up your runners and walk at least 20 minutes daily, and add in some yoga for calming your mind.
3) Nutrition: Be sure you are eating a wholesome diet full of whole foods. Reduce sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant, and if you are depressed you need to avoid or abstain completely if you want to feel better. Alcohol usually triggers depression the morning after, which tends to carry on through the day. This is why I educate clients on how to nourish their body with easy, and nourishing foods.
4) Self-care: Minimum of 3 things you love to do, that nourishes you and fills you up, makes your heart sing and brings you joy. Every. Single. Day. “I don’t feel like it” is not an option.
5) See your MD for testing: Thyroid – depression can be linked.
6) See an ND (Naturopathic Doctor) for a full assessment of your case. They can prescribe the right supportive supplements to help your body heal at the root.
7) Consider a Social Media Detox: See if you notice any difference in how you feel not consuming any media for a week. Journal about what you notice.
These actions steps taken together will result in BIG overall changes, if you stick with the lifestyle changes, even on the days you do not feel like it. Integrating therapy with all of the above pieces will bring you back in to wholeness, I promise you. There is a way out, but you have to decide that you are going to take it. Do the work, and love yourself through it.
Feel free to download my Stress & Anxiety guide while you are here! Get your FREE GUIDE today get started on the road to feeling like yourself again.
Leanne Oaten
info@leanneoaten.com

What do you think? Tell me.

comments


3 Comments so far:

  1. Linda Alpino says:

    Leanne, this is a great read, and greatly appreciate how sharing your own personal stories is a sure way in helping others not feel ‘broken’. You as a therapist and leader help guide clients through your understanding of similar struggles.
    Facebook is definately a pit for comparison and something that I fall ‘ill’ too.
    The tips are very helpful and with my experience do lessen my depression, but unfortunately, what is there to do when the sadness is within and still is present even when taking the necessary actions? (self-care, nutrition etc.).
    What about life events or past experiences or things we have no control over or fear or how we feel about ourselves that keep the depression from going away?

    The quote you posted at the top by Wayne Dyer makes absolute sense, but my struggle is HOW do I change my thoughts in thinking this way??

  2. Julie says:

    Cool!

    I have to add: when I was depressed, it was very existential, and very, very deep. I could not listen to Wayne Dyer when I was in this state. Sometimes I like his message, but to this day, I’m a little bit too “dark sunshine” to be able to read his work. I have to admit that the phrase: “Feeling sorry for yourself” has little to do with certain (most) types of depression and really comes off sounding necessarily harsh. There must be at least 657 types of depression. I think.

    I did not work my way out of depression by the conventional means. I had to accept the darkness, read books about going through the darkness, not fight it, and avoid certain messages that would assume that there is something fundamentally WRONG with me when I was simply descending into a dark place that should be reframed into a spiritual journey.

    Having said that, there are some good tips here, but I would also add that just surrendering a bit and honoring a Dark Night of the Soul (I think there is a book with that title, but I cannot remember the author) is the only way to go for some.

    Having said all THAT.. all of the above is very good advice for the more superficial depression that I still experience now and then.

    Thanks!

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