Black cat, black dog, whatever you choose to name it, depression is what I am talking about. The demon on your shoulder, the monster in your head that tells you are useless, worthless and/or just plain stupid. The voice that drowns out your inner voice, your soul, the other one that tells you everything is alright and you are alright just as you are right now in the moment.

DEALING with being STUCK:
stuck in a rut,
stuck in bed,
stuck at home,
stuck in the moment,
stuck in a Groundhog Day day in day out…….

A. Practical Suggestions to Combat Depression
B. Aced
C. Advice that is NOT helpful when you ARE DEPRESSED
D. Life Style Change Suggestions

A. Practical Suggestions to Combat Depression

1. Accept that you suffer from Depression
2. Read about Depression
3. Talk to Someone You Trust
4. Write a Journal Daily
5. Notice The Little Things
6. Remove Media from the Bedroom
7. Watch or read something light that makes you smile or laugh or distracts you from depression

1. Accept that you suffer from Depression
Don’t be embarrassed by it. Depression is a mental disorder caused by the false belief of negative thoughts brought on by changes or events in your life. The mind is lying to the person. Depression causes low self esteem and low self worth. It takes away one’s self confidence and leaves a shell of negativity. Accept that you have depression. Accepting means naming depression. Naming it allows you to tackle the issue. It takes away some of the power of depression when you name it. Think of Rumpelstiltskin. Why Rumpelstiltskin? He lost his power when his name was spoken. Sometimes we don’t know we have depression, we know we don’t feel right but we cannot name it. It’s an uneasiness, anxiety or an unsettled feeling.

2. Read about Depression
Arm yourself with knowledge so that you can combat depression. Learn to recognise when depression is approaching. Learn to disarm the negative thoughts before they become overwhelming.

3. Talk to Someone You Trust
Speak to your spouse or a close friend or visit a doctor and get help. Talking about it can be truly beneficial with the right person. Find someone with whom you feel comfortable talking. With minor depression sometimes just talking about depression maybe enough to deal with depression. (Depression whether it be minor or major never feels minor in the middle of depression.) You may need to take medication for a while to help you cope. Perhaps the first medication you try may not be the right one for you. Keep trying until you get what works for you. Change your doctor if you don’t feel that they are listening to you.

4. Write a Journal Daily
Write whatever you feel like writing. It could be a daily diary or it could be about your feelings, your moods or it could be a short story. It could be poetry or lists. Don’t mull over the writings just write what you feel and run with it. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar, just get the thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Some days there maybe nothing but negative thoughts but on other days you may write down things you are grateful for. Recognising how you feel as you observe yourself allows you to witness what brings on depression or negative thoughts. We can learn to counter these or learn to remove ourselves from negative inducing areas of our lives. You may decide to never read them again, you may decide to burn them at a later date, whatever you do, just write in the now and forget the future. Write yourself out of depression.

5. Notice The Little Things
Make time to enjoy simple things that appeal to you
Example 1: CLOUDS: Look at the clouds in the sky and watch how they move across the sky, notice the speed, the shapes, the colours, think of nothing else
Example 2: A Drink/A cup of Coffee or Tea: Chose a cup/mug/glass that you like, or make a pot of tea, enjoy the choosing of the cup, select the beverage, take notice of the smell and colour, the sound of the coffee machine or the jug boiling. Enjoy the process and the drinking. Think only of the drink. Make yourself comfortable sitting down to drink it and enjoy the moment. Think of nothing else but the coffee or tea or whatever you choose to drink.
(If you don’t drink caffeinated beverages then how about a glass of water with a slice of lemon or lime, or a slice of watermelon. Get a nice straw. Whatever makes you feel good in the moment.)

6. Remove Media from the Bedroom
By this I mean, remove television, iPads, computers, smart phones, computer games, video games from the bedroom. Allow the bedroom to be what it was designed for. Remove the mental stimulation. Have a book beside the bed to help you wind down before sleeping.

7. Watch or read something light that makes you smile or laugh or distracts you from depression
A film that you like, cute cat videos, video games, light holiday reading books, photos. Try to avoid watching the news.

B.  Acedia
Did you know that Acedia was classed as one of the cardinal sins. There were in fact eight deadly sins. Over time the word Acedia has disappeared from the sins and seven remain. Acedia, what is it? Described as being sloth like, not caring or being concerned with the world, being unable to function. Sounds like depression to me. Perhaps it was removed from the cardinal sins because it became so prevalent? Monks used to worry about acedia when they became distracted from their prayers, not being able to perform ones duties. Read Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks and A Writer’s Life by Kathleen Norris for further study.

C.  Advice that is NOT helpful when you ARE DEPRESSED

a. Smile, Be Happy
We just want these happy non-depressed people to go away. If we could be happy we would be. Depression is an illness. It is like telling a paraplegic to will themselves to walk. It may be mind over matter for depression but it is a mental illness and the mind is telling us we are hopeless and useless. The mind is lying to us and filling us with thoughts that are not real, and making us believe them. We don’t chose to be depressed. It happens and it takes us prisoner. We want to escape imprisonment. We want to enter the door marked happy but we cannot find the door.

b. Exercise
When you can only get out of bed to get to the lavatory, exercise is a joke. Don’t attempt this. For those that suffer from depression, and it affects us all differently, we know that exercise is good for us, we have depression we aren’t stupid. We just cannot manage exercise. We will try to go for a walk, get outside, open a window. On a bad day this is all the exercise you will get from us.

c. Asking “Why are you depressed?
If we knew why we were depressed we might not be in that situation. Most often we have no idea why we are depressed and asking that only irritates the person who is depressed. It adds to the mountain, of yet another thing that we aren’t able to do.

I think you get the idea. Some people mean well but it really isn’t helpful when someone says, “Cheer Up!” It is not welcome.

D.  Life Style Change Suggestions
We seem to get depression when we are going through a life change or a life event. If you feel down for a few days then you aren’t depressed, you are just feeling down. It will go away, it’s natural. But when this feeling of being down and sad lasts for weeks or longer then it gets named as depression. Grief is perhaps different. But I don’t know enough about that to discuss grief here.  Maybe depression is a hint that we need to change our lifestyle, or environment, our job, our social influences, our food, our direction. Sometimes it maybe that we are unable to cope for no apparent reason. It maybe triggered by negative events on television. Sometimes we just don’t know why depression is triggered. It may also just be a chemical imbalance and be corrected with medication. Everyone is different and so what triggers depression for one may not affect another. Likewise with coping mechanisms, what works for one person may have no effect on another. We need to try and see what works for ourselves.

Below are suggestions to improve your lifestyle when you are in the right frame of mind. Dealing with depression takes time and so does making changes to our lifestyle. I do not believe in quick fixes. They end up causing more damage in the long run. So I say again if you aren’t in the right frame of mind read below at another time. Go do some light reading, watch a film you like, be kind to yourself, have a hot shower or a hot bath. Leave this talk of change to a day when you can deal with it better.

Here are some ideas to help make your lifestyle more you. Take what is relevant and discard the rest. I challenge you to make ONE change this week. (Not one from each category but just one small change.)

1. Routine
2. Food

3. Exercise
4. Sleep
5. De-Stress
6. Learning
7. Social

If you don’t have one already, create a routine for yourself, your household that you feel comfortable with. Create order in your life. Now don’t go start filling your planner to overload. Start small and add one item that you do daily and build on it each week. Adding one item weekly. Reward yourself when you complete your task. It can be a simply saying to yourself: Well Done! Or it can be a treat of your choosing. The purpose of a routine is that when it becomes a habit and almost automatic. So that when you perhaps aren’t your usual self you will be able to carryout these routines without thinking. Don’t be hard on yourself if you forget to do something. Say “Silly me. Never mind!” and try again tomorrow.

Are you still wondering what I mean by a routine? Well let’s start with bedtime, do you go to bed at the same time each night? Do you have enough hours of sleep? Set a time to get ready for bed and aim to be in bed half an hour later. Go check that the doors and windows are locked, brush your teeth and get your clothes ready for tomorrow, set the dishwasher on. Hang on a minute here you maybe saying I don’t do those things. Well that’s alright then. Get ready for bed any which way is comfortable for you. Setting a routine or structure gives your body and mind a rest.

ONE thing…
What would you add to your routine this week?

Look at what you eat and see how you could make a small change for the better. Do you have a balanced diet? Do you eat enough vegetables? Enough fruit? Do you eat out every night of the week? Do you cook food from scratch? Do you drink too much alcohol? Do you drink too much carbonated drinks? Don’t try and change your food habits all at once. Change one thing and add or subtract it from your weekly routine. Continue changing your food/drink until you have a diet that is best for you. (Diet here means nutrition, not briefly starving yourself)

1.  If you eat takeaways/takeout five times a week try making it four times a week and cook at home instead the rest of the time.
2. If you don’t feel that you aren’t eating enough vegetables, add one to your meal.
3.  If you don’t seem to have enough time to cook every night, cook extra portions and freeze them so you can use them on days when you don’t have enough time.
4.  Start a meal planner and write suggestions or get the rest of your family to write suggestions.
5.  If you drink six cans of carbonated drinks a week, reduce it down to five cans a week.
6.  If you drink alcohol every night of the week. Have one night off a week.

ONE thing…
What small change would you do this week?

Look at the video here and tell me if that doesn’t motivate you to move your body a little more. 20-30 minutes a day.
If you really detest exercise or you really cannot remember how try these suggestions:
1. Park your car at the supermarket far from the door.
2. Get off the lift/elevator at the floor below and walk one flight of stairs
3. Take the stairs when you are given an option
4. Get off the bus or subway on stop before your regular stop and walk to work/the shops the rest of the way (if realistic to your situation)
5. If you drive to work, then park your car further away from the entrance
6. Wear a pedometer and count how many steps you walk and gradually increase them

ONE thing…
What change would you make this week?

Are you getting enough sleep? Are you being kind to yourself and starting to go to bed early enough? Do you have too many distractions in the bedroom? Remove the clutter and the electronic media. Use the bedroom for what it was designed. Eight is the magic number for the optimal number of hours to sleep. Some people may need longer some on less. For some of us it may be impossible to get the correct number of hours because of a newborn, job or illness, in that case what about napping at other times?
Do you get enough sleep? Too much sleep?

ONE thing…
What time are you going to bed tonight?

Do you get outside enough? Take time to yourself and be in nature. Go for a walk. Listen to the birds. Feel the wind on your face. Step out from your space and commune with nature. Even if you are in a big city you can still look up at the sky and see the clouds. Stop off at a market and smell the produce. Play the guitar? Have a hot bath? Watch a movie? Play computer games? Cook a meal from scratch? Play sport? Learn dance? Go to a language class,….
Investigate relaxation techniques to help you cope, breathing exercises, relaxation meditations that you can incorporate into your daily or weekly routines.

ONE thing…
What would you do to relax?

Learning about Depression and trying the best way that fits you. Read as much as you can about it. Knowledge is power and the best way to deal with any obstacle. Read up about nutrition and exercise and find the best way for you to relax. This maybe through sport or music or art. Find something to bring back the giggle in you. What do you enjoy doing? Make time for it again. Read up on your new interest and involve yourself. Enjoy!

ONE thing…
What would you chose to learn?

Do you interact enough with others?
Are you participating enough with others?
Are you too isolated?
Can you improve your situation?
Can you meet up with like-minded people?
In person? Online? Viber? Skyping?
Are you in the right relationship?
Are you contributing enough?
Do you show you care enough?
Do you make enough effort?
Do you feel the need to join a group to interact more with others?
Do you engage in conversation when you buy something at a shop?
Do you smile when making small talk?
Do you fake it until you feel something?
Are you being true to yourself?

ONE thing…
What small change would you do to improve your social connection with others?



You made it to here.
Don’t listen to advice from others.
Find your own path.
If in the end you don’t feel like doing anything.
Then don’t.
Lie in bed.
Just breathe.
Don’t be pushed into anything you don’t want to do.
You have nothing to prove to anyone.
Give yourself a break.
Good music helps.
Or a good book or two.

Stromae – Formidable