If you happen to struggle with bouts of depression, I understand. I’ve been there. In fact, I spent more than my share of years simmering on depression and I assure you that I tried just about everything to get rid of the heavy feelings. 

Sigh.

Those who have never struggled with real depression just don’t get it. 

Sure, they want to help and they may even try. They reassure you that everything will work out. They tell you to go get some therapy and perhaps try some medication. After all, there is a pill for everything these days. 

They sympathize, empathize, and try to help you rationalize your wacky emotions that go up and down and all around.

I never really understood why I didn’t have those high feelings like other people. Why I seemed to have that dark cloud over me even though I was doing everything I was supposed to do to feel good. 

You know – the self-help books, the church routine, praying, talk therapy, etc. I suppose some of those things helped me, but depression is tricky. It tends to make you think you’ve beat it and then at the most inopportune time, it pops up and lays right on top of you.

 

 

Perseverance is a Godsend

After five decades on this earth and a good many of them feeling quite lost and sad, I can say that perseverance has paid off.

I used to think I would never just really feel happy for no reason at all. I used to watch others who seemed so happy and wish so badly I could feel what they felt.  So, I kept trying. I kept reading. I took up meditation. I prayed. I went to counseling. I kept climbing that big old hill in the hopes that one day I would reach the top.

I’m not saying everyone who struggles with clinical depression will overcome it. However, I am saying that there are plenty of things we can do to manage symptoms and keep it at bay.

Over the past decade, doing my own “inner healing work” has helped me climb out of heavy depression. I did my share of trudging the path of darkness. I navigated through my dark night of my soul. I shed many tears. I almost gave up hundreds of times. I screamed and pleaded. And, I committed to keep on keeping on! 

Perseverance pays off. I finally experienced a major shift when I began revisiting my childhood and journaling what occurred then. I never once realized how messed up and dysfunctional my childhood was until I’d hit my 40’s. 

I mean, I knew we had issues, but I was not conscious to the fact that since I was a small child, I started repressing my feelings. I stuffed emotion after emotion for my whole life and it wasn’t until I let that dam break that I began to feel some freedom.

 

 

Face Those Old Wounds

It wasn’t easy. In fact, facing a lifetime of old wounds was quite difficult, but I was determined to fight my way to freedom and happiness. I squared my shoulders, made a commitment, and courageously faced everything. 

I also saw a somatic therapist, which is someone who helps you work through trauma that’s become stuck in your body.

As a result, the most amazing thing happened. I begin to feel lighter, happier, and more content. I later learned that as I began practicing meditation, my heart was healing. My old wounds were integrating into my body and that caused the darkness to lift little by little.

 

 

Small Bumps As Opposed To Major Ups And Downs

All I can say is that today I am not that depressed woman anymore. 

Sure, I have a sad day here and there, but that is normal. It’s like having to jump over a small hurdle in the road, as opposed to climbing a 14,000 mountain. I just don’t have that dark, weighty cloud of depression hanging over me anymore and for that, I am so grateful.

Life feels so much better. I enjoy most days now and I am dedicated to helping other men and women get through their depression and come out on the other end.  This is my absolute pleasure.

What about you? Do you struggle with depression more than you can handle? Has it been going on for months or years?

Don’t give up. Stay the course. Keep doing the work. 

It’s a journey and we don’t always understand the why’s and how’s, but one day it will make sense. 

If you need help, give yourself permission to reach out to a counselor. There are many therapists that offer affordable help in person and online these days. I can say for me, spending time in therapy has been most valuable.

Even today, I still see a spiritual mentor once a month to continue to process, stretch, and grow. It’s worth the investment.

 

 

Living Life Happier

Life is precious.

I understand we all encounter pain, loss, and obstacles, but we don’t have to continually live in a deep state of depression. Getting out from under it is a process and it takes time, so commit to doing whatever it takes.

My hope for you is that you can experience more peace and joy along your life journey and extend it others.

Further Reading:

9 Signs of Depression To Lookout For

Helpguide: Depression Treatment

Photo by Samantha Garrote

 

 

It’s no secret that there are many people who struggle with depression these days.

In fact, millions of men, women, and children struggle with depression for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the depression lasts only a short time, which is more tolerable. Other times, depression lingers on for months or years.

Fortunately, there are various treatment options when it comes to depression, from therapy to medication. I always suggest to anyone who can’t seem to get out from under the depression is to reach out for help from a qualified counselor.

 

 

Self-Medicating Depression

One way that some people try to treat depression is to drink alcohol, because they think that drinking makes them feel happier.

I tried this a few times after a breakup years ago. 

I was depressed to say the least. I wasn’t typically a drinker, but the pain was so intense, I just figured drinking would help numb that pain for a while.

At the same time, I also knew drinking was not the solution for the intense depressive feelings I was experiencing. I knew drinking to numb out would NEVER cause me to feel authentically happy. So, that kind of coping behavior came to a halt quite fast for me.

Sure, maybe when you take those first drinks, you may feel a bit euphoric. You may temporarily NOT feel sad.

However, most of the time those couple of drinks turn into more than you’d like and then you start to feel bad. If you get drunk, you wake up the next morning feeling awful and maybe even more depressed. It’s even worse when you’re trying to quit drinking and can’t.

 

Alcohol is a Depressant.

Some people think that alcohol is a stimulant, but it’s actually a depressant.

This means that it depresses your nervous system, causing you to feel relaxed. Therefore, many people drink when they’re feeling anxious or stressed out. They like the way the alcohol calms the nervous system down.

The problem with this for those that are already depressed is that the booze causes them to sink deeper down into depression. What may feel positive is actually negative, and can put you into an awful cycle that causes a lot of inner pain.

 

 

Coping With Depression: Make the Change.

If you’re feeling depressed, first, understand that if you want to ever experience real-deal happiness, you’ve got to stop drinking to cope.

This may be for a period of time, or it may be forever, but either way giving up the booze is necessary to contend with the negative feelings you are experiencing right now. 

So, the first thing you must do is make a commitment to just saying no to picking up a drink. If you’ve been trying to quit drinking and can’t, then it’s time to reach out for help via counseling, an alcohol rehab, 12 Step group, and so on.

It’s tough to get out from under depression when you continue to drink alcohol. 

You may not think it’s a big deal, but it is. When you can stop drinking, you clear your head quite a bit. You get some newfound clarity and then you can begin working with the underlying causes of the depression.

You may have some unhealed wounds from childhood, or you could have a biological cause. The key is to rid your body of the alcohol so that you can move forward targeting the depression.

 

 

Only Drink When You're Feeling Happy.

I rarely drink anymore, but when I did, I made a rule for myself that helped me a lot.

I would only allow myself to socially drink IF I was already feeling happy or in a good mood. If I was struggling with something, like grief, depression, anger, frustration, etc., I wouldn’t drink alcohol. I just wouldn’t allow myself to buy the lie that drinking would “make me feel better”.

If you’re going to drink, and drink responsibly I might add, think about taking on this rule for yourself.

If you’re in a rough spot emotionally, skip the drinks. Let those feelings pass and reach out for help from a professional if need be. If you’re in a good spot, allow yourself to have a drink if you want. It makes a difference.

 

 

Ask For Help.

Working in the mental health and addiction field over the years, I’ve seen a lot of people fall into the trap of drinking to cope with depression.  It puts them on a fast track to even more inner pain, and some have a tough time stopping the cycle. It’s disheartening to say the least.

At the same time, there are so many effective treatments available for depression and drinking problems. The toughest part is admitting that you’re struggling and then, reach out for help and begin making changes.

If so, don’t beat yourself up. MANY of us have been there. And, many of us have changed that kind of behavior for the better.

Know that there is treatment available for both depression and problem drinking or alcoholism. It’s time to reach out for help and get your life back. There is hope for you to live the kind of life you desire, so decide today to stop drinking and start dealing, feeling, and healing.

Need help finding a therapist?

Check out Psychology Today’s Counselor Finder.

Photo by Helena Lopes

“I thought I was going to avoid [postpartum depression]. When I gave birth, the doctor told me about postpartum, and I was like, ‘Well, I’m doing good right now, I don’t think that’s going to happen.’ But out of nowhere, the world was heavy on my shoulders.” — Cardi B.

Bringing a baby into this world can be a beautiful and wholesome experience unless you’re one of the 6.5 - 20% of women who experience postpartum depression (PPD).

Postpartum depression is a type of depression that affects women after having a baby.

In the first 2 weeks after giving birth, most moms experience the baby blues. However, with PPD, these feelings of sadness, loneliness, relentlessness, worthlessness and anxiety exist for more than a few weeks. 

It is characterized by a blend of not-so-pleasant feelings such as fatigue, guilt, exhaustion and poor sleeping patterns. All these get in the way of the mom’s ability to take care of the baby.  

Considering that giving birth arouses a lot of emotions, it might be difficult to recognize the existence of PPD. And, in cases where you might have noticed the depression, you might not know exactly what to do. After all, you have this little baby whose whole life is dependent on you (at least for now). 

Read ahead and find tips that can help you cope. 

 

 

How to Know if You’re Going Through Postpartum Depression

The symptoms of PPD include (but are not limited to): 

While these are common symptoms of PPD, it is also a bit different for every person. When asked what PPD felt like, 6 moms had different explanations. Do not undermine your experiences and feelings because they are different from those of the person next to you. 

Moreover, PPD can’t be attributed to just one cause. It is a product of a lot of complex interwoven issues.

Factors such as marital problems, history of depression or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), experience with traumatic encounters, anxiety and having a child with special needs can increase the likelihood of PPD. 

 

 

How to Cope With Postpartum Depression

Now that you know some of the signs of PPD, the next step is to get an idea of how you can cope with the condition. 

1. Therapy

This can be done in person or online. Most parents will opt for virtual therapy as it comes with a wide range of benefits such as flexibility, it is economically considerate as you do not have to commute anywhere, it is ideal for those with social anxiety, it is affordable and easily accessible despite geographical location. 

The tips below have worked for other moms. You can incorporate them into your lifestyle as well.  

 

2. Talk to a good friend 

Sometimes you might be skeptical about therapy, especially if you’ve never done it before. You might think the therapist or other people might be judgmental. Well, that’s fine and common. Consider talking to a trusted friend about how you are feeling. 

 

3. Get help

Having a new little family member at home means there will be a lot of changes in your routine and how you do things around the house.

You’re not expected to be a super mom. Don’t be shy to reach out to people who can provide services such as childcare, household chores and running other errands for you. You carried a baby for 9 months and deserve to rest. Asking for help does not make you a lazy and terrible mom. 

 

4. Pay attention to your diet

 Remember, what you eat directly impacts how you feel.

Try to have the healthiest diet possible and avoid consuming alcohol. 

 

5. Have some alone time

You might feel like your sole purpose is to take care of the baby and make sure they are comfortable. In doing so, chances are high that you might start neglecting yourself.

Set some time aside for yourself. In that time, do what you enjoy and what makes you happy. Read a book, soak in the bath, go for a walk. Pretty much anything that focuses on you.

 

6. Journal

Not only is this a great outlet for your emotions and feelings. Journaling will also help you keep track of any changes in how you’re feeling.

It will take you on a personal journey that will help you figure out what makes you feel better. 

 

7. Get enough sleep

This will likely be difficult at first.

But once you know your child’s schedule, you can adjust your sleeping times so that you get sufficient and much-needed rest. 

 

8. Find a support group

Talking to other moms who have gone or are going through the same thing as what you’re going through will help you understand that you’re not alone.

It will improve your self-esteem and also help you know how other moms are coping. 

 

9. Focus on your wins

Not everything will go your way and sometimes you might feel like a total failure.

However, in those failures are some wins that we often ignore. Focus on those seemingly small achievements and celebrate them. 

 

 

Living with Postpartum Depression

If any of the points in this article sound like anything you or a loved one are going through, don’t beat yourself up.

PPD is not your fault and having it does not mean you’re not a good parent.

It is estimated that 1 in 7 women experience PPD. Clearly, it is a common but treatable condition. Do your best to take care of yourself so that you can also take good care of the baby.

Surround yourself with supportive people who understand or at least try to understand what you're going through. 

You’re not alone!

Photo by Sarah Chai