How You Can Mitigate Depression
It's my official first blog post for this year and I want you to start this year with an undistracted mindset. This year will be a positive year to remember for everyone of us. We will find many reasons to win big and win boldly. Compliments!
I recently read again about a young man who took his own life. It really made me sad when I saw that the suicide note he left was trending on Twitter. There were two things in the note that struck me. One of them was where he mentioned that he never loved himself and the second was when he said, “life is like a party, when you are not having fun you leave…”
He also mentioned battling depression for 7 years and this most likely pushed him over the edge.
“Depression is classified as a mood disorder. It may be described as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities. It’s also fairly common.” – Heathline website
Data from the World Health Organization suggests that globally 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression. These statistics are from cases that have been identified.
Depression is not so easy to identify as people who are depressed tend to never tell anyone about what they are going through. So that number from the World health organization might be a fraction of what could be obtainable if depression was very easy to detect in people.
So this is a big deal and I think more awareness needs to be raised about this mental illness and how people who suffer from it can defeat it on time. This is why I am making this blog post. And I pray it hopefully reaches at least one depressed person out there and help them reignite their will to live and keep fighting!
Now depression can be caused by a wide range of things which can range from family history, drug abuse, personal bad experiences, overthinking and even medical conditions.
But in this article, I will be focusing more on mitigating depression which arises from bad life experiences, overthinking and worry.
This might sound cliché, but I have to say it again: there is no one in this life who has not had their fair share of problems. You might think your own case is the worst and that no one else had been in a similar predicament than you have been, but trust me, it’s your mind that is playing tricks on you because that is absolutely not true.
I wouldn’t want to prolong this blog post by attempting to share stories of people who lost everything they had and still went ahead to lead successful lives or people who were abused physically or emotionally but still were able to pull through all the trauma and make something out of their lives. These stories are all over the internet and you can search for that your predicament which may think no other person has passed through and you will see true life stories of people who have faced similar thing. So I would not give any examples, you can pause and do a bit of google search about your own problem. Chances are that at least one or two persons have faced it and survived. Thus sharing their experiences, so you can learn from it.
I don’t also want to sound too religious, but consider the scripture Matt 6: 27 that says “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” I personally feel that asides from the other causes of depression, overthinking and worry affect majority of victims.
A lot of people especially young people care too much about having lots of money, becoming famous and being liked by everyone. A lot are obsessed by these things, so when they perceive that these things are not coming to them as they planned, they fall into depression.
Having loads of money, becoming very famous and caring about everyone liking you is not necessarily bad, but I will add a caveat to those things: do not become obsessed by them.
I don’t know your own situation, you might be in serious debt and you are worrying about a way out. Instead of worrying, talk to someone you can trust. It’s true that if you talk to some people they may not care, but you are not sure about that, so talk to them anyways. And if the person cannot help you, you can talk to a stranger about it. The stranger may advice you properly and even help.
Some of the most surprising assistances and words of advice I have received in my life came from complete strangers not even from the people I expected it from! So if you have talked to a few people you know and they cannot help you make headway, take the risk to share your problem with a stranger. There are mental care foundations you can speak to online as well who can help.
First step is for you to talk to someone. God can help you through someone if you are honest and sincere.
Second step is to learn how not to care about the opinion of some people. Yes, I said that. And you can quote me anywhere. Stop caring too much about what some people will say or think. This is another thing that leads to depression. Some parents as well without knowing how far reaching their words could be push their kids to depression this way. Your closest friends or associates can also say things that make you feel down.
If any of your parents or your friends keep making you feel very terrible about yourself with their words, learn how to stop caring about their words. This is easier said than done actually especially if you have grown to hold the words of these people to very high regard. But you can gradually learn to block your ear from their words.
In extreme cases, you may have to make plans to quickly leave the environment where you have people or individuals like that who say things that make you worry a lot.
Now, people who really love us can genuinely make some comments on our lives and areas we need to improve. And sometimes truth is bitter. But then when the person repeatedly keeps making you feel useless and disguises it as good advice, keep your distance from them. There is a way to properly advice someone and help them change rather than talking to them about their situation in a rude manner. Anyone who keeps doing that repeatedly to you needs to be given a lot of distance.
Your happiness and mental health is of topmost priority. Because when you are happy, you can then easily make others happy. Stop putting the happiness of some people who do not even deserve it over your own happiness. Be happy with yourself first! And how do you do that? By enjoying the present moment!
Take a minute, to get outside of your head first. Look around you! You can step out and take a fresh breath. You can call that friend you haven’t spoken to in a while and check up on them. You can appreciate the smile of a happy kid playing outside. Whatever it is... just get outside your head and try to focus on the things that are happening now! When you pay more attention to where you are presently and do the things you can do where you are presently, you will be happy.
You feel down and depressed because you have let your mind go far into a future that have not happened yet! Let that sink in! Whatever you are worrying about has not happened yet! Why are you ruining the fun happening now by worrying about it? That’s why you are unhappy. Depression arises from not enjoying the moment and making this a habit.
It’s true that we cannot be happy all the time, things happen that should temporarily make us sad, but we should at least be happy more times than not if we focus on the moment we have now! If you are always feeling down or feel depressed most of the time, it is a sign you need to get out of your head and focus on what is happening now. I do not agree with the quote by the young man who took his life because life is not always a party… life is NOT always fun... sometimes we will have bad times... we should NOT exit life because we feel we are not having fun. I’m sad he believed the opposite of this.
You need to love yourself as well. A lot of depressed people do not love themselves. They either do not love the way they look, that they are too fat or too slim or too fair or too dark. Some do not like who they are and it makes them hate their own lives. But all this is crap. However you are, the first step is to accept it and love yourself that way. This may be hard if you hold strongly negative views about yourself, but you have to start loving yourself the way you are if you want to pull out of depressive thoughts.
You may not be able to change your body, so you just have to love it anyway. When you start loving yourself the way you are regardless of looks, what anyone says or your situation... you will notice that everything will begin to change and you will feel much better about your existence. Also read about stories of people who didn’t love themselves and how they overcame it. These stories are all over the internet and accessible through a mere google search. Reading them will help you a lot.
Third point is that you need to block your ear from a lot of things people will say. People will keep asking questions like, “when are you getting a job?” “when are you going to buy a car?” “when will you start building your own house?” “when will you get married?” Most of the time, you don’t owe these people any answers. It’s not usually their business but you will get some of these questions anyway. Although a lot of people who are very close to you may ask these questions jokingly, you should not really bother about answering it if it’s from someone you are not close to. And if close people begin to repeatedly ask you the same questions and it bothers you, let them know... by telling them how you feel about the questions. Because some of them might not know that it’s putting you under undue pressure. As long as you are doing your best where you are, these questions should not bother you!
Being honest with people who push you to depression will help a lot. Some of us are sometimes either afraid to voice out how we feel about someone’s actions or we are too careful to hurt their feelings, so we hide what we really want to say. Nigel says, “To hell with that!”. You need to let people know when they are crossing their boundaries with you. If you do not feel good about what someone said or did to you, you have to confront them and let them know you do not like that. If you are in a situation where confronting such people is too risky, you either find someone else to share this with who can intervene or you find a way to leave the environment where those kinds of people are.
Staying there without saying anything about maltreatment or emotional abuse all in the name of tolerating them or being too careful not to hurt their feelings is doing you more harm than good! You either confront them or you leave that place rather than put up with nonsense that could get you depressed.
Sometimes you have to take time off social media. Social media is great. You chat with friends, post your pictures and statuses, interact with other people online. But sometimes, social media could affect you in other ways.
So let’s say you are worried about getting married and you go online only to see that about 10 different friends of yours just recently got married and the pictures are all over social media. Normally, you would like all the pictures and add your comment wising them well and all... and the next day you log in again and keep seeing more and more wedding pics from different friends like that... you will also like them, comment and move on... but then, your mind will start kicking in. A voice will start asking why you yourself haven’t gotten married and if you pay more attention, the voice will become louder and you will start worrying about yourself. Social media has this power because we are all humans… as you wish other people well, you definitely want to experience such good things as well.
Now everyone has their time and seasons. When you are doing our best, the good things you desire will definitely come to you. But you may tend to forget this if you engage too much with social media. You will get bombarded by a lot of good things happening in other people’s lives, that you will not have any other option but to worry about your own self. that’s why you need to take some time off social media if you have a tendency to worry about your own self when you see a lot of seemingly “happier” people.
Have fixed schedules of when you want to get online and how long you will be online. It will help you focus on doing your best and even save you time. So you will learn to maximize the time you have decided to spend on social media and you will be less likely to worry about your own side of things. It is also important to remind you that people never post pictures of when they are sad, crying, depressed or failing. You only see the good news. Because social media doesn’t show you the struggling side of people, you must learn not to get chocked up by it even as you work towards your own good news.
It’s important that in your quest to make money and be like the successful people you admire, you realize that those people you see are end results of years of effort, disappointments, challenges and failures. A lot of people who are depressed fail to realize this. I have formed the habit of reading the biographies of successful people and I have learnt that the road is not always easy. Plenty people who are presently facing challenges fail to realize that the successful people they admire also faced similar challenges. They think those people were lucky and everything was going smoothly for them till they became famous. That’s a bloody lie. You just need to read more about these people’s personal lives. It will help you see the big picture behind your own present struggles and you will not be so much in a hurry.
I’ll like to end my suggestions with this; you must not fit into the norm that society has created for you. Some of us don’t need a million dollars to be happy. Society tells you money == happiness, but it’s not always the case, some people struggle all their lives to get to the top, and when they get there, they still not as happy as they imagined. As much as I shy away from saying this, some of us do not need to get married to be happy either. Society says otherwise, but marriage should not be a do or die affair. You cannot marry an abusive person who treats you like dirt because you feel he or she is the only one who can marry you to fit the “married” category. Your life has more value than that.
If you are driving a 2002 model car and someone is driving a 2021 model which is far more expensive, it should not make you worry or envious or feel bad. As long as you are living within your means, be grateful that you even have a car. Overly competitive mindset leads to depression too. If you build a small house and someone built a billion-dollar house, why does it bother you? You should be happy with what you have and where you are. If you don’t have anything, but you are alive and healthy, be grateful! Once you have life, everything is possible! You could win a million dollars tomorrow? How can you find out if you are not alive today?
The world needs you alive and well. You have a role to play here. Whatever the challenge, whatever you have going on in your head right now, snap out of it and just have fun! I know it’s difficult. I have had my own fair share of when I thought life was meaningless and there was nothing to be happy about. But thankfully through God’s grace I realized that every day I live is a gift from God. The mere fact that I do not know what good news tomorrow will bring makes me happy today and keeps me looking forward to wonderful things regardless of what may want to bother me.
If I sit down to start overthinking or worrying about everything I want in my life... lol... you will not have read this post… and I do not think I will be where I am right now. So my way of keeping my head sane and snapping out of depressive thoughts is by engaging with the present. I enjoy the little things I have around me. I talk to people, I hang out few times, I try put a smile on the faces of those I can… as old as I am, I play with little kids when I find the time and I write my thoughts in a diary or on this blog once in a while… somehow, with this attitude, my problems have a way of solving themselves or presenting their solutions to me… because I do not allow my mind overthink about them in the first place.
Our minds are really powerful and I feel the power of our minds have not even been fully discovered. For depression to be a common illness, it should give you a glimpse of how your mind and way of thinking can control your mood. You control this thinking through ACTION… just do things to snap out. The mind can travel very far on a thought if you stay inactive by staying in one place and just worrying. And if you let the mind travel very very far, it can push to do crazily good or crazily bad things. And it is our responsibility to guard our minds jealously!
As someone thinks within himself, so he is.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
Inasmuch as I still don’t want to sound religious, I believe in trusting God and prayer. Faith in God does something to your mind that if cultivated strongly will help you easily ward off depressive thoughts and focus on doing your best at all times. I don’t know how your relationship with God is, but I will encourage you try build a relationship with him. I still struggle myself, but I still try to draw closer to him. Being a part of a faith based group will help you meet people who you can still talk to about your thoughts. They can help you and through God’s grace, you will be free from such thoughts.
I hope this article helps at least one person to become stronger in this battle against depression. Keep it at the back of your mind, that nothing is worth taking your life over. Our people say, “Onye nwere ndu nwere ihe niile” meaning “He who has life has everything.” Your life and your existence in this world matters more than you even know!
Until next time,
Defeat depression and keep winning!
- Ike Nigel