Depression is another “buzz word” that I cringe when I hear people use it casually.
There’s a reason for this, hear me out lol.
As a therapist, I work with people who experience depression in a profound way. They have no joy in their life, they are going through the motions, they are barely keeping up with what they have to, and they are exhausted.
Now while you might exclaim “that’s me”, there’s some differences here I want to explain and share.
Clinical depression is like a heavy boulder sitting right in the middle of your path.
And no, you can’t just push it out of the way, or walk around it.
You have to wait until the boulder shifts, and then try to nudge it a little further.
Clinical depression is intense, it is deep, and it is life altering. People who experience clinical depression have very real fears of it coming back, and will do almost all the things to keep it away. So yes, it is a lot more devastating than what we typically feel as sadness, hurt, upset, or even disappointment. Clinical depression is persistent, it’s all encompassing over someone’s life, and it is a state in which they just can’t “snap out of”.
People who experience clinical levels of depression will find even the most typical, regular, every day activities too difficult to do. Everything about life becomes a chore - getting out of bed, deciding what to eat, getting through the work day, doing dishes, walking their dog……….the list goes on, and so does their depression. They are exhausted, and tired, and just want to “lay and just be”.
And here is the kicker — getting and staying active is the first step to overcoming depression. Yup, getting active when you are depressed is a sure way to lessening the intensity of depression.
Why is the one thing that a person with depression cannot muster the energy for, the exact thing that will help???
Well, to save you from me getting all kinds of excited to tell you about the brain, I’ll give you the same analogy that I give my clients.
The depressed brain is like a huge house party with only sad people attending.
And coming to the party is 1 happy person.
Is that 1 person going to make all the sad people in the house happy??
No, because there’s way too many sad persons, and that 1 happy person is going to get exhausted trying to change all the sad people.
What we need is a whole gang of happy people, and for them to disperse throughout this house.
Now in this analogy, the house party is your brain, and the “sad people” are the chemicals in your brain that are contributing to the depression.
The 1 “happy person” is all the things one would do on a regular basis. And as you can see in the analogy, your regular activities aren’t enough!!!
The “gang” of “happy people” are the friends you aren’t calling, the hobbies you let go of, or it’s sitting outside at your favorite park, and going to lunch with a family member. Basically, the “gang of happy people” are the activities you don’t have to do — but you should.
This is how we break free from the depression hold, and start to feel better about ourselves.
Does this work for every depressed person, and every depression episode?? I will never say yes to those kinds of generalities, but what I can say is that getting involved in activities outside of your normal day to day will help lessen the intensity of depression.
And yes, it is hard to get up that energy, and to make the effort to do so.
But just like that party of sad people, 1 happy person isn’t going to do it — so you need to get active, you need to get into something new, and you need to find some things that are pleasant and enjoyable.
Then you are on the road to coming out of depression.