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Getting un- depressed

TIPS to cure depression!

A short-term client dealing with depression once I asked me if I had any tips for feeling better. Whilst in a loveless marriage with an alcoholic. She didn't really want to do therapy, or divulge too much but wanted maybe some slogans to remember or something? I don't know. She was in a tough spot and it was phone sessions during the pandemic and I couldn't persuade her to try more than one session.

Experience tells me there is not ONE recipe for happiness or ONE antidote for depression that is really powerful for everyone. I mean beyond regular exercise, sleep, and healthy diet (limiting sugar and alcohol).

Those are pretty tried and true. I'm going to take for granted that you know how neurotransmitters and blood sugar and sleep affects your mood. (And to be sure, changing habits in these areas can be hard. If you need to make a change, get support from those around you, and don't try to do it at the same time work or relationships are challenging. One project at a time.)

And the practice of gratitude. Yeah I know you've heard it before too. Why aren't you doing it? I'm not either. Something about logistics. I don't have a place in my day where I remember to write a few personal lines. I have a hard time sitting still during the day and in the evening, my family is around and I'm often scattered and reactive (I need to work on that too.) But ok, so I'm going to start writing a few daily lines in my notebook at my lunch break. I'm already sitting down then and often have privacy.


Accountability helps.

Fighting depression by

Finding meaning in your work

This might be paid work but it could be parenting, volunteering, art, gardening. Are you spending time doing something that you agree with? Something that seems like a good pursuit to you? Do you respect the way you're spending your life?

The antidote to depression:

Feeling connected

Loneliness causes so much stress. The surgeon general put out a warning about it. It lowers immunity to illness and raises your risk of heart attacks. I highly recommend the book Lost Connections by Johann Hari. Often, we have un-helpful beliefs that we won't be welcomed into groups, that we are too different, too amateur, too awkward. These beliefs keep us stuck (imagining the adult social situations as similar as your cutthroat, superficial high school cafeteria, for instance) but these can be questioned and shaken loose in therapy. You are interesting, valuable, and many people in your community would be happy to know you.

Treating depression by

Getting distance from thoughts

Rumination is killer. Do you know what that is? Chewing on feelings and upsetting situations in you mind- over and over and over. You don't need to do this, you need to take action. Therapy helps by offering different perspectives from your thoughts. And noticing why you might feel that way. By...

Learning your own story and respecting your path

Man, "respecting your path"? My cool inner editor just cringed hard. Sorry- better than "journey", right? Maybe not. Journey at least brings associations of familiar power ballads. But my point is that if I went through XYZ trauma, friend, I'm sure I wouldn't trust ABC person who reminds you of it either. I get how you got here. A therapist learns your history and highlights the parts that may have hit you hard. Contrary to popular belief, we do NOT then excuse you from taking responsibility for your actions, do NOT blame everything on your parents and make cooing noises and fake frowny faces at you. Instead, we help you to differentiate between lessons you might have learned as a 5, 6, 7 year old and how you consciously want to look at things now. We find evidence and sometimes prescribe experiences to help get you there. This opens up alllll kinds of possibilities for the depressed client.

Mindfulness with depression

Do you think "mindfulness" is just meditating so your heart rate slows down and you feel blissful? No. That's great but that's something else. Mindfulness is watching your thoughts come and go without getting too entangled with them. With practice, you see that they're always changing and you don't need to put too much stock in them. "I'm a failure. I never do anything right." OOf. That's some nasty weather. Best not to go out in it and try to stop the rain from falling. Just wait. It will pass.

Bring it up in therapy.

Oppression and depression

Then there's racism. There's patriarchy. There's belonging to groups outside of what America traditionally accepted and respected. There's seeing your identity depicted all around you as less than. When we identify this as a cause of depression, we can innovate the ways we treat it - spoiler alert: not CBT. We can use it as fuel to move forward, complete the conversation and speak truth to power.

In the words of Greta Gerwig:

It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are so beautiful, and so smart, and it kills me that you don't think you're good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we're always doing it wrong.

You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can't ask for money because that's crass. You have to be a boss, but you can't be mean. You have to lead, but you can't squash other people's ideas. You're supposed to love being a mother, but don't talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman but also always be looking out for other people.

You have to answer for men's bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you're accused of complaining. You're supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you're supposed to be a part of the sisterhood.

But always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that but also always be grateful.

You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It's too hard! It's too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.

I'm just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don't even know.

It's all a lot. Therapy helps.

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