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A person falls down a well into the water. It is cold and dark down there. The person has enough motivation to climb up the stepladder to get out of the well. One or two people at the top of the well give some support as the person slowly climbs out of the well into the daylight.
This is what it is like to feel depressed but there is sufficient motivation and the means to get out of this deeply troubling state of mind.
A person finds themselves in the same well. It is cold and dark but the motivation to get out of the well is fragile and the person can barely take hold of the stepladder to climb out.
This is what it is like to feel clinically depressed. Such a circumstance may require that the person seeks wise counsel, plus medication for a period, to lighten the weight of the depression and the thoughts of despair and helplessness.
This still requires the application of the 12 practices suggested below, otherwise the person may become addicted to the medication. Anti-depressants do not always work favourably for everybody. They can contribute to unhappiness about taking them, trigger more self-critical views and have side effects on the brain cells, powers of attention and the sense of aliveness.
What is depression? Depression consists of the weight of unpleasant feelings, thoughts, painful experiences, memory, a personal crisis and painful states of mind, such as doubts/fears/anger/guilt or a combination of such states of mind weighing down on consciousness. The weight depresses consciousness.
Thoughts of self-hate, thoughts of failure and thoughts of despair sustain the depression. The negative thoughts function as the wood on the fire. Suppression depends upon such thoughts otherwise it would start to fade away.
As the humble God of Music, Leonard Cohen, a sufferer of depression, sang in his celebrated song Anthem.:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in…
(Leonard sings with beautiful, uplifting and transcendent visuals in the background)
These 12 practices listed below widen the crack. They serve as a beneficial reminder to overcome depression.
Please make full use of them on a daily basis. Write down or print out the 12 practices. Read them out loud every day. Keep a chart of which of the 12 practices you apply. Some days you may find that you have made full use of all the practices.
Do not rely upon two or three of the practices for a full recovery.
If you apply the practices day after day, week after week, you will experience a significant change on your outlook on yourself and life.
If the change seems too slow, then pursue advice whether through a professional skilled in working with depression, a regular course in mindfulness/mind/body work, a meditation retreat or a change in lifestyle or all of that and more.
12 PRACTICES TO DISSOLVE DEPRESSION
In Alphabetical Order
- Apply mindfulness to the smallest of tasks. Focus attention, energy and interest from washing the dishes, to tidying a room to taking a walk.
- Eat a very nutritious diet, avoid alcohol, smoking, addictive foods, strong coffee etc.
- Exercise, dance, jog, yoga, sing and engage in group activities.
- Fully acknowledge periods or minutes or more of the absence or lowering of feelings of being depressed. Allow yourself to enjoy – a blue sky a flower, a song on the radio, the vibrancy of life on the city streets, a TV programme.
- Have regular contact with animals. Keep your heart open for animals – wild, domestic and farm animals.
- Make time to sit quietly in a church or another place of worship. Attend services. You do not have to hold to any of the beliefs. The atmosphere of silence and prayer is conducive to healing of heart, mind and body.
- Remember to breathe, long and deep, regularly during the day to maximise oxygen to the brain cells. Keep the back straight and upright so the body does not slump when you feel low.
- Spend as much time as possible outdoors, preferably in nature, such as parks, fields, woods, touch trees, smell the flowers. Walk barefooted on grass.
- Talk about your experience with a trusted person (s) and about other matters. Talk about your practices to come out of depression. Smile when people come up with simplistic solutions to depression.
- Use your eyes and ears to maximise your connection with the immediate world. Notice different colours. Notice the light. Hear the sounds. Sit in a café and watch with interest the world go by.
- Write down what you appreciate about yourself, such as the support you give to yourself and any that you offer others, animals and nature. Read out loud what you write down.
- Write down your thoughts. The state of mind flows out through the arm, fingers and onto paper. Also consider drawing on paper your experiences, positive and negative. Write down your moments of contentment, experiences of peace of mind and moments of happiness.
Develop the 12 Practices daily for 40 Days and 40 Nights.
Remember all things will pass.
Depression will pass.
There is a crack in everything.