Monday, March 4, 2013

Depression Is Not a Sign of Weakness

There is a quote that I absolutely love: "Depression is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you have been strong for too long." Unfortunately, it is anonymous because I would love to give credit where credit is due especially when it is great credit like in this case.

It conveys the message that, despite the depression (and maybe even because of it), we are indeed strong; we have no reason to be ashamed because there is nothing wrong with us and our body simply needs our attention.

Our body needs attention because for too long (depression is the result of extended periods of unrelieved stress), we have pushed it beyond its limits and then we pushed it some more. After all, no one wakes up one morning and decides: "Awesome! From now on, I think I will be depressed!" We build our way up to depression. And no matter what the underlying cause (or causes) for the depression, it takes time to get there. The exceptions to that are depression due to chemical imbalances in the brain and depression experienced by individuals who are taking certain medications that are creating the symptoms of depression. In these particular cases, depression just is.

Today, we hear a lot about people being depressed due to the financial pressures everyone is feeling, the overall state of the economy and the fear of what tomorrow will bring. It could also be the result of some traumatic life event such as the death of a loved one or going through divorce or dealing with job loss or extended illness (among others).

In all these circumstances, we have a tendency to suppress our feelings, to try to put on a brave face, to continue to place others' needs before our own, to attempt to go on as if nothing was wrong, and then beating ourselves up when we failed to do everything ourselves. So is it any wonder that after pushing ourselves and our body way beyond our limits for so long your body finally says: "enough; I can't do this anymore"? At this point we no longer have a choice and we are forced to stop and reevaluate our situation.

I am a firm believer in that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. (Ok, I am also the first one to admit that I didn't always feel this way. I had to learn it the hard way). I am also a firm believer in the fact that our bodies were created with the power to heal themselves but we have to allow them to do just that by giving them what they need to do it.

So today, take the time to ask your body what it needs from you and then take a moment to stop and listen to the answer. Is it some time away from work? Is it a walk out in nature? Is it some quiet time for reflection? Maybe a massage? A good healthy meal? A great book? A fun get-together with friends? Some sleep maybe? Or maybe today it simply needs a little acknowledgment from you for everything it does for you every day?

And when you have your answer, go out and do it. Then see and feel how much stronger and happier you will feel. Go on! What are you waiting for?

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