Friday, November 29, 2013

Depression: 14 Universal Laws for Recovery

The Law of Blue

Just sort of feeling blue, kinda out of it, gets confused with being depressed. We all get the blues from time to time, and they pass.

The Law of Sad

Feeling sad, while not pleasant, makes sense in the context of the situation.

The Law of Clinical

True clinical depression is not just feeling blue or sad. It's both a biological and psychological struggle that's often best treated with a combination of medication and counseling.

The Law of Boot Straps

When you are depressed, some well-meaning people will tell you to just "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps." The problem is when you are clinically depressed, you don't have bootstraps.

The Law of Music, Part 1

Music can either lift you up or keep you down. Listening to certain kinds of music while depressed is like pouring gasoline on a fire and then wondering why it gets worse.

The Law of Music, Part 2

Make your own list of uplifting, positive, energizing music.

The Law of Coping

You need to have a variety of tools in your tool bag to effectively cope with depression. Here's a few suggested tools:

Talk about it. Trying to handle depression on your own is like trying to do your own open-heart surgery.

Write out your feelings. Getting it out on paper can get it out of you.

Take a drive and ease your mind.

Cry if you need to. There's a great line in Pat Conroy's novel Beach Music that goes something like: "Men die younger than women because men have not washed their faces enough with their own tears."

Exercise. If I can get a client that is depressed to exercise regularly, I know we are part of the way home.

The Law of Lifestyle

I've come to believe that there is such a thing as a "depressive lifestyle." Over-working, over-stressing, expectations of perfection, a critical, complaining and cynical spirit, focusing on the negative in life, feeding a sense of hopelessness through what you read and listen to, all these things contribute to a depressing life.

The Law of Discovery

Discovering they are depressed, while frightening for many clients, also gives a name and a beginning understanding of the struggles they have experienced.

The Law of Warning Signs

Many people feel like depression sort of snuck up on them. They didn't see it coming. As you work your way out of depression, it's crucial to develop a list of "early warning signs." These allow you to take early action to prevent a recurrence.

The Law of "Like Minded People"

If you surround your self with depressed people, you're likely to stay depressed. Or get depressed if you weren't already. And if you surround your self with positive people, it's a lot harder to get and stay depressed.

The Law of Focus

Focusing on everything that is wrong with your life and the world is a great way to stay stuck in depression. By the same token, focusing on everything that is right with your life and the world is a great way to move on out of depression.

The Law of Recovery

The really cool news is that people can and do recover from depression every day. Recovery begins with the decision to recover, and then selecting the best guides and creating the best map for your journey back to the passion of life.

The Law of Getting Stronger

This one comes from a special client of mine who has a wealth of experience in this area. Instead of only praying that circumstances change for the better (which is a good thing to do) pray and work on getting your self stronger to deal with whatever comes your way.

As Chicago, one of my favorite bands still sings:

"I'm feelin' stronger every day............"

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