It is hard for me to determine when my first experience with depression surfaced, although, I can confidently attest to being a rather happy and very excitable young girl. Life was my playground and every day had treasures to be discovered. Pure contentment can be described as the mental state of most young children; with the exception of early onset depression in predisposed adolescents. Unfortunately, with each passing minute on earth humans are exposed to life’s rather unpleasant features; these moments alter us as children and rudely disrupts our once safe jungle gym. Remarkably, before a child absorbs life’s cruel lessons they are happy, pure and full of jubilation. Not to say many people do not still experience these feelings as they age but it is undeniable that the longer we are on earth the more heartbreak, tragedy and disappointment we must digest. What I’d give to go back to the time I knew nothing and loved every single bit of it.
Up to a certain age the thought of committing suicide never manifested. Indeed, I knew what suicide was but I could never imagine wanting to end my life for any reason. At one point, I too, believed suicide was cowardly and only for the weak. Unencumbered by struggles and responsibilities, I could not fathom leaving this world – and on purpose nonetheless. With each passing day and a new lesson to be learned I began to fear the future; fearing circumstances repeating themselves and facing the same tragedy others had fallen victim to. It’s not quite clear whether my life choices, matters not in my control, or any cards I had been dealt in genetics had anything to do with my mind rationalizing suicide. Had age altered the neurological structure of my brain; or was it past trauma that stunted my once constant equanimity? All the same, there it was – suicidal ideation and my own thoughts became the thing I feared most.
There is much to be said about the increasing rate of suicide, however, I intend to not focus on statistics but on how to continue living and with purpose.
*For a breakdown of current suicide stats please refer to: befrienders..*
What I want to bring forth are the tools I could never get without a price. Despite the accessibility of internet advice for mental health, I couldn’t quite relate to most of what I read in one place. Everything I have learned in psycho-therapy, from many psychiatrists, and all that I have absorbed from first hand experience—these are the tools that should be accessible to anyone, at any time. I resent the fact that we are obligated to pay someone, have medical insurance, or be admitted to a costly facility to “convince” ourselves to not want to die. Personally, the financial stress alone of seeking professional help was enough for me to be nudged closer to the edge. So with all that I have learned along the way, I bestow unto whomever finds their way to this page.
Finding purpose, on purpose…
Have you have heard the saying, “retire early, die early”? Many studies have shown the correlation between retiring from a career and decreasing health. Why is this? To put it simply, the mind is geared towards “goal-reaching” and when a person retires very often they fail to implement new goals. Couple the lack of motivation for accomplishments with social isolation and you get a recipe for psychological decline. So why would the lack of motivation and social isolation effect someone not yet in the stage of their life for retirement? Point being, because at any point in life anyone is at risk to be complacent and reclusive. The mind must be treated as a budding rose; feed and water the rose, or risk letting it rot and die.
Listed below are some key tips and tricks on how to keep the mind busy and functioning for a long and happy life:
- Grab a notebook and list at least ten goals you would like to accomplish this year. The trick to not get stuck with thinking of “reasonable goals” is to list ANYTHING you would like to: be, happen, or have.
- Bonus tip—write in present tense. Examples: “I have monetized on making beautiful artwork”, “I can bench-press 250 lbs”, “my boss promoted me, with a substantial raise.”
- Read—yes, this is not always fun if reading for you has always felt like a task, instead of a gift. However, with the right material, you may find reading to be incredibly rewarding and beneficial. Books that have changed my life:
- Physical activity and your noggin—there is something to be said for an exercise (pun intended) that will benefit your: physiological, physical, and psychological health. Exercise leads to chemical, hormonal and structural changes in the mind and body. Scientists and physicians have mapped out, using specific types of neuroimaging, the regions of the brain that are effected by physical activity. See: scans and chemical activity for further information. It is noted in these studies that the activated regions of the brain may be directly correlated to: better sense of well-being, higher cognitive function and feelings of euphoria. Hate depression? Well, get your ass up… you are one workout away from a better mood.
Leave Me Alone
Depression leads to a litany of related issues. One ironic issue is: depression leads to isolation which leads to more depression. Knowing this, wouldn’t anyone who is depressed choose to surround themselves with company? Well, unfortunately, it isn’t always that simple. All too often depression convinces us that we are not worthy of other people’s time and that if we bump into the wrong person, they will feel obligated “reach out”—which is annoying. No, that was not an attack on anyone who genuinely wants to help; I am referring to the caring person—with great intentions—whom offers a piece of advice that is neither groundbreaking, nor solicited. Albeit not conducive to progress, being a recluse is still a staple in depression. Where to go from here? Do the obvious. Get out of your house, out of your head and surround yourself with people who will let you be—in all your depressing glory—you.
If, for any reason, there is a lack of people you can surround yourself with—join a local support group.
If there is a lack of trustworthy friends in your life you must put yourself out there, find new friends and be accountable for whom you let in.
Drugs and alcohol may offer a temporary relief, and then an abundance of problems thereafter. The rumors are true, these “coping” substances are completely counterintuitive to mental health progress and if ANYTHING in the world will fuel suicidal thoughts—it is 100% drugs and alcohol. Keep in mind a drink at dinner time or a beer at lunch is not the culprit; the “I need to feel numb and dissociated from life—where’s my bottle of wine,” is the killer. Drugs and the Brain is a great reference for how these substances effect cognition and overall functioning of this vital organ. It is worth noting, I am an avid supporter of cannabis use and all of it’s beneficial properties, debatable or not. However, there is a strong correlation between chronic cannabis use and the surfacing of underlining medical disorders, reference: Is There a Link Between Marijuana use and Psychiatric Disorders? Recovery tips from a former alcohol and drug abuser:
- Discover natural, rewarding “highs”.
- Recall your last hangover—depression, anxiety, stomachache? I’m just assuming. Use these feelings as motivation to put down the vice and pick up a book… when you are done rolling your eyes pick up the book.
- “I use drugs and or alcohol to get me through the day; I don’t get high.” This is a common excuse we addicts use to lie to ourselves and ignore the inevitable. Substance abuse always finds it’s way to the driver seat and it is only a matter of time before we relinquish the wheel. So throw the crap out of the car and don’t look back.
- Last and most important tip—you can get all the advice in the world on how to quit abusing drugs, and or alcohol, but the only way to be successful is to: want it, need it and live it. Your mind is your castle and you are the ruler. Make this castle a place you can live in happily ever after.
When The Mirror is Depressing…
Appearance is what people first see when someone walks into a room. Weight, hair, skin, nails, clothes, etc., it is all out on display. Aspects of our physical appearance are a reflection of how we feel about ourselves… and let me tell you why. Every modifiable feature on one’s person represents internal perception. How many times have we picked out an outfit, or styled our hair, that is directly effected by a current mood? Putting all outside influence of “attractiveness” on an indefinite hold, how YOU feel about your appearance is indeed essential to your happiness. It is a disservice to one’s self-worth to deny the importance of self-image. Yes, there are physical features that are beyond our control and these attributes must be treated as the unique qualities that they are. However, if you do have a feature that makes YOU unhappy, then change it. Personally, I am a strong proponent of plastic surgery if, and only if, any alteration is done for the betterment of one’s own self-esteem. Conclusion, if you like your weight, hair, skin, nails, clothes, etc., then flaunt them! If you do not like anything about your appearance, find what works for YOU. If your neighbor doesn’t like your appearance, tell them their opinion matters a lot and to please leave any feedback in the complaint box on the corner of Get On My Level and Peasant. Key points:
- How you take care of yourself is the difference between being attractive, and not.
- If you like something, flaunt it.
- Whatever you don’t like, change it but don’t change YOU to fit in.
- There’s an old adage, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. The most important eyes are the ones staring back at you in the mirror.
*My self-image was a key factor in what lead me to contemplate suicide. I wasted over a decade of my life obsessing over perceived flaws and in doing so, allowed myself to be receptive to any and all criticism. It was not until later on in life that I discovered how poisonous my own thoughts were and that I, and I alone, was responsible in manifesting how beautiful I could be.*
The Link Between Mental Health & Suicide
For each and every mental disorder there is a strong correlation to suicidal ideation. Wherein the problem lies is based on the premise that life will inevitably be: confusing, sad, dull, disappointing and/or torturous. So where do you turn to seek help? At nineteen years old I turned to over-glorified medical professionals. Many times over I heard from: psychologists, doctors and psychiatrists, alike, that mental disorders are treatable with medication and A LOT of therapy. What never sat well with me was the fact that none of these licensed medical professionals ever put responsibility in my hands. Instead, for every complaint and every symptom there was a diagnosis and a new medication. Before I knew it, I was on a moderate inventory of prescribed drugs and quickly began spiraling into decline. When a drug stopped “working”, there was always a new alternative drug to be added or replace a current medication. All of the drugs and psycho-therapy talk made my own voice so indistinct and hard to hear that I stopped listening all together. It wasn’t until I stopped going to appointments and weaned myself off of the drugs that I realized how much damaged had been done; but the journey was only beginning. Left to my own devices I began reading and researching alternatives ways to heal. I am not suggesting anyone forego current medical treatment, or to stop any medication prescribed by their physician(s)—I am, however, implying that the mental health industry is corrupt and banks based off of consistent treatment, rather than cures.
At one time I believed I could not function in the world unmedicated; that alone increased my depression. Once off all: medication, drugs and alcohol, I could hear my voice again and she was pissed. I could no longer deny that the one solution was within me the entire time and it all started with knowledge; not medication.
Please only use my story as a reference to other possibilities and do not substitute my choice of treatment for what might work for you.
Within us all is a child whom wishes to go back to a time when life was good, exciting and full of hope. Without conscious awareness, we age and lose sight of the greatest gift given to us; the mind’s capacity for limitless happiness.
That happy fat-bellied little girl is me ❤