Dealing with a depressive low

I have hit several depressive lows throughout my life. There was a period in my life I felt that I was continuously getting dragged deeper and deeper into a pit of depression. Nobody around me was aware of it, but inside I was suffering.

The problem with depression is that it starts feeling comfortable. It is like a black blanket of comfort wrapped around you that numb the pain. You know you have to get out, but it is challenging. It is like trying to get of out a nice warm bed in the winter. You know you have to deal with cold, but you want to stay in bed a little bit longer. However, you know that staying in bed will not make the winter go away. You have to get up and face it. And that is the same with depression.

If you asked me how I got out of these depressive lows, I would tell you the following. Firstly, I surround myself with the people I trust the most. I do not isolate myself. In a depressive low, you want to be isolated; you want to be alone, but that is not a good idea. Identify these people early, and make an effort to be around them.

The second thing I do is keeping busy. I force myself to work and create. I force myself to think about the future, and I work on other projects. This keeps your mind occupied. And it helps a lot if the mind is occupied.

The third thing I do is getting out of my comfortable depressive environment. I force myself to go out. I call it sanity walks. The change in scenery and my environment stimulates and activate my senses. Keeping busy and a change in scenery give me a sense of purpose, and a healthy dose of dopamine. Dopamine is the hormone that increases your focus, motivation and memory. It also increases your sense of pleasure, enjoyment and desire.

Finally, I run. I force myself to run. Running has always cleared my mind. As a teenager, when things got too abusive and depressing at home, I went for a run. And after a run, I always felt better and had a little bit more hope. It was later at university that I learned that during a run, the body releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s pain killer and are released during runs. They are the body’s natural stress relievers.

Everyone, sometime in their lives, hit a depressive low or are dealing with depression. And it is never easy dealing with it. If you are in a depressive low or suffer from depression, please seek help, and find healthy ways to deal with it. It will take time, and please be patient with yourself. Eventually, you will emerge from it.  

Please note: I am not a registered counsellor or mental health professional. If you suffer from depression and anxiety, please contact the South African Depression & Anxiety Group – SADAG, (0800) 12 13 14. SADAG is Africa’s largest mental health support and advocacy group.

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