When depression settles on a person like heavy weight, it’s easy to get stuck in the depression. Because of the way depression works, we tend to slow down, isolate ourselves (withdraw from activities and social engagement) and ruminate (that is think the same thoughts over and over again) about negative things, particularly about ourselves. This can become a vicious circle which where the behaviors deepen the depression and the deepened depression causes us to slow down even more, isolate ourselves even further (maybe we even stop getting out of bed), and ruminate even more about all the upsetting and negative beliefs we have and events in our lives.
So how do start to reverse the cycle? I’ll be honest with you and say the answer sounds far simpler than it can be to implement: act opposite. That is, if your depression is causing you to feel like you want to avoid people and be alone, force yourself to interact with some people. It doesn’t mean you have to get dressed up and head to a party. Maybe you call a friend and talk for 5 minutes. Or maybe you make arrangements to meet someone for lunch. Or perhaps it’s nothing even that formal and instead, you get out of your house and head somewhere with people that you smile at or exchange a few words with. Leaving your house also helps you act opposite of slowing down. It doesn’t mean you have to race or hurry, but it keeps you moving a bit. And if you’ve been ruminating, interacting with people interrupts that, as well.
Some other examples of acting the opposite include watching a comedy when you feel sad or putting on music with a beat that always perks you up when you are feeling down. If you are someone who loves to dance except when depression has you in its grip, go ahead and dance anyway! Often times, if you can overcome the inertia of the depression or negative feelings and force yourself to start with the opposite action, you will find that your mood begins to shift in a positive direction without much more effort. The hardest part is starting, but once you’ve done that, it gets easier.
If this sounds good but you are worried you might not be able to put it into action, consider telling a friend or two (by email or text if you can’t bring yourself to call them and talk) that you need their help to make sure you put your plan into action. Let them know specifically how they can help and what you want to do to get unstuck. For example, maybe it’s too much yet to leave your house, but you could manage watching a comedian on Netflix if a friend came over. Or you might tell a friend that your plan is to call them to talk for a few minutes at lunch time, and ask them to call you if they don’t hear from you at that time. By bringing your friends as supports, you don’t have to do all of the heavy lifting of overcoming the depression on your own. Depression can be overwhelming and taking action while depressed can seem almost impossible, help yourself by getting people who love you to help. And if you are a person who says, “Oh, I don’t want to bother them,” realize that the people who love you are probably concerned about you and feel helpless to make a difference. If you tell them how they can help, they will more than likely be relieved and happy that they can do something to help, even if it doesn’t seem like a lot to you.
Are you feeling stuck, whether from depression or some other cause? Call or text me at (816) 226-4678. We can set up a appointment or a free consultation and start talking about what we can do together to get you unstuck.