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12 Lessons on Facing Depression and Anxiety

12 Lessons on Facing Depression and Anxiety

It’s been twenty five years since my first depressive episode and there have been many dark periods since. Some of these episodes were so bad, the only relief I could get was to think about my own death. It took me a long time to learn these lessons and now that I am finally well I will remember them for the next time .

Maybe you have learned some of these lessons yourself. If not, I hope this is helpful.

1. We should never go it alone.

When we are depressed and anxious we alienate ourselves and abandon our social lives. Not only that, but we often refrain from speaking about our problems with family, friends or even our doctors. It is so important to be open and honest about your illness. This way you can avail yourself of loving help, support and medical care. This makes all the difference when fighting a devastating illness like this.

2. We should only take baby steps.

Rome wasn’t built in a day — and depression and anxiety will not go away overnight. It takes time to get better and the best way to approach this process is with baby steps. Focus on feeling a little bit every day. Sometimes it might be a case of two steps forward and three steps back, but with determination and a positive attitude you can get better over time.

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3. Positive thinking is possible.

I have first hand experience of positive thinking in depression. It can be done and it is effective; I’m certain it prevented me from slipping further into depression and it kept me in a place where I could function. Writing down positive affirmations and statements of gratitude are well documented to lift mood — just because you’re ill doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from this.

4. Look forward to a bright future.

We are never depressed ‘forever’ — it just doesn’t work that way. Every cloud has a silver lining. Of course, when we are depressed we don’t see the silver lining; it has to be pointed out to us. There is no reason for us to believe that there aren’t fantastic experiences and sunny days ahead for us. Keeping that hope alive can save us from severe illness or help us through it.

5. We can make the most of melancholy.

You heard me — it ain’t all bad. We can be at our most creative at certain times in depression; some of my best drawings were done when I was deeply grieving. Many poets, artists and writers produce fine work when they are depressed. Working with music in the background can help to get the creative juices flowing.

6. Be there for others.

When depressed and anxious, we tend to think too much about our own problems. When we let this go and look outside of ourselves we see that others have needs too. It becomes clear to us that we can help other people and not spend all of our time focusing on our own problems. Now we have a sense of purpose and belonging — this helps with our self-esteem.

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There is great value in this principal when you are without direction and living with depression.

7. Re-training our thoughts is invaluable.

Replacing negative thoughts with more positive and rational thoughts is invaluable when dealing with depression and anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy applies this principal and many of us have benefited from putting it into practice.

8. Detach from your illness.

For people with depression and anxiety, frequent negative thoughts and feelings are experienced, but we should bear in mind that they are only thoughts and feelings — symptoms of the illness. They are not who we are. We are the person that is literally carrying around these thoughts and feelings. If we can remember who we were before we became ill we can detach from the feelings and try to ignore the thoughts.

9. Don’t react to your thoughts and feelings.

We have little control over the endless flow of negativity that enters our mind all day when we are ill. In CBT, we learn to stop these thoughts and introduce better one. But we can also be careful not to react to them — thereby reducing anxiety and further negative feelings. This allows us to keep control.

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10. We have endless inner strength.

We have as much inner strength as we need to get us through every given situation; we just have to believe it . When we find our courage, we can do anything we want.

Once, I was so ill I thought I was losing my mind. I dug deep down to my soul and found my inner strength. I made it out of that situation because I believed I was strong enough to do it.

11. We are worthy.

People who are depressed and anxious lose sight of how wonderful they really are. They lose all self-confidence and they feel that they are not worthy. On recovery we all realize that those feelings were just part of the illness and nothing more.

12. This was just our turn to be ill.

Everyone gets ill sometime. We each have our turn. Sparing a thought for those who suffer from terminal illnesses — and even mental illnesses worse than our own — can be humbling and help put things into perspective.

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I would have made great use of these lessons had I been given them when I was a teenager. Life doesn’t always work out the way we plan; in fact, it never does. There are always stumbling blocks along the way.

What’s important is that you learn valuable lessons as you go. These lessons will help you prepare for the future.

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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