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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 February 19, 2020

15 Positive Thinking Books You Need for a Happy Life

15 Positive Thinking Books You Need for a Happy Life

Books give us the opportunity to live vicariously through the lives of people with greater wisdom than ourselves. They stimulate our brains and help us not only solve the problems we struggle with, but also motivate and inspire us with new ideas.

One of the great things about people who think positively and live happy lives is that they love to help others do the same. There are countless positive-thinking books and these 15 are a great way to help you start living a happy life.

1. Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor E. Frankl

mans search for meaning

    This book goes through the horrific struggle of Viktor Frankl who survived holocaust concentration camps. The only thing that kept him going was his idea that everything, even the worst of human suffering, had to have meaning. If you’re struggling through anything in your life, I guarantee the words of Viktor will give you courage to press on and find happiness.

    2. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

    tuesday with morrie

       

      What is life’s greatest lesson? Morrie, a retired professor with a fatal disease, opts to use his predicament to share that message as opposed to just giving up and dying. Following the last few months of Morrie’s life will help you realize what is truly important in life.

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      3. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

      Lecture_Book

        Similar to Tuesdays with Morrie, Randy is a college professor who finds he has a fatal disease with only a few months to live. It is customary for professors at his university (Carnegie Mellon) to give a final lecture with the basis of ‘what wisdom would you impart to a large group of people if it was your last chance?’ Randy stays incredibly positive throughout and even keeps the lecture humorous and entertaining. Amidst it all, his wisdom is a powerful reminder about how to live a happy, full life.

        4. Earning Freedom by Michael Santos

        earning freedom

          Michael Santos was sentenced to 45 years is prison for selling drugs. During his term he fought hard to earn a masters degree and half of a doctorate (halted by the warden) while writing numerous books educating students about the criminal justice system. This book provides a fascinating window into his entire sentence (released in 2012) and how a positive attitude and strong work ethic got him through it. If he found happiness in prison through positive thinking, we can do it anywhere.

          If you don’t have the attention span to finish a long book, the following quick reads are shorter but just as powerful.

          5. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

          little engine that could

            This book has shaped childrens’ minds for years. It illustrates the undeniable fact that when you think positively and believe in yourself, you can accomplish extraordinary things.

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            6. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

            The_Giving_Tree

              Happiness is found in giving. What does it mean to love someone? What would you sacrifice for someone you love? This children’s book teaches a valuable lesson about unconditional love and what it truly means to be happy.

              7. The Dash by Linda Ellis and Mac Anderson

              the dash

                “When your life is over, everything you did will be represented by a single dash between two dates—what will that dash mean for the people you have known and loved?” (Linda Ellis) We don’t choose a lot of things about our life – parents, birthplace, etc. – but we can choose what that dash between those two dates means. This short book will give you a great perspective on making your life worthwhile.

                8. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

                As-a-Man-Thinketh

                  “The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state… Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.” (James Allen) This book might be short, but it is jam-packed with statements that will make you stop and think. We truly become what we think we are. Negative thoughts affect us more than we know. Positive thinking = happy life.

                  9. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald  Miller

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                  a-million-miles-in-a-thousand-years

                    You are the author of your story. No matter how boring or dull your life has been, you can always turn it around. Donald was in a rut in his life. He had no desire to get out of bed and found himself questioning the meaning of life. Eventually he realized he wasn’t a slave to a pre-written script. He used that mindset to turn around his thoughts, actions, and life. When the closing credits roll on the story of your life, what will people say? Never forget that you have the power to push your limits and live an interesting, happy life.

                    10. The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews

                    travelersgift

                      The Traveler’s Gift is a fictional story about a man who is overwhelmed with life and finds himself thrown into numerous true events from history – including Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. He interacts and learns important life lessons from seven different experiences. The book is full of ways to think more positively and find more success in life.

                      11. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

                      david and goliath

                        Malcolm Gladwell motivates you to challenge your preconceptions of underdogs and misfits in this thought-provoking book. When you break down the facts in the story of David and Goliath from the Bible, you find that David really wasn’t an underdog at all – he was the one with the advantage. This book outlines story after story after story of people who were at a disadvantage and learned to find the strength in their weakness.

                        12. How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton M. Christensen

                        how will you measure

                          How would you feel if you got to the end of your life only to realize you had been measuring success wrong? Clayton provides a mass amount of wisdom and advice on how to live a life you won’t regret.

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                          13. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson

                          Dont_Sweat_Small_Stuff

                            The small things we worry about every day may not seem like a big deal, but they wear us down slowly and stop us from living up to our full potential. Learn how to get rid of those worries and negative thoughts and live a happier life.

                            14. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

                            mere christianity

                              C.S. Lewis, who used to be an Atheist, explains how he came to find meaning in life through Christianity. He breaks down all the reasons we doubt and falter in life and how living the principles of Christianity fixes our weaknesses. Lewis is famous for his deep, thought-provoking quotes and this book is no exception.

                              15. Bushido: The Way of the Samurai by Tsunetomo Yamamoto

                              bushido

                                Bushido is based on the Hagakure, a document that served as the basis for samurai warrior behavior. The document’s purpose was to shape the mind and the spirit of the samurai warrior.

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                                Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

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