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How Does It Feel To Have Depression? And How Can You Overcome It?

How Does It Feel To Have Depression? And How Can You Overcome It?

I’ve never personally suffered from depression, but my sister suffered from it for years and still today struggles with anger, frustration and lack of self-belief in anything she does. I chose to write this article to get a better understanding of this mental health issue, I guess you could call it, and to help those who have never experienced it first- or secondhand to begin to understand what it’s like and hopefully help someone some day in the future. I have also focused on the words of those who have suffered or are suffering from depression, rather than present my interpretations of their experiences.

I genuinely hope that after reading this and the other articles mentioned you will understand what it’s like to have depression, and also understand not only how difficult it is to live with, but to overcome as well.

What is it actually like to live with depression?

Here’s a list of descriptions or symptoms from those I know who have suffered from depression, from those currently suffering from it and some from my own research. A number of these quotes were taken from a Huffington Post article by Danny Baker, see the full article and more quotes here:

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1. Concentration is difficult. It’s hard to focus, remember or make decisions.
2. Change in sleep – either too much or not enough.
3. Don’t want to nor enjoy eating. A complete loss of appetite.
4. A feeling like you can’t do anything right.
5. Can’t see a future ahead and there are no solutions to any problems you have.
6. You just don’t enjoy life – it’s an effort to smile.
7. Don’t feel like you exist properly in the world. Have a feeling of separation.
8. Constantly feeling like you’re drowning.
9. Can sometimes feel like your mind is replaced by another that makes you feel numb and worthless.
10. A loss of who you are.
11. It drains all the energy from you … you feel like you can’t do anything.
12. Nothing feels, tastes or smells right.
13. Feeling and believing that you just don’t matter.
14. Loss of desire to live your life.
15. Combination of negative emotions: fear, despair, shame, numbness, worthlessness and sometimes guilt.
16. It’s like having tunnel vision. You can only see the bad, overwhelmed with negativity with no reason why.
17. “Cancer of the soul.”
18. Living in a constant fog-like state.
19. The feeling of being completely alone while surrounded by people.
20. Sleep feels like your only escape.
21. Feeling like your mind is paralyzed – numb.
22. It’s like silence – isolation in a room full of people you know.
23. Like being trapped in darkness.
24. Depression can sometimes be a voice in your head that can talk, shout, taunt and chant negative words and phrases at you, trying to convince you that you’re not good enough.
25. Like having everything that was ever good in your life stripped from you.
26. “Depression is a thief – it takes everything and leaves you to die.”
27. Feeling separated from yourself, like watching yourself from the outside.
28. Depression is genuine self-hate with no reason why.
29. Feeling like every morning you’d wished you’d died in your sleep.
30. Like treading water with no energy – a constant battle to keep afloat.

How can depression be treated or overcome?

It goes without saying that living with depression is extremely hard, but overcoming it is even more difficult. There are countless forms of drugs that can be prescribed to someone suffering from depression; even those with anxiety disorders are given forms of antidepressants. Medication is sometimes a way forward for some individuals, but many prefer to first try natural remedies. These have proven to work wonders for people and are without a doubt worth trying. Check out this article written by someone who has overcome depression using natural remedies.

Here are just a few natural remedies to give you an idea of what is available, but obviously, make any treatment decisions in consultation with a medical professional:

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1. Routine
Depression can make it hard to do anything. Days, weeks and months can roll into one another. Establishing a routine, no matter how small, can help get you back on track and build up your days again.

2. Goal setting
Being able to accomplish or even imagine accomplishing something is extremely difficult, but in order to have self-belief again you need to be able to see your progress. Start off small – and I mean small! Something like sitting down for a few minutes in your garden with a cup of tea, reading a page or two of a book, or even just setting a goal to wash the dishes twice a week.

3. Eat right
There’s a saying, “When you eat good, you feel good,” and trust me it’s 100% true. While eating a specific diet won’t fix depression completely, it can have a huge impact and is a good place to start. Treat your body right, give it the right foods and it will reward you. Again, focus on making small changes; don’t try too much too soon. Take it one step at a time.

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4. Exercise
It’s often been said that exercise is one of the best free antidepressants out there! Exercise releases endorphins (those feel-good chemicals). A 20-minute walk can have an incredible effect on brain activity and can help change the perspective you have on yourself and what’s around you. It may not be something you want to do, but it is definitely something you need to do. Force yourself to give it a try – make sure it’s something you like doing though!

5. Sleep
Getting into a routine, exercising and eating right should naturally help your quality of sleep. Try waking up and going to sleep at the same time so your body gets used to the time it’s meant to sleep. Avoid using electronics at night, like your phone, tablet, computer or TV. Try to only associate your bed with sleeping and make it a relaxing place for you to go each night.

6. Get enough vitamin D
By that I don’t mean take supplements, I mean the sun. Due to our lifestyles we don’t spend half as much time outside as we should. Simply being outdoors can help boost your overall mood. So try it! Go outside, relax, take a deep breath and just appreciate the outdoors.

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7. Try to find something you enjoy
I understand that this would require a lot of energy that you may feel you don’t have and you may feel as if there isn’t anything that you’d enjoy, but you just have to keep trying.

8. Try meditation
This practice can work wonders. It will help reduce your stress levels and help stop negative thinking. It’ll change your mind and in turn change your life.

9. Avoid alcohol
Unfortunately, this is a road many take to cope with depression. The problem is that alcohol is a depressant and it will, in time, cause more long-term harm than good. Try to avoid this as much as you can, if not completely!

10. Ask for help
There is no shame in asking for help in any situation. There are many people who have experienced and are currently experiencing depression that are out there to help. There are plenty of outlets you can turn to: family, friends, doctors, help lines, support groups, the list goes on.

The step that you need to take before any of these is making that decision to help yourself. It may look and feel like an impossibility, but trust me when I say you’re strong enough to beat it and you don’t have to do it alone.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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