Depression can be an opportunity
As is the case with many of the challenges we face in life, depression, however painful, can be used in a positive way.
This is less plausible with long term, clinical depression where serious harm is being done, but for the less debilitating forms that are more common, depression can be a way to gain insight or recharge the batteries when we're failing to do so in our regular life.
As humans, we naturally are quick to immediately start looking for ways to avoid pain and fight depression. But the origins, causes and purpose of depression are not well understood. For all we know, it's a way for a part of us to impose a state of mind that gives us no choice but to shut down or think about things we're avoiding.
But something I learned from a 20 year battle with depression is that you can't always "fight" it! Depression can sometimes be like the ocean- you have to swim with it and simply survive, focusing not on how hard things are, but how much stronger we'll be for the experience.
A natural part of life?
Again, there is far from consensus on the origins and causes of depression. Regardless, let's face facts- many of us can get to a point in life where we have every reason to be "depressed"! Is it not plausible that our subconscious minds are screaming at us to make changes by causing us to be in this painfully reflective and muted state?
Even if this is untrue, I believe it is a helpful belief to hold on to in the face of depression- the idea that there is a greater purpose and potential benefit can provide some solace when you're in a bad place.
Try and think about this depressive state as a natural, normal part of your life that is happening for a reason:
- A chance to reflect on our life in a way we refuse to do so normally. So many of us are living in contrast to our values, hopes and dreams. For some of us, this may be the only way we can really examine if we're really living how we want to. Pay attention to what your mind is saying.
- I think it's safe to say almost all of us have lost our appreciation for how lucky we are. In every economic class we're living better than we ever have before and our expectations can get out of control. Coming out of a depression can be such a relief that we regain appreciation for the simple joys of life.
- A time to rest, when so many people obsessed with success and money refuse to do so. Grinding through depression when your body is screaming at you to stop doing so much is a recipe for trouble. Sometimes you need to just tread water for a bit and recharge the batteries.
- A challenge, when sometimes we might actually lacking true challenges in our lives. Depression is going to try and push you around and if you want to have a good life, life is going to try and push you around even more! Try and think of depression as sparring in preparation for the what life is going to throw at you.
As usual, attitude is everything
I'm well aware that some of this stuff sounds like nonsense when you're really in the grips of depression, nor do I think these are surefire ways to breeze through a bad stretch. But in reality, this is like a lot of things in life- they suck, period. What choice do we have but to make some attempt to learn something or come out stronger on the other side?
Make an attitude adjustment. Depression is not always a reason to panic. Try and look at things as if you're simply observing this depression happening to yourself, shrugging your shoulders as if it's normal. In the same way lifting weights can make you stronger by tearing and damaging muscles, depression can do the same thing for your mind.
The alternative is to start beating yourself up about being depressed in the first place, just inflaming things even further. Tread water for a while, observe, listen and you'll often be stronger for it!
Feel great again with Cooper Health Coaching!
Cooper Health Coaching is a personal training and health coaching service located in Vancouver, B.C. providing in-person and online coaching for clients locally and across North America. Founder Geoff Cooper is certified as both a Health Coach and Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise (ACE).