The sun hangs so impossibly in the sky with hope,
She only dreams of a moment where she allows it to beat down on her.
From crisp morning, till dull afternoon,
She only dreams of a moment where she truly knows the consciousness of its clement rays soaking into her soul.
When the sun rises again, hanging there so impossibly,
She finally discerns its only trying to saturate her soul with sensational spirit.
This is a poem that I wrote, whilst battling with depression and anxiety. It highlights the want of others, especially loved ones, wishing to embrace and celebrate me. However,thoughts and feelings of unworthiness sometimeslead me to push these people away, intensifying my depression.
Depression is a mental health condition that causes people to experience low mood and great sadness for prolonged periods of time. With this may come a loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, as well as decreased energy, appetite, and levels of concentration.Many people experience these feelings at some point in their life and it can happen if you’ve experienced loss, trauma, or have had life changes. Additionally, depression can be experienced independent of any apparent event. There are various ways that people deal with depression, which stem from our thinking patterns/stylesand thoughts.
Thoughts are positive or negative mental cognitions, that uphold our opinions and beliefs about ourselves and our surroundings. They include perspectives and experiences that can either have constructive or destructive capabilities over our feelings and behaviours.It could be as simple as hearing a negative opinion about yourself from others, by which you begin to be believe. For example, you may overhear someone saying that you are fat, and you may quickly come to the conclusive thought; “If she thinks that I am fat, then that must be the case”. As a result, feelings of despair, hopelessness, and self-doubt flow from these powerful thoughts.
With this is mind, let us look at the relationship between depression and our thoughts. It could be presumed that if a negative thought springs into mind, such as“I am so dumb”, you would think that this is a result of depression. However, it is negative thoughts that nurtures and fosters depression. This can be described as the cycle of negative thinking. The cycle looks like this:
Referring back to my poem, 1) I had the negative thought that I was unworthy of my familyand my mothers’ embrace. 2) This made me feel extremely sad, 3) leaving my mind, and body with no energy. 4) I decided to withdraw and isolate myself. This cycle of negative thinking deepened my depression.
As mentioned earlier, negative thoughts and behaviour intensifies depression, however, sometimes we find comfort in these mental constructions and actions. For example, once you have avoided a situation, person or event that may bring about anxiety or worsen your depression, you may find comfort, or find it easier to continue avoiding it.
So, how do we break this negative cycle? As humans we generate thoughts automatically, however, we are not alwaysconscious that we actually hold the power to control and command them. Hence, one of the most powerful actions to breaking this cycle is becoming aware of the negative thoughts that either maintain or intensify depression. We must actively challenge, disprove and change them.
Firstly, acknowledge and increase awareness of your thoughts. Pay attention to the internal dialogue that you may be having with yourself and note how this dialogue makes you feel. It may be helpful to write down these negative thoughts and feelings at the end of theday or tally chart every time they occur. Once you have identified these thoughts, you can decide and direct what you want your change to look like.
Negative thoughts often hold foundational ground in our belief systems and mindsets, by which exist without ever being questioned. Therefore, it is important to challenge these thoughts, disprove and dismantle them.If you notice a pattern of negative thoughts occurring throughout the day,for example, “I have never been successful, and never will be”,find evidence to support that this thought has no basis within reality. If you cannot find any evidence to disprove this, you must seek learning opportunities, so that this becomes possible.
Confronting and questioning yourself in order to achieve positive self-development, is not the easiest, but it must be done. It will help to clarify that our negative thoughts are sometimes untrue.Lastly, try and increase your physical activity. Regular exercise can help to regulate your emotions, improve your coping ability and self-esteem, and may serve as an outlet to distract you from negative thoughts and provide opportunities to try new experiences. This may aid in dismantling the negative cycle of thoughts.When a depressed person feels better due to a positive change in thoughts, this is known as the placebo effect. When there is an improvement in thinking, there is an improvement in wellbeing
To end, there are many ways that people deal and cope with their depression: therapy, exercising, trying new experiences, turning to friends and family or to religion. However, you must actively seek and find what is right for you.
Actions for today:
- Write down a set of affirmations, achievements, or what you are grateful for on flashcards. Look at these when you are feeling sad, down, or exhausted.
Finally, to anyone reading this-
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. For the Lord, your God will be with you wherever you go” Joshua 1:9