How I am taking my mind back from the scars of depression
“Can’t quiet figure out why my depression is back. So black… the numbness feels unending and dark. Even the spring sun cannot penetrate the cement cold and hardness of it.”
I wrote those words three weeks ago. My depression came back for a little visit. Thankfully, he did not stay long.
Later I wrote in my journal, “The mood has lifted a little – but I can feel it lurking. I so dread the power it seems to have over me. The medications can’t touch this shit.”
In a twisted way, it is almost as if the depression gives fuel to our anxiety, in that we now have to invest part of our mental real estate with a dread that the depression will return. If we are not depressed, we are then anxious we will become depressed.
Moods have power
I have thought about this a lot: Why is it that moods pose such power over us?
After I began thinking clearer, I remembered the concept of Lateral Thinking. Lateral Thinking is a concept developed by Edward DeBono and is a strategy used to develop more creativity in your work, in your thinking and in how you approach problems.
In essence, rather than getting stuck, you come at a situation from a different angle and this can help to create different thinking. This one realization seems to create a subtle and important shift to my mind: a different way of thinking is possible, you just have to move a little.
Changing your mind is not simple, it takes work. Lateral thinking is not just for work or business. I think that if you are working on changing your thoughts, maybe it’s time to try it out.
Yesterday I felt anxious all day. 8.5 out of 10. Thoughts assaulted, critical reminders of mistakes. The anxiety persisted until I changed my mind. I wrote out all of my anxieties and took stock of it all that that seemed to help. Then I got up and did some things.
Our questions have the power to change our minds, and a changed mind can change your life.
The four steps of lateral thinking adapted to depression:
I’m only offering this because it helps me. I am not a doctor and I am not your counsellor. If you need help, please talk to your family or to a professional who can support you. The questions below help me when I am in a cycle of depression or anxiety. It works best if I write my answers down.
1.What are the dominant polarizing ideas that you have?
- When I am depressed, I often experience self-critical thoughts, that I am incapable or that other people think I am incapable.
- Whatever it might be for you, I encourage you to write it down. Take it one negative idea at a time and work through the questions.
2.Can you acknowledge there different ways to think, not one way?
- Just knowing that there are different ways to view your situation can begin to shed some warmth on an otherwise frozen mind.
- Then search for an alternative. There is no one right way to think, just different ways.
- Don’t fall for the trap that you “must” change your mind. Gently introducing another thought usually works better.
Thinking gently will change your mind, relax your chest, change your breathing and calm your nerves. It begins by being conscious and allowing yourself the grace that can only come to someone who is in the ring every day.
3.Can you take a breath? Take a breath. Relax for a minute. Close your eyes if you need. How you are thinking has a strong influence on your emotions, your mood.
- If we are think rigidly, it will be very difficult to change our mind because our defenses are up. Taking a breath is giving yourself permission to have needs, permission to take a moment for yourself.
4.Can you be open to chance, new experiences and surprise?
- Depression and anxiety are rigid, narrow ways of thinking. You begin to see only what you want to see. Lateral thinking can change this and make you ready to see each day, to see other people and to see yourself more openly.
- For me, I become more grateful for little things. This is a huge change because gratefulness is a form of mindfulness, being more in the moment. I begin to appreciate the quiet start to the day, the warmth of the sun, the kindness of my coworkers, love from my family and all of the things that I get from doing work that matters.
Depression and anxiety are like ghosts that live inside of you. They will never completely leave you, but you can change your mind. And when you change your mind, you can change your life.
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Photo by Samuel Hern