Depression: Three Steps to Healing

by Neseret on December 10, 2011

Pink Rose ClusterDepression affects all aspects of your life – your thoughts, your emotions, your actions, your physical functioning and overall health. All of these aspects of your self are interconnected.

The good news is when you make a positive change in one aspect of your life it will impact all others.

I believe the best approach to heal from depression is a holistic approach. Holistic approach takes in to consideration and addresses every aspect of your life – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Often treatment for depression is focused on one or two things – mainly medication and therapy. These can be effective in the short term however to maintain your health and wellness long term requires a lifestyle change approach.

In my experience healing from depression involved making major changes in many areas of my life. First I came to the realization I had to make my health a priority. I saw the negative spiraling effect of not feeling good. Depression affected my relationship, work and my enjoyment of life in general.

What I am about to share with you is what has helped me overcome depression. It may or may not work for you, however I know when you’ve had enough you’re willing try anything. One of the first steps in the journey of healing is to open our hearts and minds. Healing also requires a level of committment to taking action to create change.

Step 1: Nurture Your Body – Reduce Stress

I know the last thing you want to do when you’re depressed is love and nurture yourself. Often when people are depressed they stop doing the things they enjoy and stop taking care of themselves. This starts out as a way of coping with lack of energy and  overwhelming feelings and it may seem comforting, however in the long run it makes you feel worse.

Inactivity, isolation and self neglect will only worsen depression .

In the beginning it will be extremely challenging to break this cycle. You may have to really push yourself. Personally I made a decision to start eating well, exercising and re-engaging in activities I enjoyed. I remember thinking “I don’t have the energy to exercise. I don’t have the energy to cook healthy meals. I don’t have the energy to focus on the things I enjoy.”

The smallest of steps took every ounce of energy I had.

What happened overtime is I started to notice small improvements. I had more energy and I was feeling better. It also became a little easier each and every day to continue doing the things that were working. Wherever you are right now know you can feel better. I understand when you are in the mist of depression it may seem like there is no light at the end of the tunnel but healing is possible for you.

Change is not easy but it is worth it.

During this time one major change I made that has had a huge positive effect on my health was I stopped working shift work. Consistent schedule and getting adequate regular sleep is essential to your health. Sleep and mood have a cause and effect relationship. If you’re not getting enough sleep it will certainly affect your mood and changes in your mood will often affect your sleep. It is essential to give your body the rest it needs.

Step 2: Nurture Your Mind – Change Your Thinking Habits

Each of us have a tendency to one extent or another to think negatively about ourselves, and our life situation. Depression is often associated with persistent negative thinking. Depression can cause negative thinking and negative thinking will help maintain depression.

Sometimes negative life experiences especially in early childhood can cause to have a lifelong tendency to focus on the negative. Of course we are each unique in our temperaments and so this doesn’t always happen in every case. However the way we view ourselves and

our life is greatly influenced by our experiences – both positive and negative.

When we are depressed we see ourselves very negatively. We judge ourselves harshly and hardly remember anything good about ourselves. If you come from an environment where you were treated critically and not shown a whole lot of love this is very easy to do to yourself.

When people are depressed they also view their life situation negatively. You tend to focus on what you don’t have in your life. You compare yourself to others and believe others have it much better.

You generally fail to see all the positive things you have in your life.

For me changing this aspect of my self was one of the most challenging part of my journey of healing. I had very low self esteem and self worth. I believe my depression started shortly after my father died when I was 4 years old and continued on with the verbal and physical abuse from my mother.

Looking back I realize those early painful experiences shaped the way I saw myself. It took so many years to let go fo the shame, and the hurt. Changing my thinking habits involved emersing myself in self help and inspirational books. Then I went to nursing school and started learning about human psychology and that helped greatly.

The biggest shift in my thinking began to occur when I started learning mindfulness teachings. One of the first books I read on mindfulness was Eckhart Tolle’s brilliant book The Power of Now. I also read A New Earth and attended Oprah’s teleseminars.

What I learned through mindfulness is really to pay attention to what goes through my mind.

I also learned to not take every single thought that runs through my mind so seriously. I learned to challenge my negative and distorted thoughts and beliefs. Paying close attention to your thoughts requires a lot of energy. Challenging your negative thoughts involves deliberately evaluating and changing your thoughts.

In this respect one thing I would highly recommend is learning about affirmations as a great tool to change your thinking. A wonderful book that will teach you all about affirmations is You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay. Changing your thinking is going to be a process. Be patient with yourself.

Step 3: Nurture Your Spirit – Be Spiritually Connected

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. ~ Teilhard de Chardin

Somewhere along my journey of healing I came across the idea that all disease (dis-ease) is caused by spiritual disconnection. You may or may not agree with this idea and that is o.k. However I believe in the least this is an idea worth reflecting on and exploring.

Spirituality means different things to different people. What makes a difference in people’s lives is the feeling of being connected to something greater than themselves.

What makes you feel spiritually connected?

What makes you feel at peace? What makes you feel alive? What brings peace and joy to your heart? What makes you feel loved? What inspires and uplifts your soul? The secret to being spiritually connected is to dwell on those things. It is to focus on the things that makes you feel GOOD.

Your life is supposed to feel good to you, and you are meant to satisfy your dreams.

~ Ester and Jerry Hicks, from Getting in to the Vortex ~

Personally I have found increasing inner peace through mindfulness practises – mainly meditation (formal: sitting down and meditating/paying attention/being present for a certain period of time,  informal: being mindful/present in everyday activities ) and practising yoga. I have found it helpful to connect with others with similar values and interests.

Another aspect of my life that helps me to feel spiritually connected is my work. I believe doing what you love is a spiritual practise on its own. Finding your passion and feeding your passion is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and the world.

You are most powerful when you are doing the things you’re passionate about and love.

I enjoy helping people as a mental health and addictions nurse/case manager and as a mental health coach. I also enjoy writing on this blog. I believe I can help others through sharing my knowledge and experiences. I’m truly grateful for the many blessings I have in my life.

Please take a moment to share with me what has helped you cope and overcome depression. If you found this article helpful pass it foward. Share it on Facebook or Twitter. I thank you for taking the time to visit with me here today. Wishing you many blessings.

Peace, Love & Gratitude,

Neseret

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kat December 10, 2011 at 8:03 pm

I think the biggest thing that has helped me cope is to realize that I am not perfect, that I am not my illness and that I AM OK just the way I am. I try to let things that are too big flow off me, and to deal with them as I can, not neccessarily when they crop up. I meditate and just let go of the negativity of my life, and try to find the happy in everything I do. I have a new life, I moved from Canada to England 3 years ago, married my soul mate and now spend more time making sure he is ok then how Im feeling. So its all been a very wonderful few years. However, all that being said, without my medication, I am not well, and Im afraid I will never be off it.

Thank you for this wonderful blog, its new things to put into play to see where they take me!!

Reply

Neseret December 10, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Hi Kat,

Giving ourselves permission to be human is a huge step in the journey of healing. So many people struggle for years just to get to that point. You’ve gone past that to knowing and understanding who you truly are. Absolutely you are much more than your illness and yes you are beautiful just the way you are! Inner peace comes from accepting ourselves for the magnificent beings that we are.

It sounds like you’re applying many mindfulness teachings in your life – surrendering, being present, and letting go of negativity. You’ve obviously found your path to healing. It takes a lot of courage to be in this path. Your partner is blessed to find someone who is doing the real work of love – self acceptance and self love. Until we accept and love ourselves for who we are, we are limited in the amount of love we can give another.

As far as being on medication, sometimes it is necessary for people to be on medication long term. That said I feel so many people are either over medicated or on medication when they can cope well on their own. For others medication maybe part of the treatment plan for maintaining their ongoing health and well being. That is o.k. Everyone is different and you have to do what works for you.

Thank you for sharing your experience here. Welcome! Look forward to learning more about you. How are you liking living in England? What prompted your move? Wishing you many blessings.

Peace, Love & Gratitude,

Neseret

Reply

TAMMY KEVWITCH December 11, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Hello again Neseret,

I read your whole post and I can see that our childhoods were similar only I had both my father and mother and my dad was the primary abuser.

Like you, it was discovering mindfulness and practicing it for more than three years that helped me heal the most. PTSD groups, 12-step and other recovery models are themselves a form of mindfulness if you think about it. DBT really taught me the most about mindfulness.

I loved your blog. It was so well thought out and written.

Thanks,
Tammy

Reply

Neseret December 11, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Hi Tammy,

Glad you enjoyed this post. I agree with you that various supportive groups can be very helpful in assisting people become more aware and mindful in their journey of recovery.

I am familiar with Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). It is an excellent model especially for treatment of addiction, personality disorders, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I am currently co-facilitating a day treatment program and as part of the curriculum I teach Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention.

We also teach grounding techniques but not as part of DBT treatment. I believe mindfulness teachings and practises are so simple and can help many people.

That said you need to have an open mind and be ready. Obviously you have those qualities else you wouldn’t have benefited greatly.

Wishing you many blessings. Peace, Love & Gratitude,

Neseret

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