What’s with the label?
Apparently everything needs a label now. God forbid you have to actually find out something about someone by talking to them or perhaps a little research (Google anyone?). It appears nobody wants to be surprised or learn to love someone's quirkiness or perhaps open a tin and be amazed with the contents. Because without the label who are you really?. What makes you tick, which illness do you have , what disability or “fault” or reason for not being able to do something, can all be defined by the label you’ve given yourself. We all need to know which label we fit in to. Supposedly making it easier for us to find our tribe, the people we fit in with. Google at the moment is profiling my searches to offer me the news it thinks I want to read, labelling me daily in order to give me “the best news experience for me”.(it doesn’t by the way, it just gets really samey and boring and makes me switch off) In marketing you’re asked to niche down and find your “perfect customer” by listing, to the smallest of detail, anything about your ideal client that may be of use in singling out that client. It’s quite exhausting, and if you’re interested I have attempted to do it on several occasions. Resulting in a really not very useful profile of a person, who, I very much doubt, actually exists. I may be wrong about this but I continuously find this the most challenging part about running my brand.
For many years I tried to label my mental illness and find out the exact camp that I sat neatly in. Partly for recognition and validation, partly to find out if it was actually real, and partially to see if the medication I was taking was actually correct for me. At the time I didn't feel like I was getting better and that drove my reason for the exhausting search for answers.
My therapist often questioned my need for all the answers, she often pleaded with me to downplay it or perhaps stop and just be. She was kinda right in her findings, the constant web searches , white paper reading and medical journal scouring was starting to take over my life. It was starting to fuel itself and become the self fulfilling prophecy of my madness. You’ll be surprised how many depressive illnesses all have very similar traits and symptoms. I continued to drug trial most medications that were available all with varying results and benefits, as well as the very much unwanted side effects.
What did I find out about depression?
What I found out was very little, nothing that would help practically in any way that was productive. There were reasons and theories from trials and tests. Long drawn out pieces of writing that never really got to the point or contradicted themself, halfway through. There were books that were insightful, and then threw it all away with a spelling error at the end which meant the whole sentence and therefore the book was meaningless (well in my humble opinion anyway). I chastised myself continuously, beat myself up that I was an enigma and regularly questioned my GPs qualifications. And that’s when it hit me.
Will the tablets help your depression?
I’ve been drug trialling medication since I was 19, All with varying effect. All in the attempt to stop emotion for flooring me and to try and make this square peg fit in the round hole. Are you following? My findings have been this, my understanding of depression has expanded and I now know what works for me. Remember this isn’t a one size fits all and what may work for me might not for you. But in my 20 plus years of medicating myself this is what I’ve noticed.
- When you’re crying your eyes out, unable to get out of bed, or generally care for yourself and the depression has meant you can’t work, earn money and are totally immobile. General medication will get you to a place of functioning, but only for 3 months.
- Once your 3 months are up you either need stronger medication(more side effects) or put in place a strategy to manage your life through talking therapy or simple structures that work for you.
- You’re not broke. Depression is usually an alarm bell that something is not working for you. Something in your life is not affording you the joy it deserves, there’s only one way to sort this. Change it, be it the job, lover, friend, hobby whatever that is change is good.
- You can’t change anything because you’re frightened of the consequences. I get that, lack of money, no home, no one to love you, are all valid reasons to stay put. Then you need to up your joy factors. Find something that used to make you smile. Think about your 5 year old self. What did he/she/they love? Do that!
- Even small changes make a BIG difference. So you can’t ditch the job and the house is pretty much as it is. Then make a cushion, move the sofa, walk a different way to work daily. I found using my down time differently started to weave its magic
- Don’t worry if you can’t do any of the above. There was a time when I was completely stuck. That any of these suggestions made me want to hide even more. Made me question if anyone really understood me. I felt at my absolute lowest but to the outside I was putting on my best smile and exhausting myself even more. If this is you. STOP PRETENDING! This is the time that gentle words of kindness from you to you will really be worth it’s weight in gold. Give yourself permission to stop. Let yourself just be.
- DO NOTHING! Yep if everything above has really not worked then the best thing you can do is nothing. Here’s the thing: your body has a way of getting your attention, if you aren’t listening to the kind worded voice inside your head (the one saying the nasty things that’s not you btw) Your body will do it’s damnedest to stop you in its tracks. And depression is quite good at making you sit still. Once you lean into that you’ll find you’ll feel better a lot sooner.
Will Depression ever end?
This is the fear that most of us have about depression. We think that it defines us, labels us, tars us with the brush. Making you think that you are useless.. Here’s the NEWS FLASH. Depression is not here to stay and it certainly doesn’t make you useless. It’s there to give you the wake up call you need. It’s telling you to stop and sit still for a moment and give yourself some much needed love and attention. Maybe you’ve been running around for everyone else? Maybe you’ve been burning the candle at both ends. Maybe you’ve lost your spark for life. Well depression is the reminder that you can get that back. Depression is the excuse you need to stop and listen to you for a change.
Depression does subside, it's not around forever, when you start to tune into your wants and needs you start to find solace in the fact that you’ve known you, all along. We’re not all the same. We all have different wants, needs and desires. Our fundamental living requirements are the same and that's what often drives us to push through in order to put food on the table, a roof over our head. But when we get caught up in the noise of the world and try and chase along a desire that’s not quite fitting to us, we start to feel out of whack and we start to beat ourselves up for not achieving and that’s when the depression takes hold.
It’s time to dream a new dream.
9 times out of 10 my dreams have come to fruition, they might not have been as elaborate as I had hoped, but I’ve pretty much obtained everything that I’ve ever yearned for. Yeah it might not be that million dollars or the crown on my head but I’m doing OK and when I start to really dissect what it is I really want, I realise I already have it and I notice I’m a pretty simple creature. I found that when I really listened to myself what I really wanted, what I didn't want to do and what I wasn’t willing to risk or change about myself in order to have. I realised I had everything that my heart desired right there in front of my eyes. And when I started to not worry so much about keeping up with the Jones’ I found the pressure came off and my depression and anxiety started to subside.. And when you start to realise that, you really are rich! And when you start to just be, the magic starts to happen and you become ‘wealthier and happier’ as a result. Because the wealth isn’t measured in coins but just by being you. And once you come back to you and what makes you tick, the success just keeps on happening. The one thing you truly learn as you age, is you have everything you need right here. The wealth is the strength to ask for help, the knowledge you gain over time and the boldness to live the life you’ve always wanted.
So why not listen to the depression, take a seat and stop for a moment and start to love yourself for everything that you are right now. Ditch the label and start to feel surprised about what you might find. Dream a little differently and start to see wonder in everything that you do. Love yourself even on the dark days because that’s your bodies way of just re-tuning in to you