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Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Winter Blues: Recognizing Depression & Despair In Your Life

I hope this piece on depression and how it impacts us all will help create more open dialogues about what it really looks like.  I have ongoing battles with depression myself and I can tell you it's a slippery slope once you start isolating yourself.  If you take away nothing else from this article, please remember: lean on your loved ones and don't shut them out!

If you have a pulse and have lived beyond the care free innocent years (for our purposes, we'll say the age of eleven or so), chances are you've lived long enough to experience what I call the Winter Blues.  It's that time that always seems to start somewhere before or after Christmas..  or right after the new year comes in.

Source: (Not exactly rocket science.)
I guess it's something about the cold weather and spending more time indoors (unless you're a member of the Polar Bear Club, officially or not)..  Spending lots of hard-earned money on gifts meant to spread goodwill can also be part of it.  Then there's the worries of the coming new year and all that jazz...

The symptoms are simple: you feel uninspired or unmotivated (in geek terms, your feelings can be expressed as "blah" or "meh").  The slightest things can make you want to mope around, cry, or just stay in bed.  Most won't want to admit it in public but I've been there plenty of times.  Heck, as great as 2011 was for my business efforts, spirituality, and personal development, I must say other areas left a bit to be desired...

But, hey, that's life...  Just deal with it, right?

Getting a bit more intimate with the adversity I have encountered, the end of 2011 saw many great things on the horizon and a boom in business, off-set by heart break, family drama, health issues, and other not-so-fun things for me.  But, as bad as it got in the final stretch of 2011, I saw some of my close friends and colleagues take on even greater adversity.  I can't tell you how many people I know just reached out to say hello..  but there was a deeper message.

For some, the outreach becomes a desperate cry for help..  or simple despair.  Of course, popular opinion would have us believe that no one gets bummed out around the holidays and certainly not at the beginning of the new year.

If you've really been down in the dumps, you know otherwise..  Sometimes all the merriment around you just makes you more annoyed or depressed.

All around us, there are people suffering from these elusive Winter blues..  You may not know it but there's that feeling of being weighed down by issues you can't quite put your finger on.  It's a lack of satisfaction..  a longing for more..  a need for change when nothing seems to give.

Perhaps you are trying hard to look forward to better days but all you see is darkness or nothingness...

Source:  (You can do it yourself, but you don't have to do it alone.)

I've toiled with this concept for over a month now but the right words still escape me.  I can only say that, if any of this sounds vaguely familiar, you are not alone.  Here is what I've found and I hope it encourages you, as we know encouragement often lacks in today's negativity-plagued world...

Before anything, I will reiterate that you are not alone..  And don't isolate yourself, either, because we can draw strength from others when we lack it ourselves.

Christmas Could Have Been More
It's all too easy to get stuck in the trap of feeling that Christmas (or your holiday of preference) is all about the quality of gifts given and/or received..  But what about the spirit of the season?  I think we all forget what it really means.  We rediscover and reinforce old bonds, finding new ways to express our love, appreciation, and gratitude..  or that is how it should be.

Alas, I see so many people, especially parents, throwing money at problems.  They figure really great gifts can make up for lack of warmth or mistakes made, yet they forget that love is the most wonderful gift and it is free (well, monetarily speaking, of course).  Even the coolest gifts will do little to strengthen bonds if the warmth and connections are not there.

What I have also seen is that we often get into a silly competition, whereas we feel our gifts must exceed everyone else's.  That is how people spend their very last dime, just to one-up each other.  But what does that really do for us?

Instead of worrying about the things or money you lack, think about the blessings you have now and how you can share those things with others.  Think about the things you can enjoy today..  for free!

This Is Where I Was Last Year
Oh the sorrows of another year with little gained..  or much lost!
That feeling of inertia in life can be daunting indeed yet it goes back to these material and superficial wants that overshadow the needs of our hearts, souls, and minds.  Quite simply, we spend so much time looking at our pasts that our futures end up looking the same or worse.

Really, are things so bad right now?  I bet you can think of times you were much worse off.  You may also find that the so-called "good old days" are all nostalgic spin.

You can't change the past and regret is really tough to wrestle.  Why not use all that energy to set good things in motion going forward?  Besides, inventing a functional time machine may take much more than your life time, no matter how brilliant you may be!

Nothing Really Matters
You went to school, got your certifications, networked with all the right people, said all the right things..  but you still end up in the same place.  You do onto others as you would like done onto you.  You're kind, generous, considerate..  all that good stuff..  yet you're still abandoned and betrayed.

It seems like nothing you do really matters.  You're a victim to circumstance.  Why even bother trying??

Oh BOY is that a dangerous line of thought and, believe me, I have been there before!  Adversity will strike and, yes, some do get it easier than others but that does that not mean they have it better than us.  Having a victim mentality only keeps us from releasing the junk in our lives and being the best we can be.

Take control.  Realize that we don't know what others will do or go through, nor can we control others.  We can control our thoughts and what we fill our cups with.  If you fill yourself with good things, good things will come..  But it doesn't always happen when we expect it so be patient.  Believe me, it will get better!

Empty your cup and get rid of the junk that does nothing for you but bog you down.  Fill your cup with good things and realize the awesome stuff that you have to offer.  You have accomplished much and you will be even better and do more good if you believe it with unrelenting faith.
YOU are awesome! 

I Am So Alone
Loneliness is a tough one.  We often make the mistake of surrounding ourselves with many people and thinking that will dispel the feeling of loneliness but what it really takes to avoid that terrible feeling is surrounding ourselves with good people.

Relationships of any kind are always tough and there is no amount of science or logic that can make it easier.  The one thing I can say for certain is that we should hold on to relationships that are mutually beneficial but realize that the reciprocation will not ever be 50/50.  That said, avoid toxic relationships with people that are negative, love drama, or selfish.
Whoever first said "misery loves company" needs to be given a monument already!

Sometimes, we're too worried about being validated by the wrong people, yet the people that really care have accepted us just the way we are.

So what do we do to get out of this rut?

I don't have a magic solution or a pithy quote to magically fix it all.  The truth is that hurt takes a while to heal and depressiin is even tougher to deal with.

What I can offer in addition to the other tips we have shared here is this: spend more time around and interacting with positive people.  Pity parties don't fix anything, they just get you more stuck, drowning you in your pain.

It's taken me weeks to find the words that would touch you the most..  That's quite the feat since I am never at a loss for words.  I hope I have succeeded in giving the gift of hope and love.  You matter.

I faced my storms recently and things are better than ever.  I believe we're each on the brink of a major break-through but, sadly, we may give up before our time comes.  It seems my fellow blogger, Bonnie67, is thinking about the same things..  Go visit Bonnie's blog and share some love!

Bonnie67 needs your love!

#fosteringhope *

* Great reading plan on YouVersion (available for iPad, iPhone, Android, and web).