Dealing with Depression

Dealing With Depression
By Ashleigh James

Recently I’ve not felt myself. Some days I’ve struggled to get out of bed and others I’ve felt so alive that my body vibrates with energy. Up and down on an emotional roller coaster that I couldn’t seem to get off… I’ve been depressed.

I am, however very aware of what is going on. This self awareness is a blessing. It allows me to step back from the pain and witness what I am doing to myself.

I have been trapped in the negativity and self doubt. Finding out that starting your own business (no matter how passionate you are about it) isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I was stuck listening to the ‘what if’s and you can’t’s whirling around my head. It’s destructive and I don’t want to live there.

Instead, I’ve been letting myself experience it while being mindful of my thoughts. That way I actually get to deal with the issue at hand without ignoring it or being too hard on myself.

This means that the girl who loved social events and being around people… would actually rather sit on her own and read. The girl who worked out religiously… struggled to muster the energy to get from behind her laptop. The girl who was usually quick to lend a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on… could only focus on her own needs.

Being an extrovert, this was a strange and new experience for me.

I’ve discovered that this means sometimes I don’t want to be around people or, I suddenly crave someone’s company. Please don’t take it personally. Everything I’m doing is in the best interest of myself. As I’ve mentioned before, this isn’t selfish behaviour because you are putting your needs first. And if you’re lucky enough to have a healthy tribe of people who support you then they will understand.

The more I experience negative thoughts, the easier it becomes to rely on myself to get me out of the ‘funk’. I know I am the only one responsible for myself.

Here are a few observations (from my personal experience);

  • I believe we often rely on other people too much, like an emotional crutch. When really, all we have to do is know ourselves enough to understand what it is we need in order to shake it off – (getting to the point of knowing yourself is a different story entirely and requires constant growth from daily effort. Not easy).
  • There are often times where we are not all we post to be on social media. I believe it’s a way for us to put up barriers to hide our vulnerability. Well… this is me putting an end to that. Expect me to be real and call me out on it if I’m not.
  • ‘Maybe if we ignore the elephant in the room, it will go away.’ Well I’m sorry but it doesn’t, you have to address it. Face it head on but be kind to yourself. Take time out, be on your own, do the things you love and surround yourself with uplifting people.
  • Eat regular healthy meals, drink water, get outside, practice yoga, meditate, be in the present moment, cut ties with negative people, exercise, express your feelings, listen to music, keep your home clutter free and most importantly… BREATHE! These things are my daily saviours.

I give you this advice from my heart to yours, because I’ve known pain like never before recently and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. That being said, everyone experiences it differently. I am extremely grateful that I can function normally and throw myself into work instead… other people aren’t so lucky and the darkness consumes them.

I am openly letting you see into my soul and I am not afraid anymore because I accept who I am. And I love her… the mess she may be at times.

By accepting who you are in every moment, not just when you are happy, allows people into your life who accept you too.

So, stop saying you are fine when you are not.

Speak your truth…


Ashleigh James
About the Author: Ashleigh James

With a strong background in management and education in the Health and Wellness industry, Ashleigh has been fortunate to work in the UK, Bermuda and Canada. These fantastic opportunities helped develop who she is but have lead her to wanting more.

Ashleigh discovered that she wanted to gain financial security from her own hard work and dedication while also inspiring individuals to realize their true worth and potential. She has been forcing herself outside of her comfort zone and facing fears not only for her own development but to share this advice with those wanting to become the best version of themselves.

As well as being the founder/editor of GEM Magazine, Ashleigh has a strong desire to empower women and loves to inspire those ready look within and make a change. She believes you have to change yourself first before you can change the world.

You can find Ashleigh at GEM Magazine, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and learn more about her at About Me

7 Comments

Dwain M

If you’re fortunate enough to have a healthy tribe of folks who encourage you, then they will understand. Take some time out, be on your own, do the things you love, and surround yourself with inspiring people.

Reply
Leilani Serrata- Ramos

I love this so much. It’s very true about her having a strong ability to turn it into work, others get consumed and can’t see it as clear. I love this article very much, made my day!

Reply
separation

I know this website gives quality dependent posts and extra material, is there any other web page which gives these kinds of data in quality?

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Amanda L

Excellent post but I’m sorry you are going through this. It sucks. Mindfulness and self awareness are SO important but so hard when you in the thick of it.

Just wondering… have you ever looked into Bipolar II? I know it is absurd and likely unappreciated to diagnose from a single post but the roller coaster sounds familiar. Doesn’t have to be 4 day cycles, there can be shorter cycles than that. If so, no stand-alone SSRI, can make it a lot worse (it did for me, I can’t speak for anyone else).

Good luck!!

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For way too long, there’s been an idea that discipline has to make kids feel bad if it’s going to steer them away from bad choices. But my gosh we’ve been so wrong. 

The idea is a hangover from behaviourism, which built its ideas on studies done with animals. When they made animals scared of something, the animal stopped being drawn to that thing. It’s where the idea of punishment comes from - if we punish kids, they’ll feel scared or bad, and they’ll stop doing that thing. Sounds reasonable - except children aren’t animals. 

The big difference is that children have a frontal cortex (thinking brain) which animals and other mammals don’t have. 

All mammals have a feeling brain so they, like us, feel sad, scared, happy - but unlike us, they don’t feel shame. The reason animals stop doing things that make them feel bad is because on a primitive, instinctive level, that thing becomes associated with pain - so they stay away. There’s no deliberate decision making there. It’s raw instinct. 

With a thinking brain though, comes incredibly sophisticated capacities for complex emotions (shame), thinking about the past (learning, regret, guilt), the future (planning, anxiety), and developing theories about why things happen. When children are shamed, their theories can too easily build around ‘I get into trouble because I’m bad.’ 

Children don’t need to feel bad to do better. They do better when they know better, and when they feel calm and safe enough in their bodies to access their thinking brain. 

For this, they need our influence, but we won’t have that if they are in deep shame. Shame drives an internal collapse - a withdrawal from themselves, the world and us. For sure it might look like compliance, which is why the heady seduction with its powers - but we lose influence. We can’t teach them ways to do better when they are thinking the thing that has to change is who they are. They can change what they do - they can’t change who they are. 

Teaching (‘What can you do differently next time?’ ‘How can you put this right?’) and modelling rather than punishing or shaming, is the best way to grow beautiful little humans into beautiful big ones.

#parenting
Sometimes needs will come into being like falling stars - gently fading in and fading out. Sometimes they will happen like meteors - crashing through the air with force and fury. But they won’t always look like needs. Often they will look like big, unreachable, unfathomable behaviour. 

If needs and feelings are too big for words, they will speak through behaviour. Behaviour is the language of needs and feelings, and it is always a call for us to come closer. Big feelings happen as a way to recruit support to help carry an emotional load that feels too big for our kids and teens. We can help with this load by being a strong, calm, loving presence, and making space for that feeling or need to be ‘heard’. 

When big behaviour or big feelings are happening, whenever you can be curious about the need behind it. There will always be a valid one. Meet them where they without needing them to be different. Breathe, validate, and be with, and you don’t need to do more than that. 

Part of building resilience is recognising that some days and some things are rubbish, and that sometimes those days and things last for longer than they should, but we get through. First we feel floored, then we feel stuck, then we shift because the only choices we have we have are to stay down or move, even when moving hurts. Then, eventually we adjust - either ourselves, the problem, or to a new ‘is’. 

But the learning comes from experience. They can’t learn to manage big feelings unless they have big feelings. They can’t learn to read the needs behind their feelings if they don’t have the space to let those big feelings come back to small enough so the needs behind them can step forward. 

When their world has spikes, and when we give them a soft space to ‘be’, we ventilate their world. We help them find room for their out breath, and for influence, and for their wisdom to grow from their experiences and ours. In the end we have no choice. They will always be stronger and bigger and wiser and braver when they are with you, than when they are without. It’s just how it is.♥️
When kids or teens have big feelings, what they need more than anything is our strong, safe, loving presence. In those moments, it’s less about what we do in response to those big feelings, and more about who we are. Think of this like providing a shelter and gentle guidance for their distressed nervous system to help it find its way home, back to calm. 

Big feelings are the way the brain calls for support. It’s as though it’s saying, ‘This emotional load is too big for me to carry on my own. Can you help me carry it?’ 

Every time we meet them where they are, with a calm loving presence, we help those big feelings back to small enough. We help them carry the emotional load and build the emotional (neural) muscle for them to eventually be able to do it on their own. We strengthen the neural pathways between big feelings and calm, over and over, until that pathway is so clear and so strong, they can walk it on their own. 

Big beautiful neural pathways will let them do big, beautiful things - courage, resilience, independence, self regulation. Those pathways are only built through experience, so before children and teens can do any of this on their own, they’ll have to walk the pathway plenty of times with a strong, calm loving adult. Self-regulation only comes from many experiences of co-regulation. 

When they are calm and connected to us, then we can have the conversations that are growthful for them - ‘Can you help me understand what happened?’ ‘What can help you so this differently next time?’ ‘How can you put things right? Do you need my help to do that?’ We grow them by ‘doing with’ them♥️
Big feelings, and the big behaviour that comes from big feelings, are a sign of a distressed nervous system. Think of this like a burning building. The behaviour is the smoke. The fire is a distressed nervous system. It’s so tempting to respond directly to the behaviour (the smoke), but by doing this, we ignore the fire. Their behaviour and feelings in that moment are a call for support - for us to help that distressed brain and body find the way home. 

The most powerful language for any nervous system is another nervous system. They will catch our distress (as we will catch theirs) but they will also catch our calm. It can be tempting to move them to independence on this too quickly, but it just doesn’t work this way. Children can only learn to self-regulate with lots (and lots and lots) of experience co-regulating. 

This isn’t something that can be taught. It’s something that has to be experienced over and over. It’s like so many things - driving a car, playing the piano - we can talk all we want about ‘how’ but it’s not until we ‘do’ over and over that we get better at it. 

Self-regulation works the same way. It’s not until children have repeated experiences with an adult bringing them back to calm, that they develop the neural pathways to come back to calm on their own. 

An important part of this is making sure we are guiding that nervous system with tender, gentle hands and a steady heart. This is where our own self-regulation becomes important. Our nervous systems speak to each other every moment of every day. When our children or teens are distressed, we will start to feel that distress. It becomes a loop. We feel what they feel, they feel what we feel. Our own capacity to self-regulate is the circuit breaker. 

This can be so tough, but it can happen in microbreaks. A few strong steady breaths can calm our own nervous system, which we can then use to calm theirs. Breathe, and be with. It’s that simple, but so tough to do some days. When they come back to calm, then have those transformational chats - What happened? What can make it easier next time?

Who you are in the moment will always be more important than what you do.
How we are with them, when they are their everyday selves and when they aren’t so adorable, will build their view of three things: the world, its people, and themselves. This will then inform how they respond to the world and how they build their very important space in it. 

Will it be a loving, warm, open-hearted space with lots of doors for them to throw open to the people and experiences that are right for them? Or will it be a space with solid, too high walls that close out too many of the people and experiences that would nourish them.

They will learn from what we do with them and to them, for better or worse. We don’t teach them that the world is safe for them to reach into - we show them. We don’t teach them to be kind, respectful, and compassionate. We show them. We don’t teach them that they matter, and that other people matter, and that their voices and their opinions matter. We show them. We don’t teach them that they are little joy mongers who light up the world. We show them. 

But we have to be radically kind with ourselves too. None of this is about perfection. Parenting is hard, and days will be hard, and on too many of those days we’ll be hard too. That’s okay. We’ll say things we shouldn’t say and do things we shouldn’t do. We’re human too. Let’s not put pressure on our kiddos to be perfect by pretending that we are. As long as we repair the ruptures as soon as we can, and bathe them in love and the warmth of us as much as we can, they will be okay.

This also isn’t about not having boundaries. We need to be the guardians of their world and show them where the edges are. But in the guarding of those boundaries we can be strong and loving, strong and gentle. We can love them, and redirect their behaviour.

It’s when we own our stuff(ups) and when we let them see us fall and rise with strength, integrity, and compassion, and when we hold them gently through the mess of it all, that they learn about humility, and vulnerability, and the importance of holding bruised hearts with tender hands. It’s not about perfection, it’s about consistency, and honesty, and the way we respond to them the most.♥️

#parenting #mindfulparenting

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