Depression: Expectations vs. Reality
Exhaustion, changes in appetite and/or sleep, and loss of interests. In 2021, 32.8% of adults in the U.S. experienced elevated depressive symptoms; in 2020 it was 27.8%. Pre-pandemic, it was 8.5%.
IMO, what prolongs the journey of depression is the disconnect between the expectation of what it’s supposed to be vs the reality of what it is.
When it comes to the mental, emotional, and physical prison that is depression, releasing these 3 expectations will allow one to eventually break free.
- I’m going to have to deal with this alone.
Depression can feel like you’re alone drowning, while everyone on the shore seems to be doing fine. Worse, they’re telling you to just swim, like it’s that simple. But you’re not alone. Let me repeat, you’re NOT alone! It’s about finding the right people to be vulnerable with and can truly understand what you’re going through.
2. What worked for them will work for me.
Depression ranges from mild to severe, so what worked for one person may not work for you. People fall into depression for various reasons, whether that be a chemical imbalance, a specific incident, or a series of events. Find what works for YOU.
3. I must maintain high levels of physical productivity.
Mental health can take a toll on you. You may not always have the energy to get everything done on your to-do list & that’s okay. Your levels of productivity do not define your worth! Start small, even if it’s just getting out of bed.
- Depression is extremely exhausting.
This is especially true for those who care about you & want to see you do better. Hurtful, phrases like, just be happy, you don’t look depressed, it could be worse, or this too shall pass might be coming from a good place. But due to their ignorance, loved ones may not know how to admit that they feel helpless in providing a solution.
2. Your depression doesn’t just affect you, but those connected to you as well.
It’s hard to show up for yourself, let alone other relational obligations such as parents, siblings, friends, children, co-workers, etc. Not wanting to feel like a burden, it can be easy to hide behind smiles & laughter. Because feigning happiness can be easier than being vulnerable with people who may not understand, or worse, may not care.
3. You can overcome depression.
You may feel hopeless like you’re in this alone and this is it. But trust me, this isn’t the end. I say this with my full chest. Keep going!
How to Overcome Depression
I want to preface that as a Holistic Mental Health Coach my experience is in working with mild to moderate depression & that is what I’ll be referring to. If you’re experiencing severe depression and are having thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself, I encourage you to reach out to someone or call the National Suicide Prevention Line.
If I were to ask you not why you’re depressed, but how you’re depressed, what would you say? What do you picture in your mind’s eye, what do you say to yourself? How do you say it, & what tonality do you use? These things create specific mental & physical actions and thus, distinct emotional results.
The first step then is to put yourself in a resourceful state of mind. You do that by examining your limiting beliefs, being mindful of how you talk to yourself & implementing empowering rituals in your day-to-day life. These rituals can consist of journaling, yoga, prayer, meditation, bike riding, or creating nutritious meals.
The second step is to embrace the mystery that is depression. According to author Parker J. Palmer, this doesn’t mean passivity or resignation. It means listening, waiting, watching, suffering & gathering whatever self-knowledge one can & then making choices based on that information no matter how difficult. Overcoming depression is about expressing personal truth & choosing each day to do things that awaken your soul & resist things that don’t.
The third step is to resist self-judgment. The soul only reveals its truth under quiet, trustworthy & inviting conditions. If you’re judging yourself, the soul will view this as rejection & the truth within will remain hidden. You didn’t write in your journal like you said you would; Okay you’ll do it tomorrow. You went off on a family member because you weren’t feeling well; Okay, acknowledge it, make amends. Then, move on!
Lastly, act! You don’t have to do a lot, but you do have to do something, no matter how small. If you told yourself that you’re going to meditate for 10 minutes 3 days a week, stick to it. The key is consistency.
I believe in you. You got this! As a Holistic Mental Health Coach, I’ve seen many people reclaim their power & overcome their depression.