A while back I was delighted to hear the inspiring Conor Cusack, Cork Hurler, mental health advocate.
Conor talked about the uniqueness and preciousness of each of us. His perspective on depression is incredible insightful.
“Depression is difficult to explain to people. I don’t think there are words adequate to describe its horror. It permeates every part of your being, from your head to your toes. It is never ending, waves and waves of utter despair and hopelessness and fear and darkness flood throughout your whole body. You crave for peace but even sleep doesn’t afford that. It wrecks your dreams and turns your days into a living nightmare. It destroys your personality, your relationship with your family and friends, your work, your sporting life, it affects them all. Your ability to give and receive affection is gone.”
For many experiencing depression, the themes are sadness, hopelessness and despair. It is like wearing a pair of glasses that only let in negativity. A black hole that sucks in any positive energy.
Depression is a thief
In my book ‘Becoming Your Real’ I describe depression as a thief robbing you of relationships.
Take John who saw me, I remember him slumped in the chair in my office saying ‘I would prefer a broken leg or cancer; my depression is invisible. Cancer has a treatment pathway; in depression the treatment pathway is unknown.’
The Power of Hope
Fostering hope in depression is critical. Hope generates new energies. It acts as the stepping stone to connect you withyour loved ones. If depression sees the world as dark and miserable, hope bursts in with light, possibility and change.
It grows slowly through actions and goals. For example, small exercise goals, walking, swimming or cycling for 20 minutes 3 days a week, or even a smaller goal putting on your runners and getting out for 5 minutes, all help grow the seed of hope.
As a psychologist I think the critical question is what’s keeping the depression going? Most often the forever present ‘automatic negative thoughts ‘ are the fuel. The good news is that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is an incredibly powerful treatment; and mindfulness is very effective to prevent a relapse. It targets hopelessness and its ugly cousins of helplessness, worthlessness and despair.
As relationships and connections are a central loss in depression, try to connect with someone with depression. By helping them to think and act differently, you will raise their hope and banish depression.
Conor Cusack in his first hand account of his depression and recovery says “there is no situation that is without hope, there is no person that can’t overcome their present difficulties. For those that are suffering silently, there is help out there and you are definitely not alone.”
The first step is the hardest, seek help go to your GP, psychologist or recommended counsellor, you will be treated with respect and compassion.
You will not be surprised to hear that if someone rings enquiring to set up a session 8 times out of 10 it’s a woman. Mums and wives ring for adults sons and for their husbands. Men are disastrous when it comes to seeking help. I want to thank those women, but appeal to men to mind their health physical and emotional. Being emotional or depressed is not a failing in a man.
Beliefs that will foster hope include ‘I am unique, I am proactive, I am emotionally healthy, I give and receive love’.
Today, do one thing that adds to your emotional wellbeing and nurtures hope.