Saddened by first learning that suicide among middle aged American women spiked first time ever, then teen suicides and attempts doubling in the past decade, and most recently by Anthony Bourdain’s departure, two sides of a coin, depression and anxiety have become a super salient topic. I wrote the following paragraph in response to an online conversation about suicide and depression, and it was suggested I do share my light. So I will try.
“I went from being someone tried on every antidepressant there was over decades and told I needed to remain medicated for life in order to live, to being off pharmaceuticals for years without depression and gratitude for life. Since I work in media I’m aware of the epidemic and wish I could figure out how to bottle what steps I took to be healthy. But each person needs their own healing and I’ve been hesitant to preach or teach a solution. I do think shifts in focus are powerful retraining of destructive mind capacity inherent in us all, because what we focus on expands. Yes, there are many aspects of American “culture” that are sick, but at least for me, a focus on timeless elements the Earth provides which are bountiful in America is part of healing the disconnected heart.”
I’ve written about depression in this blog many times.
Here – What Helps
Here – Raveling
Here – Silent Happiness Lobby
Here – Love and Sadness
To recap my two cents if I could bottle a moment of teach and preach:
- Becoming familiar with the part of yourself that can unconditionally love you no matter what can save you again and again. Meet this part of yourself. It exists in all of us.
- Figure out what “habit scaffolding” you need to build in your life to maintain your balance, through trial and error. Once you find those things – walking daily, supportive nature connection practice, diet, meditation and creative practice for me – stay with them! Build them into your day in, day out, no matter how you feel on a given day, how great you are at talking yourself out of a habit, or where you are, and you will remain balanced in the face of whatever the universe throws at you. This does not mean rigidity. After all, scaffolding can shift with high winds, but at least you will have a framework that works for you.
- Keep your focus on what works for you, because shifting your focus to what brings light outside and inside of you will expand that light.
- Consider the possibility that food may be one of the most powerful pathways we have to control the chemical soup our physical bodies swim in and the impact this can have on our brains and mental health.
- To feel more whole, take baby steps to heal a mind-body disconnect that can be caused by any number of traumatic experiences. My rift lasted decades until it recently felt healed. One book that especially helped me was In Touch: How to Tune Into The Inner Guidance of Your Body and Trust Yourself. The next step for me is incorporating a leap from decades of frozen sedentary computer work to being physically engaged outdoors more and more of the time, regardless of income. I’m taking baby steps in that direction, granting myself freedom where I tend to see none possible due to economic constraints.
- Consider the possibility “Nothing is wrong with you” and work from where you are. No perfection needed.