by Cailin O'Hara, MAcOM, LAc, Dipl OM
It hits you. You don’t know how long it’s been developing.
You’ve been sinking, emotionally, and you’re less and less able to surface.
You feel a heaviness, like you’re living in a fog.
You keep crying or you can’t seem to cry at all.
No amount of talking about it makes you feel better.
You don’t know what to do, and maybe you can’t even find the energy to try.
It’s oppressive. It’s overwhelming. It haunts you. You can’t shake it.
The thoughts swarm, and they’re all defeating you; they’re negative; a barrage of “what’s the point?” or “I can’t take this anymore” or “no one understands.”
Depression doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.
It doesn’t mean you’re any less worthy or capable than anyone else.
It’s not necessarily a disease plaguing your brain, either.
YOU ARE HAVING FEELINGS. YOU ARE REACTING TO LIFE.
STEP ONE: ACCEPT THAT.
Whew. Now that the truth has been dropped, let’s keep going…
There is this stigma against being sad, angry or in despair. It’s as if it’s not ok to feel awful. That’s the first problem. Judging these valid emotions as wrong or bad is the starting point to a downward spiral.
Here’s the thing. You’re entitled to feel HOWEVER you feel. Don’t shame yourself. And don’t take it personally if other people shame you, either. They’re just doing the best they can from their frame of mind. And people can be judge-y as F, you know.
Forgive them, keep going.
Depression gets tricky. It’s very convincing, not to mention dreadfully heavy. It pulls you down. It changes how you see everything. The negative thoughts go on and on, one cascade after another, feeding off of each other, until you feel so awful, so wholly inconsolable, that you feel utterly lost.
How can you climb out of this?
First of all, YOU CAN. I promise you that. I have. You can. You may have to more than once, and that’s ok. Keep going. We are SUCH a resilient species! We have no concept of the massive power we possess. Even if you tap into 5% of that power, it’s enough to get you out of the darkness. How? Because each move you make, each negative thought you challenge, each step you take toward feeling better gets you closer and closer to the relief and true peace you seek.
I can only share with you what has helped me and my patients. But remember, we are all different. We all need an approach that fits us uniquely. SO, start by feeling for what it is that YOU need. There are so many people out here, including me, waiting for you to show up seeking help. But you have come find us.
When I was 13, I was in a downward spiral no one could stop. Really. Thankfully, when it was just about too late, I found the help I needed (let's call it divine intervention), and it woke me up to that 5% of my power. I never felt that low again. I saved myself, and it was just the beginning of my journey to feeling whole and happy. I can report to you that decades later, I continue to discover greater happiness and wholeness.
No one will advocate for you like you can. No one knows what you need. Only you do. Somewhere inside, you intuitively know what you need. You HAVE to follow that. Sometimes it means you need to make a HUGE change, like move to a new state, get a new job, leave a relationship, travel. Sometimes it means you make a lot of little changes until your life totally transforms, like taking up meditation, weekly therapy sessions, joining a group, etc. Maybe you need to do both of those things.
You must change that negative spiral frame of mind that seeps in like poison, though. The best way to do that is to GET a different perspective. Literally. GO get it. The best way to do that is to ASK for it. Meditation can help you find it. Prayer can. Going for a drive can. Reading a book on the topic can (books have changed my life, my health and my mind for the better pretty epically). The way you are currently seeing things is just ONE way. You can see them differently.
As the brilliant late Dr. Wayne Dyer said:
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
So, climb out of the hole. Look for any glimmer of light and follow it. You may feel like a speck in this world, but we are ALL connected, we are ALL powerful, and we ALL have INCREDIBLE gifts to offer one another. We need yours.
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So if you watched the video, you heard me explain that anxiety is completely normal. It is! But it can become an overwhelming spiral. Here's how you can stop it in its tracks.
Close your eyes and try this breathing exercise.
If you've been in recently, I may have taught this to you. If not, here's how it goes:
(count in your mind, not aloud)
- Breathe in as you count to 4
- Hold your breath and count to 4
- Breathe out as you count to 4
- Hold your breath and count to 4
As you are doing this breathing technique, you can also draw an imaginary box in your mind. Here's a video to help with that or ask me at your next session.
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Dr. Cailin O'Hara, DACM, LAc, Dipl OM, is a nationally board certified Doctor of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, herbalist and coach. She is based in Phoenix, AZ.
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