Where do I start?

I moved states to be back with my family after a rough breakup and because of COVID, thinking being back close with family would be good. But now home I’ve never felt so lost and depressed. I’ve turned to alcohol and isolating myself. I am in a new relationship now that my family don’t like my partner, I think I’m still in love with the man I with in the previous state and feel like I’m loosing myself and reality of the world. Pulling myself out of bed everyday is becoming harder and harder though I don’t feel anyone in my circle would understand as they all view me as “positive Polly pants”
Asked by Bentley
Answered
11/29/2021

Hello Bentley,

I am glad you reached out for support at this time.  I am sorry you are struggling at this moment.  I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  

I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles so that I can focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even though you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process, you can have support 100% of the time as you can reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  

I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you during this time of struggle you are having.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through your struggles and be able to ask for support from others.

After reading your question I wanted to send you skills and tools to help when you are feeling sad or upset. I wanted to share how small steps can make a big impact

Depression can drain your energy, leaving you feeling empty and fatigued. This can make it difficult to muster the strength or desire to seek treatment.  However, there are small steps you can take to help you feel more in control and improve your overall sense of well-being.

1. Meet yourself where you are

Depression is common. It affects millions of people, including some in your life. You may not realize they face similar challenges, emotions, and obstacles.

2. If you need to wallow, wallow — but do so constructively

Suppressing your feelings and emotions may seem like a strategic way to cope with the negative symptoms of depression. But this technique is ultimately unhealthy. If you’re having a down day, have it. Let yourself feel the emotions — but don’t stay there. Consider writing or journaling about what you’re experiencing. Then, when the feelings lift, write about that, too. Seeing the ebb and flow of depressive symptoms can be instructive for both self-healing and hope.

3. Know that today isn’t indicative of tomorrow

Today’s mood, emotions, or thoughts don’t belong to tomorrow. If you were unsuccessful at getting out of bed or accomplishing your goals today, remember that you haven’t lost tomorrow’s opportunity to try again. Give yourself the grace to accept that while some days will be difficult, some days will also be great. Try to look forward to tomorrow’s fresh start.

4. Assess the parts instead of generalizing the whole

Depression can tinge recollections with negative emotions. You may find yourself focusing on the one thing that went wrong instead of the many things that went right. Try to stop this overgeneralization. Push yourself to recognize the good. If it helps, write down what was happy about the event or day. Then write down what went wrong. Seeing the weight you’re giving to one thing may help you direct your thoughts away from the whole and to the individual pieces that were positive.

5. Do the opposite of what the ‘depression voice’ suggests

The negative, irrational voice in your head may talk you out of self-help. However, if you can learn to recognize it, you can learn to replace it. Use logic as a weapon. Address each thought individually as it occurs. If you believe an event won’t be fun or worth your time, say to yourself, “You might be right, but it’ll be better than just sitting here another night.” You may soon see the negative isn’t always realistic.

6. Set attainable goals

A lengthy to-do list may be so weighty that you’d rather do nothing. Instead of compiling a long list of tasks, consider setting one or two smaller goals.

For example:

Don’t clean the house; take the trash out. Don’t do all the laundry that’s piled up; just sort the piles by color. Don’t clear out your entire email inbox; just address any time-sensitive messages.

When you’ve done a small thing, set your eyes on another small thing, and then another. This way, you have a list of tangible achievements and not an untouched to-do list.

7. Reward your efforts All goals are worthy of recognition, and all successes are worthy of celebration. When you achieve a goal, do your best to recognize it. You may not feel like celebrating with a cake and confetti, but recognizing your successes can be a very powerful weapon against depression’s negative weight. The memory of a job well done may be especially powerful against negative talk and overgeneralization.

8. You may find it helpful to create a routine

If depressive symptoms disrupt your daily routine, setting a gentle schedule may help you feel in control. But these plans don’t have to map out an entire day. Your schedule could focus on the time before work or right before bed. Perhaps it’s only for the weekends. Focus on creating a loose, but structured, routine that can help you keep your daily pace going.

9. Do something you enjoy…

Depression can push you to give in to your fatigue. It may feel more powerful than happy emotions. Try to push back and do something you love — something that’s relaxing, but energizing. It could be playing an instrument, painting, hiking, or biking. These activities can provide subtle lifts in your mood and energy, which may help you overcome your symptoms.

10. …like listening to music

Music can be a great way to boost your mood and improve symptoms of depression. It may also help your reception of positive emotions. Music may be especially beneficial when performed in group settings, such as a musical ensemble or band. You can also reap some of the same rewards simply by listening.

11. Or spend time in nature

Mother Nature can have a powerful influence on depression. People who spend time in nature have improved mental health. Exposure to sunlight may offer some of the same benefits. It can increase your serotonin levels. Consider taking a walk at lunch among the trees or spending some time in your local park. Or plan a weekend hike. These activities can help you reconnect with nature and soak in some rays at the same time.

12. Or spend time with loved ones

Depression can tempt you to isolate yourself and withdraw from your friends and family, but face-to-face time can help wash away those tendencies. If you’re unable to spend time together in person, phone calls or video chats can also be helpful. Try to remind yourself these people care about you. Resist the temptation to feel like you’re a burden. You need the interaction — and they likely do, too.

13. Try something new entirely

When you do the same thing day after day, you use the same parts of your brain. You can challenge your neurons and alter your brain chemistry by doing something entirely different. Doing new things can improve your overall well-being and strengthen your social relationships. To reap these benefits, consider trying a new sport, taking a creative class, or learning a new cooking technique.

14. Volunteering can be a great way to do both

Knock out a few birds with one stone — spending time with other people and doing something new — by volunteering and giving your time to someone or something else. You may be used to receiving help from friends, but reaching out and providing help may improve your mental health more.

15. You can also use this as a way to practice gratitude

When you do something you love, or even when you find a new activity you enjoy, you may be able to boost your mental health more by taking time to be thankful for it. Gratitude can have lasting positive effects on your overall mental health. What’s more, writing down your gratitude — including writing notes to others — can be particularly meaningful.

16. Incorporating meditation may help ground your thoughts

Stress and anxiety can prolong your depression symptoms. Finding relaxation techniques can help you lower stress and invite more joy and balance into your day. Activities like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and even journaling may help you improve your sense of well-being and feel more connected to what’s happening around you.

17. What you eat and drink can also affect how you feel

There’s no magic diet that will treat depression. But what you put into your body can have a real and significant impact on the way you feel. Some people also have more energy when they avoid sugar, preservatives, and processed foods.  If you have the means, consider meeting with a doctor or registered dietitian for guidance.

18. If you’re up for exercise, consider a walk around the block

On days when you feel as if you can’t get out of bed, exercise may seem like the last thing you’d want to do. However, exercise and physical activity can be powerful depression fighters.  For some people, exercise can be as effective as medication at relieving depression symptoms. It may also help prevent future depressive episodes. If you’re able to, take a walk around the block. Start with a five-minute walk and work your way up from there.

19. Getting enough sleep can also have a noticeable effect

Sleep disturbances are common with depression. You may not sleep well, or you may sleep too much. Both can make depression symptoms worse. Aim for eight hours of sleep per night. Try to get into a healthy sleeping routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help you with your daily schedule. Getting the proper amount of sleep may also help you feel more balanced and energized throughout your day.

10 Natural Depression Treatments

Being depressed can make you feel helpless. You're not. Along with therapy and sometimes medication, there's a lot you can do on your own to fight back. Changing your behavior -- your physical activity, lifestyle, and even your way of thinking -- are all natural depression treatments.

These tips can help you feel better -- starting right now.

1. Get in a routine. If you’re depressed, a daily routine is helpful for you to set up and try to manage your thoughts and feelings.

Depression can strip away the structure from your life. One day melts into the next. Setting a gentle daily schedule can help you get back on track.

2. Set goals. When you're depressed, you may feel like you can't accomplish anything. That makes you feel worse about yourself. To push back, set daily goals for yourself.

Start very small, Make your goal something that you can succeed at, like doing the dishes every other day.

As you start to feel better, you can add more challenging daily goals.

3. Exercise. It temporarily boosts feel-good chemicals called endorphins. It may also have long-term benefits for people with depression. Regular exercise seems to encourage the brain to rewire itself in positive ways.

How much exercise do you need? You don’t need to run marathons to get a benefit. Just walking a few times a week can help.

4. Eat healthily. There is no magic diet that fixes depression. It's a good idea to watch what you eat, though. If depression tends to make you overeat, getting in control of your eating will help you feel better.

Although nothing is definitive, There's evidence that foods with omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and tuna) and folic acid (such as spinach and avocado) could help ease depression.

5. Get enough sleep. Depression can make it hard to get enough shut-eye, and too little sleep can make depression worse.

What can you do? Start by making some changes to your lifestyle. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try not to nap. Take all the distractions out of your bedroom -- no computer and no TV. In time, you may find your sleep improves.

6. Take on responsibilities. When you’re depressed, you may want to pull back from life and give up your responsibilities at home and work. Don't. Staying involved and having daily responsibilities can help you maintain a lifestyle that can help counter depression. They ground you and give you a sense of accomplishment.

If you're not up to full-time school or work, that’s fine. Think about part-time. If that seems like too much, consider volunteer work.

7. Challenge negative thoughts. In your fight against depression, a lot of the work is mental -- changing how you think. When you're depressed, you leap to the worst possible conclusions.

The next time you're feeling terrible about yourself, use logic as a natural depression treatment. You might feel like no one likes you, but is there real evidence for that? You might feel like the most worthless person on the planet, but is that likely? It takes practice, but in time you can beat back those negative thoughts before they get out of control.

8. Check with your doctor before using supplements. There's promising evidence for certain supplements for depression.  These include fish oil, folic acid, and SAMe. But more research needs to be done before we'll know for sure. Always check with your doctor before starting any supplement, especially if you’re already taking medications.

9. Do something new. When you’re depressed, you’re in a rut. Push yourself to do something different. Go to a museum. Pick up a used book and read it on a park bench. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Take a language class.

When we challenge ourselves to do something different, there are chemical changes in the brain.  Trying something new alters the levels of [the brain chemical] dopamine, which is associated with pleasure, enjoyment, and learning.

10. Try to have fun. If you’re depressed, make time for things you enjoy. What if nothing seems fun anymore? That's just a symptom of depression, You have to keep trying anyway.

 

6 BRAIN-BOOSTING REASONS TO EXERCISE

We know that exercise is great for our bodies, but what about our brains? Does going for a run or picking up some weights affect the health or strength of our brains? The answer is a resounding yes! 

 

 

1) Improved Mood

Believe it or not, exercise can help to reduce the feelings and symptoms associated with both short- and long-term depression! In studies done with people currently suffering from depression, physical activity was shown to increase feelings of hopefulness and decrease depressive symptoms. It's also been found that people with anxiety tend to suffer fewer panic attacks when they begin a regime of exercising regularly. So if you tend to suffer from anxiety or depression, or just have had a stressful day and are looking for a boost, look no further than your gym shoes!

2) More Resilient To Stress

Exercising regularly can also help your brain better adapt to stress! We talked about the negative effect stress has on the brain here, but exercise can not only help you better deal with present stress, but it can make you more resilient when it comes to both physical and emotional stressors in the future as well.

3) Memory Benefits

Exercise has incredible benefits when it comes to improving and preserving your memory. One particular study found that moderate, aerobic exercise significantly improved people's spatial memory (the kind of memory you would use for directions or finding your way through a maze), as well as increased the overall size of the hippocampus (a vital brain structure when it comes to learning and memory). So forget playing those 'brain boosting' games on your phone and just head to the gym!

4) Improved Social Skills

Research from the University of Michigan suggests that exercise can help improve overall social function, especially in adolescents. Team sports specifically can help to build a sense of self-esteem, leadership, and even empathy. To get the most out of your exercise, try joining a basketball or volleyball, or softball team!

5) Better Sleep

When it comes to getting a better night's sleep, scientific studies have yet to find a better activity than exercise! Exercise raises your core body temperature and then, after exercise, that temperature falls again which can help promote a better night's sleep. Weight lifting is an especially effective form of exercise when it comes to falling and staying asleep.

6) New Brain Cells

Exercise, especially cardio exercises like vigorous walking, running or dancing has been shown to help your brain to create new neurons (neurogenesis) in areas like the hippocampus, which is a vital brain structure when it comes to learning and memory. So the next time you head out for that walk or run or bike ride, just think about all the new brain cells you'll be getting!

So what's the best form of exercise for our brains?

The answer is everything! The best exercise routine for our brains will involve at least 20 minutes of physical activity (elevated heart rate) 4+ times a week. The key is to it up. Our brains are more challenged when we step outside of our routine, and that includes our exercise routine! If you walk every day, try alternating walking with lightweight training or even core and stretching. A balanced exercise program will include elements of cardio, weight training, balance, stretching, and core. At Faithful Workouts, we try to incorporate all of those elements into our faith-based exercise videos.

I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in the struggles you have been facing at this time. I am going to give you my information if you are wanting to start to process through and work on your struggles going forward, please reach out to Betterhelp and ask to be matched with Crystal Westman. If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are struggling and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.