am I depressed?

Hi recently I have been feeling off. not sad really, just empty.... I can't seem to muster the energy or initiative to do much of anything. Everyday I look forward to sleep. Be it a nap or nighttime.... thats my favorite thing.... I was asking myself if I was depressed. I don't exactly feel sad, just empty. Is this depression?
Or just getting a bit older ( I am 51) and not having the energy you once did? I don't have any self harm thoughts, I just want to rest and sleep and my favorite times of the day is when everyone leaves me the F alone.

This doesn't feel like a nice life.... not sure what to do. I don't have the money at this time to get any betterhelp. but thank you for listening.

Asked by Thelonious
Answered
12/05/2021

Hello Thelonious,

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 am able to 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 are able to 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. I am unsure if what you are feeling is depression, or just not having things in your life that make you happy. If we were to work together we would be going over these things to see if it is depression or something else 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 a few different readings, the first is on Motivation and What causes a lack of motivation? I will also send you ways to find your happiness.

Oftentimes feeling motivated is elusive. This feeling comes and goes unpredictably and sometimes doesn't even show up at all. As a result, you may find yourself procrastinating, not working toward goals, and often feeling depressed. The problem with motivation is that you may feel inspired when feeling motivated, to the point that it may seem too difficult to put forth effort when motivation is absent. Then you end up waiting for motivation to inspire you to work toward your goals, and you may waste a lot of time waiting for it to happen on its own. The more you wait, the more time goes, which could mean you don't feel like you are doing what matters, and you can easily become demoralized.

 

What other factors affect motivation?

 

In terms of work, there are a few major factors that determine whether or not a person can stay motivated. These are pride, recognition, monetary rewards, pressure (either by their peers or bosses), and fear. A person will need to work through these things if they want to stay motivated on a regular basis. While these factors pertain to professional goals, this does not make them any less valid in a personal sense. In other words, they may still govern you in your private life. If you are not getting the recognition you need when it comes to a relationship, you are unlikely to keep doing some of the same things you may have done at the beginning of the relationship. This is to be expected. There are different reasons why you may not feel motivated. The motivation problem could be a situation in your life or a cognitive and emotional challenge that we have been discussing in our sessions. We will discuss more strategies and tools to help you feel and stay motivated in our sessions. In the meantime here are some things you can do.

 

What can you do about it?

 

1. Put it in writing. Please identify what you want and put it in writing. Be as clear and specific as possible - include both quantitative (something that can be measured) and qualitative (including how you will feel) aspects. Once you write it down, keep it somewhere in sight. We make plans and make promises to ourselves to follow through, but if it's just in our minds, we tend to forget both plans and promises as soon as life gets busy. Putting things in writing holds you accountable for your goals; it also serves as a reminder of all the progress you made.

 

2. Minimize distractions. When you are disorganized, you cannot progress with anything because your attention is divided between so many things. Procrastination can become a problem because you waste your energy on matters that don't really matter. Nothing is more distracting and demotivating than a cluttered mind. If you find yourself running in circles, hit "pause" and take a moment to think back to your priorities. When you know your priorities, it is very easy to trim off all the time-eaters and energy-zappers that keep you from moving forward.

 

3. Be aware of the potential pitfalls. Ask yourself what obstacles you might encounter while making progress towards your goals. It is important to be aware of all potential stumbling blocks because you can then decide how to deal with these obstacles. When you actually run into them, you will be able to eliminate them without losing your motivation. After you note down your potential obstacles, the next step is to categorize them into three groups: Those you can control; Those that you can influence; and those you can neither control nor influence. Don't waste your energy on things you cannot fight; instead, focus on what can be done and keep moving forward.

 

4. Embrace positivity. Practice positive self-talk and do things that make you happy because when you are happy, you feel more energized and motivated. Of course, unexpected and undesirable things can happen, and they can negatively affect your attitude and resolve. Remember, negative self-talk and excessive self-criticism will only exacerbate matters and will further weaken your motivation. On the other hand, positive self-talk will help you bounce back faster to your usual self and continue to move forward as if nothing happened.

 

5. Reward yourself. Everyone likes rewards - they make us feel happy, valued, and recognized. Rewards don't need to be big to affect us positively; sometimes, even a scheduled break can reward us. Little rewards here and there for whatever progress you have made will give your motivation a good boost and maintain a positive outlook throughout your journey. Occasional rewards provide that instant gratification that we all crave.

 

Ways to Find Happiness

Happiness and emotional fulfillment are within your grasp. Happiness is and will always be the most cherished, yet most elusive, of all human desires. Day in and day out, many search for happiness, but end the day empty-handed.

Happiness isn’t something that someone gives us, nor is it something that we have to have permission for. Happiness is a state of mind that is created from within. We all want to feel happy, and each of us has different ways of getting there.  Be with others who make you smile. Studies show that we are happiest when we are around those who are also happy. Stick with those who are joyful and let rub off on you. Do you ever wonder why you don’t seem to feel as happy as the person next to you? Do you ever feel that you are on the sidelines looking in on a party you were never invited to? Maybe you seemingly have everything you could possibly want materialistically, but still can’t quite feel that elusive internal contentment?

Maybe you wish you had more, and are not satisfied with your current life circumstances and believe that if you just get that ‘perfect job’ you can then be happy. Or maybe you’ve lost a love…maybe you’ve never had one… and feel that your life is not complete without a significant other to bring you the happiness that is so rightfully yours, but seems to be just out of reach. Regardless of your personal circumstances, it is possible to find internal happiness, that form of happiness that feeds on nothing, except your own desire to find it.

PIES is a common acronym for the complete package to ensure happiness.

P – physical exercise,

I – intellectual stimulation,

E – emotional stimulation,

S – spiritual stimulation. And with this in mind, I have completed a list of things that we all can do to bring out our own internal happiness that is non-reliant on any other person.

 

1.   Hold on to your values. What you find true, what you know is fair, and what you believe in are all values. Over time, the more you honor them, the better you will feel about yourself and those you love.

2.   Accept the good. Look at your life and take stock of what’s working, and don’t push away something just because it isn’t perfect. When good things happen, even the very little ones, let them in.

3.   Imagine the best. Don’t be afraid to look at what you really want and see yourself getting it. Many people avoid this process because they don’t want to be disappointed if things don’t work out. The truth is that imagining getting what you want is a big part of achieving it.

4.   Do things you love. Maybe you can’t skydive every day or take vacations every season, but as long as you get to do the things you love every once in a while, you will find greater happiness.

5.   Find purpose. Those who believe they are contributing to the well-being of humanity tend to feel better about their lives. Most people want to be part of something greater than they are, simply because it’s fulfilling.

6.   Listen to your heart. You are the only one who knows what fills you up. Your family and friends may think you’d be great at something that really doesn’t float your boat. It can be complicated following your bliss. Just be smart, and keep your day job for the time being.

7.   Push yourself, not others. It’s easy to feel that someone else is responsible for your fulfillment, but the reality is that it is really your charge. Once you realize that, you have the power to get where you want to go. Stop blaming others or the world, and you’ll find your answers much sooner.

8.   Be open to change. Even if it doesn’t feel good, change is the one thing you can count on. The change will happen, so make contingency plans and emotionally shore yourself up for the experience.

9.   Bask in the simple pleasures. Those who love you, treasured memories, silly jokes, warm days, and starry nights—these are the ties that bind and the gifts that keep on giving.

10.            State your achievements

“There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.” – Henry Ford

It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and never take the time to reflect on the things we have accomplished. Each of us has done plenty of awesome things in our lives.

So what if life isn’t perfect at this exact moment. It’s okay that it’s taking a tad bit longer with your fitness goals. Don’t worry that you haven’t reached the pinnacle of your career just yet.

The most important thing is that you are moving forward and you’re in a better position today than you were yesterday.

Start a journal listing accomplishments, milestones, and breakthroughs you’ve experienced. After writing this list, take a moment or two to reflect on all you’ve done.

11.   Include the little things you love into your day-to-day life

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “It’s the little things in life that matter.” The little things are the small and often underappreciated aspects of life that truly make us happy. Rather, it’s your favorite cup of Joe, your morning walk along the beach, attending your favorite yoga class, or wearing that outfit that makes you feel like a million bucks.

Schedule your life around the small details that bring you happiness.

12.  Do what you love

As Steve Jobs famously said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

People who do what they love for a living tend to live happier and more productive life, have higher self-esteem and have better health.

 

13.  Paint your perfect day

“To accomplish great things, we must first dream, then visualize, then plan…believe…act!” – Alfred A. Montapert

Everyone has the power to live each day exactly the way they want to. We all have the same 24 hours to work with. It’s up to you to decide how to fill up those minutes.

Ask yourself, are you wasting time watching reality TV, sleeping late, complaining about your job, and wishing for a better life? Or are you going after your goals and dreams, and doing whatever it takes to reach them?

Take these 3 steps to achieve your perfect day:

Realize you have the power to achieve anything you’ve ever wanted and no one else can do the work for you. Figure out what your perfect day looks like. You must believe 100% that your perfect day will become a reality.

14.  Put yourself above everything else

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in the world.” – Lucille Ball

It’s time you put yourself first and become selfish. While it’s admirable to help others, don’t forget to show yourself some love. Treat yourself to a massage. Take a weekend trip where you can disconnect from the noisy world you live in.

Block out your time and let no one cut in.

15.  Tell yourself today will be awesome

“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.” – Dr. Joyce Brothers

Happiness comes from within. Happiness starts with reshaping your mindset to be positive and eliminating all negative thoughts.

Be positive and believe in yourself, no matter the obstacles that might stand in your way.

16.             Forget being perfect and accept yourself as is

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” – Leo Tolstoy

People often act confident and secure around others but deep down, they’re insecure.

Realize we live in an imperfect world and stop comparing yourself to others (it’s not worth it to play ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’).

Once you learn to accept yourself for who you are, life becomes simpler and more peaceful.

17.              Surround yourself with the right company

“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher

Your friends should bring out the best version of you and help you strive to new levels in life. Think of your company in terms of quality instead of quantity.

It’s more important to have a few quality friends who inspire you, than tons of friends who leave you in a negative state of mind.

18.             Stop worrying and keep it moving

“Stop worrying about what you have to lose and start focusing on what you have to gain.” – Author unknown

Life is full of what-ifs and endless possibilities. Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen, whether you worry or not.

So, why waste time worrying when some things you have no control over?

If what you are worried about isn’t within your means to be solved, then move on and don’t let it put a damper on your parade. Embrace the uncertainty that life brings us and get to enjoying life.

  19. Get out of your comfort zone and become bold

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” – Max Depree

Nothing worth having comes with a 100% guarantee of success, nor should it. Being willing to take risks is what life is all about.

Living in your comfort zone shrinks your world and gives you tunnel vision. Instead of thinking, “If only I had…,” take a leap of faith, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll discover the life you always wanted.

20.             Have a feel-good song

“Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought.” – Yip Harburg

Everyone needs a go-to song when they need to brighten up their day. It’s been proven that music can make us happy even on our worst days.

21.             Eat Healthy

The first step one should take in making internal improvements is acknowledging your food choices. I know you’ve heard the cliche ‘You are what you eat.’ Well, a corny cliche that it is, but there is an element of truth to this age old saying!

Fresh fruits and vegetables will provide you with the necessary vitamins and minerals to energize your body throughout the day, providing your various body systems with oxygen and energy that can greatly impact your overall mood and sense of well-being. Junk food will deplete your energy, and leave you feeling sluggish for the bulk of the day.

So often when we’re busy we forget to eat, and will then grab the quickest snack available without thinking of the impending effects of unhealthy eating. Snacking on a bowl of grapes, or some refreshing watermelon can bring an amazing boost to your morale and energy level. And don’t forget…along with all this healthy eating, keeping hydrated is also very important.

22.             Exercise

Along with healthy eating comes exercise. It needn’t be strenuous, this post isn’t about improving one’s bicep ratio!  A simple increase in heart rate will increase your endorphins giving you a natural feeling of happiness, and I do believe it’s the endorphins that give many avid exercise enthusiasts their momentum for endurance. Physical exercise and the increase in those endorphins can naturally increase mood positivity. Just 20 to 30 minutes each day should keep your spirits right at par with your endorphin level!

  23.  Treat Yourself Well

So now that the technical stuff is out of the way, ie healthy eating and exercise…it’s time to work on the internal stuff.  I was once told by someone during a very difficult time to wrap myself in a comfortable blanket, make myself a hot tea, or hot chocolate, (I guess wine could work too…. but only in moderation, as there is no happiness in a hangover!) and keep that blanket wrapped around you and treat yourself as you would treat someone else who seems to be under the weather.  Maybe when you were young, someone would make you homemade / or store-bought Chicken Soup?

Well, this is similar, the comfort of the soup or hot tea and blanket provides warmth and will put your body into a relaxing mode, and therefore release certain chemicals in your brain that will give you that comfort that you once believed could only be received from a significant other. We’ve all heard of the book ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’..well this collection of ‘good-feeling’ books is similar in nature to sitting back and treating yourself well. This was honestly my first step to internal happiness.  And it was a small piece of advice that I’ve carried with me for quite some time now, and it always works during times of unsettlement.

24. Take a Break from Social Media

As you’re relaxing, you may think to yourself that it is the perfect time to check in on social media, but you might want to try and resist, and depending on your cohort, this may prove to be more difficult for some than for others!  Remember, this time is about yourself and really not about your friends. It’s time you dedicated solely for yourself!

When you’re not at your happiest moment, seeing other’s perfectly portrayed lives on social media is enough to bring even the happiest person into a non-showering, non-hair brushing, stay in bed all day slump. If you are feeling depressed or down.. avoid, avoid, avoid..social media and watch a comedy or an intriguing drama instead!

25. Set that Movie Date Night for Yourself

Speaking of movies…. I have found that a dedicated night to just yourself and a really good movie can do wonders for your morale. Prepare some healthy snacks..and okay….maybe some popcorn too, and settle in for the night with one of your all-time favorite ‘turn-to’ movies when feeling down, or a movie you’ve been just dying to see and never did.

With the digital age, the way it is now, thousands of movies are right at your fingertips, and these movies can sometimes give you a greatly needed boost that can actually carry onto the next day. I personally find movies can be incredibly therapeutic and motivational, depending on genre.

26. Go out and Explore

This is my favorite tip of all, probably because it has always worked for me during times when I was feeling down. I have a few places that I like to walk to, and these walks lead me to places that are serene, peaceful, and just downright relaxing. If you have a waterfront, seawall, beach, or just a favorite park, I recommend bringing a blanket, a well-loved book, or magazine and just submit to the inner peace and happiness that is lurking from deep inside. Don’t allow negative thoughts or external problems to enter your mind.

Breathe in the fresh air, appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, be it nature, trees, the sea, or an urban paradise, and treat yourself like you are dating yourself. Enjoy this time, and enjoy the fact that this is YOUR life, and you are in charge of allowing yourself to be happy. And if you don’t have a time issue, then take your time there, pretend that you are taking a child or a pet to the park, you would do it for them right? Then take this time and do it for yourself. This is one of the most sure-fire ways of finding happiness.

27. Take Pictures of Beautiful Things

So you’re taking in the beauty around you, and taking advantage of all this free enjoyment, so why don’t you pull out the phone, or camera and snap a few photos? You never know…. you could find joy or even a hidden talent that you never knew you had! I personally love buildings, I take photos of them all the time…perhaps a little too many photos!

Maybe you like the rainfall, or puddles, flowers, landscape, or focus on your creative side and take some unique photos of whatever you fancy from various angles, and see what you come up with. Creativity is in all of us, but sometimes we just need a little nudge to remind us to go find it. If drawing is more your thing…then draw and draw some more… really lets your creativity just take over.

28. Write it all out

Speaking of creativity, have you ever thought of keeping a personal journal, or even a not-so personal journal, say your own blog perhaps? Writing can be cathartic, it can be a vessel to release pent-up emotions or frustration. If you write out all that is bothering you, it keeps your mind more organized and transfers your negative thoughts onto that paper, providing you the freedom to focus on positivity.

While you’re at it, if you have problems that need solutions, this is also a good time to brainstorm and throw ideas onto that paper that can offer a solution. I’ve often felt that my alone time and list writing have relieved ill feelings leaving more room for my new ventures into that space for internal happiness.

29. Declutter and Purge

Lastly, if you’ve made it this far, then you are ready to make some serious progress. And this progress starts with completely decluttering and cleaning your home, donating or recycling anything that you don’t need. A clean and clutter-free home is a clean and clutter-free mind. At least that’s how I’ve always felt. Sorry…yes another cliché! Be warned though… this may prove to be more challenging than it appears because if you are still feeling unhappy, and low on energy, then this step may be difficult to overcome.

But can you imagine how simultaneously relaxing and revitalizing a clean home can be? Pump up on those fruits, drink some water, juice, or splurge on a beverage of your choice…turn on the tunes, and get cleaning!  You will feel better once you start, and even better once you’ve finished!

Conclusion

So now that you’ve tried the steps above from eating healthy and regular exercise to embracing the spiritual side of yourself, it’s time to make all of this a regular part of your routine. If you can truly embrace the simple beauty around and within you, then you will be well on your way to internal happiness, solely reliant upon yourself. I found it. These are the steps I took, and I hope you can find the happiness you deserve as well. Happiness and fulfillment are within your grasp, but sometimes just out of reach. Understanding what works best for you is the first step in finding them more often.

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.