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September 17, 2014

7 Steps from Depression into the Light. ~ Kelli Prieur

Photo: Bon Adrien/flickr

*Eleditor’s note: This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual. It is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment.

I found myself swimming neck deep in that old familiar sea of depression after four months of around-the-clock vomiting.

Vast and all-encompassing, it plowed through me like the tsunami that rocked my body with this new pregnancy; hitting with such brute force that it knocked me on my ass and left me there, down and depressed, stagnant and stuck for months.

There have been phases in my life when I’ve anticipated a visit, but this time, I didn’t expect depression to come knocking.

We’d planned this pregnancy, and I knew I may get severely sick; I was out for the count for months with my first child—it was a chance I was willing to take, again. But still, here I was, months in, having one of the roughest times of my life, even though I imagined it would be one of the happiest.

Looking back, it’s clear to see how I slipped.

Constantly nauseated, I became unable to cope with anything that involved me getting off the couch. I stopped teaching, I stopped practicing, I stopped writing, stopped seeing friends and connecting with the people I love, who love me. I went into lock-down trying to just get through the storm, and in the process I got stuck, really, really stuck in the darkest parts of myself.

It was like being trapped in a vicious, never-ending cycle with the nausea leading me to become increasingly stagnant. The hours of doing nothing but laying around trying not to puke my guts out made me feel increasingly empty and sad. Although I’d been here before, and although I had this beautiful light of a life growing inside me, for ages I just couldn’t seem to find my way out of the dark depressive pit.

I knew I had to make some shifts, but taking steps towards getting back into the flow of my life, getting back into writing, getting my armoured body back into my yoga practice, getting on top of my to do list that was now totally out of control after months of pretending that it didn’t exist felt way too overwhelming. Every time I even thought of putting pen to paper, or stepping on my mat, or taking steps towards a goal on my bucket list, I believed the voice in my head telling me that I wasn’t strong enough to move through it and get anything done.

Instead of un-sticking myself from the quicksand, I found myself continually feeding into the ferocious inertia gulping up my life. I stayed heavy and empty and stuck until I realised that if I wanted this veil of depression to lift, I was going to have to be the one to lift it.

So here’s what’s been working for me. Nothing complicated, nothing crazy time consuming, just everyday practices that have helped me find my way back into the light again; perhaps they can help you, too:

1. Walk.

Stirring up motivation can be hard work, start with something relatively easy.

This is where I started. My first step towards pulling myself back into the flow of living my life was to get out of the house.

Chances are, you’re not going to feel like it. Regardless of the reasons why you don’t feel like leaving the house—you don’t have the right shoes, it’s raining or too cold or too hot, you feel like shit, or because you just really, really don’t feel like it—do it anyways.

Make it your mission to overcome that resistance.

Go get some fresh air and breathe in how much better you feel. Even a short walk. I started by aiming for 20 minutes, will work wonders in shifting your perspective, clearing your mind and boosting your mood.

2. Get on Top of Your Space.

Putting a load of dishes on, making the bed, or getting the laundry put away definitely isn’t on the top of the list of things we feel like tackling when we’re feeling down and depressed; I know, because I didn’t feel like doing any of those, or the other daily chores that comprise the running of my life either. For weeks I let everything pile up, just getting by with doing the absolute minimum—dinner was made but there were dirty dishes on the counter, the laundry was clean but it was in stacks on the dining room table. Simply being in my home was beginning to stress me out and make me feel even more depressed.

Letting myself off the clean-up-my-space hook felt gratifying in the moment, but in the long run it was only making me feel more out of control, cluttered and disorganised.

So, with that energy I got from the hit of fresh air on my walk, I tidied up the kitchen, put a load of laundry on and made my bed that first day. Use that energy you cultivated with your walk. You may find that it still takes a little bit of self-cheerleading to do the chores, but notice how much easier it is to take that step towards getting back into the flow now that you’ve already set the wheels in motion.

3. Exercise.

Did you know it reduces depression?

According to “The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook,” it also reduces insomnia, helps release frustration, and increases energy, self-esteem and feelings of well-being.

Start off slow—a short run, a little bike ride, a mini practice—but make exercise part of your daily routine. If you’re finding it hard to choose an activity because you just don’t feel like doing anything really, go back and try the activities that used to bring you joy, or branch out and try those activities that you’ve always wanted to have a go at.

Whatever you choose to do, be mindful to ease yourself into it; there’s nothing more deterring than starting out with a goal that’s way too large. It’s like attempting to run a marathon before training for the race—it’s not going to be an experience that’s going to leave you wanting to come back for more.

4. 10 Minutes of Draining Out Your Brain.

When we’re in a depressive rut our homes aren’t the only thing that tends to become cluttered and crammed up. Unfortunately, our minds can generate the same state of claustrophobia, filled with the repetitive, negative, self-deprecating thoughts so characteristic of depression.

When you’re already trying to make your way in everyday life through the fog of depression, it really isn’t helpful to add mental clutter to the plate. Thing is, we can’t think clearly when we literally have no space to think, and you need to be thinking clearly if you want to pull yourself out from this darkness and back out into the light.

Depression is so powerful that we need to be completely alert if we want to escape it’s sticky paws.

So, sit down and write and watch what happens. Write about whatever comes to mind, write without judgement, without the intention of ever reading it again, or of ever showing it to anyone. Spill your heart out. Get everything that’s weighing you down off your chest, and notice how turning thoughts into words helps lighten your load.

5. Connect with the People Who Love You.

When we’re suffering from depression we can feel pretty alienated and alone. It’s incredibly important, even though we may feel extremely resistant, to get out and reconnect with those people who love and support us.

It’s in those moments of struggle and challenge, where we tend to turn inwards, that it’s most beneficial to reach out. Losing connection to those closest to us will only make us feel even more disconnected and depressed.

Maintain and feed those relationships that sustain and support you.

6. Make it Your Daily Mission to Cross Off One of Your “To Do’s.”

It’s not leading a stress-free life devoid of responsibilities or things to get done that brings us happiness, or pulls us out of the dark well of depression, but leading a life full of purpose just might.

Spend some time getting clear on what it is you want out of your life, and then break down the steps to get there.

What makes you happy? How can you bring that back into your life? Make yourself a list of the “to do’s” to create that vision, adding on any of your daily “need-to-get-done’s.” Dedicate yourself to continually, on a daily basis, taking steps towards crossing off these “to do’s” and stepping closer to your goals.

Remember, from little things, big things grow.

7. Stay in the Flow by Creating a Healing Routine.

How we start our day sets the tone for how the rest of the day unfolds.

Start your day off with a clean slate before you’ve even hit up social media. Take this time to get any receptive thoughts, worries, or concerns, or whatever else needs to come out, out. Make this emptying out a priority.

Do a quick tidy on your space. Once we get in the flow of keeping things clean, maintaining that level of cleanliness takes minimal effort. Make your bed, put away the clutter, have the heart of the home, the kitchen, cleaned up so you don’t feel intimidated to nourish yourself.

From here, cover the basics well. Make sure you’re feeding yourself food that actually feeds and fuels you. Jump in the shower and put fresh clothes on to get ready for the day. Sounds basic, but making sure you’re well fed and feeling fresh will make a huge difference to your day.

Get outside. Go for a walk, have a swim, rollerblade, jog, whatever floats your boat, but get some natural light and some fresh air into those lungs and feel your endorphin levels rise.

Cross something off your to go list and connect with someone you love.

Remember, it takes time and effort to create change. If you stick to your routine, if you keep plugging away doing your work, reconnecting to yourself, to what makes you happy, and to life in general, you will, without a doubt, over time, start to feel happier. You will create the shift you’re after, you have to keep putting in the effort, day after day after day.

From here, make sure you stay in the flow.

Even when we’re met with resistance, even when we feel like giving into the dark, heavy cloak of depression instead of getting outside, or getting the blood pumping, or the words flowing, or the goal-achieving under way, stick to your healing routine anyways.

Trust that you can do this. Trust that with persistence, you have the power to pull yourself out of the sticky web of depression, because, you do…

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Apprentice Editor: Alicia Wozniak / Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Bon Adrien at Flickr 

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