I remember the moment I found out that Robin Williams passed away as if it was yesterday:
“It’s a sudden and tragic loss. He had suffered from depression lately,” they said.
Wealth, fame, and general recognition didn’t help my favorite actor, the individual with a keen view of life, beat his depression.
The majority of people suffering from depression don’t consider it necessary to visit a doctor. Women are two times more affected by this disease than men.
Still, we shouldn’t consider ourselves depressed every time we feel sad or emotionally low. At the same time, if we see that our sadness becomes deeper and darker, and if relaxing weekends or emotional restarts are not able to save us from burnouts at work, then it’s high time to take a deeper look at things.
I had the bad luck of experiencing emotional burnouts at work, feeling that I was close to developing a serious mental illness. I am surprised that many continue to believe in (the) healing properties of work addiction, suggesting such things as:
“Go and work!” or “Do something, and you’ll have no time to grieve.”
How often do we hear this kind of advice while experiencing real fatigue or feeling lost and apathetic?
Ernest Hemingway considered work “the most important thing in life which distracts from every misfortune” and said that it “cures almost anything.” I do respect Mr. Hemingway, but I am curious about what he did when work was the reason for his depression.
Did the principle of fighting fire with fire help him?
When I experienced emotional burnout, I felt that I had no other alternative but to turn over a new leaf, so I moved to another city.
Your leaf might be different: someone quits a job, someone else takes a vacation, and another decides to take a pass on new projects. It’s hard to say what would work for each person, but the following options can help to minimize stress levels:
1. Delegate tasks. Do you believe being busy helps you become well-liked? It’s not true. Don’t hesitate to delegate tasks when possible.
2. Say “no” and hold your ground. It saves from deep drowning at work and helps to realize how often you agree to things without thinking of consequences.
3. Find time to follow your inclinations. At least one day should be devoted to hobbies or other relaxing activities.
Always correlate work with your desired goal. Don’t trust your inner voice trying to persuade you that it could be worse. Don’t compare yourself to those working “more” than you, and don’t assume that you can or should do the same. When stressed, we can do our best to nip this problem in the bud, starting with taking breaks, trying meditation, playing sports, sleeping well, and other self-care methods.
We all grasp for any chance to live a happy life, starting small or even applying the chemistry of human emotions to fighting our burnouts; the problem is that many of us are self-reliant fellows who consider themselves too smart to ask for help. Chances are we’ll rely on motivational life hacks from the Internet than confess we have a problem that is impossible to solve single-handedly.
I know what I’m talking about because I was that kind of smart-a**, but the fear of stepping over the point of no return spurred me into action and got me thinking about the nature of my sadness.
Our sadness can be light and short, relating to some negative moments of life, or it can be longstanding, disturbing us from essential parts of our lives like our work and relationships.
The first step we need to take to solve the issues connected to depression is to admit to how much it’s affecting our well-being. Usually, by the time we are ready to admit the problem, it becomes too late to solve it all alone. It is the very point of no return when all those tips about grooming and exercising stop working. Our thought patterns then become something like this:
“I try so hard to follow advice. I use my physical and psychological abilities to the max. I work a lot, pulling the devil by the tail, but that’s all in vain…Well, it seems I don’t try hard enough. More work is what can help.”
Falsely assuming that hard work can help us deal with stress, we turn this stress into emotional burnout and, thereby, take one step closer to the jaws of a creepy and omnivorous “monster, the thing that must not be named—depression!” Do you ask how I was able to beat it? It wasn’t easy, and only complete acceptance and an emotional restart helped me escape medical intervention.
We all fear it like the devil fears holy water.
First and foremost, you must admit the problem exists. Most people find it hard to do. They think of themselves as too busy or weak to change something.
But here’s the thing: neither statement is true.
Write down all of the factors causing your stress. Be honest. Come up with several ideas on how you could have less stress. We all are gurus of ignoring stress, and that’s why spelling out its details is the first chance to signal our brains to get the foot in the door.
Find the stress source, then ask for help. It’s difficult to do, especially for those refusing to confess they can’t solve the problem alone. It doesn’t mean we are stupid, useful, or incapable. We must then admit that we need help and understand why we need it. Think about who could help us best—for me, it was my mother and sister.
Sometimes we don’t ask for help because we are scared that we will get rejected, but we also have to remember that people enjoy helping others, as it makes them feel needed, so there is a good possibility that those who really care will say yes to helping you. And once we admit the problem and find those ready to help us, the next step follows—emotional restart.
The worst thing about depression is the sense of losing ourselves. We have to find a way to go beyond that and do our thing.
When we are stressed, we need to admit the problem.
When we are burnt out, we can ask for help and think of good way to emotionally restart.
Follow your path and don’t focus on others. Don’t let depression knock your door down.
Author: Emily Johnson
Image: Sodanie Chea at Flickr
Editors: Renée Picard; Cat Beekmans / Apprentice Editor: Tess Estandarte