The following article, "Depression - You Can Feel Better!" is the beginning chapter to Don't Make Depression Your Disability, written by Bobbie Ratcliff. Bobbie has given us a way to look at life that can turn our lives around for the better. Having sustained an injury and subsequent, illness, pain and disability, Bobbie has experienced first hand the extreme down side of disability. Bobbie and Anne, his wife of 24 years, have made their journey together which has brought them to this place and time. Now he has shared their remarkable, yet simple, everyday solutions, their "Cookbook for a Healthy Emotional Diet." With humor and humanity, he persuades us to make the most of life with his self-enlightened ideas to cope with illness and disability. Check back soon here at New Horizons Un-Limited for more chapters of his exciting article!
If there is any symptom that all illnesses or disabilities share, be it psychological or physical, it's depression! Many of us who face change, hardship of life or suffer from uncontrollable pain from illness or disability will inevitably deal with depression. With ratings between 1 and 10, one's pain can be as slight as a pinprick or severe enough to loose consciousness to cause depression. Like the physical disability or chronic illness that we now face on a daily basis, depression is one more symptom that's shared by one and all.
Caring physicians offer medications, empathetic psychologists listen with educated intellect, while family and friends show their loving concern as they, too, share in the frustration with the suffering that often exceeds the disability itself.
If you're seeking for a way to alleviate, dissipate, or eliminate those hours, weeks and months of feeling downright lousy, there is a restoration, remedy and cure. Depression can be a thing of the past, and no longer your daily companion. It can be gutted from your life, once and for all.
In order to eradicate any symptoms of depression, one must first define, diagnose, and recognize it for what it is. Only then can an effective therapy plan be formulated for each and every sufferer, great or small, with mild or severe symptoms.
Definition: Sometimes depression is a way you feel when you just don't feel the way you use to feel. To feel depressed is to feel disharmonious with oneself, an experience of sadness that exceeds just how bad it really is, our inner core eroding into itself.
Diagnosis: To obtain a diagnosis one must undergo a process of subjective observations by both professional and caring participants on how one feels. This process usually entails a thorough and comparative analysis of patterns, old and new. It always includes observations of physical and verbal communications and a whole lot of gut instinct. Most often, it's the person themselves who know, plain and simple, the severity of their suffering.
All too often, I've seen ill and disabled people seek attentive physicians who immediately start a pharmaceutic therapy solution as soon as feelings of melancholy appear on the horizon. Filling shelves that line our drugstores, medicines abound that ease or eliminate. It's easy to see why even well trained doctors become firm believers in prescribing just one more pill.
Now please don't disregard the importance of utilizing the services of highly trained medical professionals, but instead, see them as a part of the solution to a healthier state of mind, not the whole. In many instances that care is a starting point to future wellness.
Evaluate the abilities within yourself to help yourself, because you might just be surprised at the healing powers within. Sometimes it's only when the need is greatest that the inner self can most clearly understand the areas of your life that are stopping you from loving every single minute without the dragging force of depression.
Recognition: This comes to us when we find ourselves in a state in which we just can't stand feeling this darn lousy one more minute! It's when the days stretch out with hopelessness and the nights go on forever; it's when we know that something has got to change, and the time is NOW! When you understand in full the invasive force of emotional darkness, you'll start your walk towards the light.
Making headway: There is help! There is a solution! You can make all those morbid feelings of worthlessness and emptiness erode into nothing more than a bad day, yesterday. Today can be brighter and filled with purpose for no other reason than, "Today's always worth something, if we're willing to give or find value in it." You're in it! That in itself makes it special! Now, it's what you decide to do with this day that's going to make today count, so let's start doing some math.
The best prescription I've found, and hopefully you'll find too, for ridding yourself once and all from depression is:
We're all guilty of it. I sure know that I am. Whenever we seem to have an extra minute or two, our minds inevitably seem to focus on whatever is going on, in, with, or around ourselves. It's a topic of which we just can't seem to get enough. Of course, there really can't be anything much more interesting than me - or is there? Self-care and ego are two mighty close neighbors. Caring for ourselves, so we can care about others, is humanism. Ego unchecked can mutate into caring more about only "one", "me." "Me" can fuel the fires of depression hotter than any other fuel source.
Tomorrow morning when you get up, the first thing you'll say to that spouse, family member, friend, or even God is, "How are you doing today?" You will not ask yourself how you're feeling or doing. That's a no-no! You will not make any type of subtle inquiry facing inward. Tomorrow you're not going to care about you. Instead, you'll let others have that joy. You see, the same pleasure and jubilance you experience in caring about others goes both ways! Allowing others to care about you is just as beneficial to them as it is for you to care about them.
Amazing isn't it! When we care about others, our whole body seems to care more about us. It's supposed to. That's how it all works. With endorphins rushing throughout, newfound energies, and lust for life will replace those down-turned, dog-eared feelings of sadness and despair. Even as I type, experts in white lab coats are running around test cases as they tabulate the positive effects of care and love for others.
When we give of ourselves, we inevitably find ourselves on the receiving end as well. This symbiotic relationship allows us to enjoy one another's company, another's amazing thought processes, morality, wellness of spirit and overall goodness. This is a sure fire way to set off what I call the "Domino Endorphin Effect," and all it takes is to care about someone else, more than you do yourself. Best part is - everyone wins!
2: Care with all your heart about others: No matter what your health condition is, tomorrow you will figure out a way to show your love and caring heart for someone else, but it's one thing to say it, another to show it.
Inactivity is a killer. We must work our hearts both emotionally and physically. It doesn't matter what part of your body improperly functions, so long as you keep moving the parts that still can get up and get out.
If you're like me, you now reside in the classification of being 100% disabled. The United States Government, Department of Social Security has determined it, and your body is always around to remind you of it. In all probability, you will remain gainfully unemployed for the rest of your life. So now, you've got to figure out what to do with this newly discovered time. Instead of seeing your disability as disabling, I propose that you view it as the greatest opportunity to become more of the person you've always wanted to be. Now is the time, this very moment, to show others your appreciation, love, and care. Give of yourself from this day forward in brand new ways never dreamed of before; your heart will love you for it.
On those days when the body just can't seem to get out of park, you can always take your brain for a walk.
3: Exercise the mind: Have you ever given much thought about the importance of taking care of that gray matter between your ears? You know the brain? Advantages in exercising our mind are just as important as any other bodily system, part, or muscle. At least that's what the experts keep reminding me. And you know what? I think they might just be right! Best part to mental exercise is that the mind has no place to seed its weeds of despair and sadness.
Between local libraries, dozens of educational and informational TV networks, not to mention the Internet, we've got a bottomless supply of worthwhile informational not to mention inspirational material at our disposal. No interest is too wide or small, because if you can name it, someone has something to share that you can't wait to know. By taking those neurons between your ears for a dance, you won't have time to sing the blues.
As you stroll down the information highway, try to keep your eyes peeled for more ways to give of yourself, because that computer can be loaded up with all sorts of newer and better ways for you to "give till it feels good." Sure-fire ways to blow away the clouds that linger overhead and prevent sunny days are just a mouse click away.
4: Bad is not really quite so bad after all: As nutty as it sounds, within some parameters, there are times when good old-fashioned depression is actually good for us. And no, (I am not kidding) my medications have kicked in for the day.
When carefully controlled, depression can be an ideal vehicle in which to direct our thoughts and energies towards issues and concerns that warrant some extra attention and direction. It's a roadway that we can drive down as we evaluate and contemplate where we're at, and where we still need to go, but please be careful as you navigate, contemplate, evaluate, and medicate. This is only a path to go down from time-to-time, and not to be driven on a daily basis, since depression out of check, leads only to inward destruction.
Whatever you do, don't let depression depress you. Remember, depression is one thing, so long as you don't forget to live the blessed life you've been given while thanking those who are a product of it. If you're not prudent in acknowledging the reasons for feeling the blues, you'll inevitably be headed right back down the road that inevitably leads to nowhere but sadness.
Everyone who experiences unexpected changes in what their normal lives were following an accident, diagnosis, serious illness or life-altering physical disability, must go through the various stages of grief and sorrow. During this evolution, many psychotropic pharmaceutic solutions may ease or mask the symptoms, but rarely actually cure them. To medicate oneself through the feelings of depression at too early a stage will only mask issues, not cure them. Future wellness necessitates us working through all the steps of denial, anger, withdrawal, and acceptance in whatever order suits us best, since they are all emotional states we eventually will go through, like it or not.
Then, like it or not, some days we just can't help but feel a little punk, and from time-to-time that's O.K. too. Due to situations totally out of our control, people fighting illness and disabilities like us, deal with just a little more than what the rest of our healthy counterparts call normal, daily life. For exactly that reason we might just find ourselves a wee off center in the emotionally healthy category. Accept "it." Work with "it," but don't let "it" become the reason for depression.
The importance in maintaining good emotional health cannot be overstated as we battle daily the ravages of illness and disabilities alike. No matter what the cost, you and those you love and care for are worth all your energies and efforts. We owe it to them, because they're worth it. We owe it to ourselves, because we're worth it.
Keeping the ravages of depression away, as we apply all our efforts, can be a full time job, harder than anything we've ever faced before. Some days will inevitably be harder than others as we fight physical deterioration, on-going illnesses, not to mention all the rest of life's challenges we will face, compared to what we use to call normal. Yet, we continue to hang on tight with all our might and effort.
DEPRESSION IS BEATABLE. Life is not supposed to be lived with sadness and gloom. By taking each day as a gift instead of as an entitlement, the value and purpose in each moment we're given can be spent with a smile, instead of a frown, and life's a whole lot more enjoyable and easier that way.
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