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Things can and will get better. As someone with over 30 years experience with depression, here are my tips.
- Step back and look at yourself from the outside, like you are another person. Now see yourself as your little brother or sister, who you love with all your heart and would do anything for. How would you cheer your little sibling up?
- Develop a list of Coping Strategies. I literally put mine on the wall titled “in moments of despair, do these things…” My list includes:
- Drink lots of water.
- Eat a big delicious meal of healthy food.
- Go for a walk.
- Get some sunshine.
- Phone a friend or family member.
- Read a book.
- Go to the movies (preferably comedy).
- Play a computer game.
- Note in particular the first 5 in the list above. You cannot underestimate the awesome power of the big 5: Food, Water, Air, Sunshine and Love. Any one of these by themselves can improve your mood. Try loading up on multiple items for a sure-fire mood change.
- I also adopted this motto: “when depressed, rest!” It is not always the right thing to do, but it often is.
- Learn about serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good. You can boost it with carbohydrates (choose healthy options if possible), walking, reading, prayer, and meditation.
- Learn about state. Tony Robbins talks about it a lot, look it up on YouTube. You can change your emotional state by changing your physical state. If you stand up tall and fake a smile or a laugh, you will literally enter the emotional state that would normally produce those physical effects – happiness! And the smile or laugh won’t be fake then.
- Depression is typically a product of a subconscious fear of failure, which is a good fear to overcome. You can overcome fear of failure by understanding that success almost always comes after multiple failures. It is very, very rare for anyone to succeed at something first go. When our band first played we had all kinds of technical problems, we sucked, and it was embarrassing. But we persevered and got good. Stand-up comedians often bomb their first time up. In the space industry they have a saying: “failure is not an option – it’s a requirement“. The Falcon 1 failed 3 times before its first successful flight! What did Michael Jordan say? “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
My theory is that people who are depressed are actually extremely awesome and talented people who are sensitive to what others think, and picked up some negative memes about themselves from their surrounding environment. You should not assume that the society in which you live is sane, or even that your parents, teachers, government, the people who make TV shows, or any other so-called authority is sane. If you feel bad because of things other people said, realise that they may secretly hate themselves, or are stupid, or have a vested interest, and you should not listen to them. Listen to me! I think you are unique, wonderful and brilliant, and have so much magic and potential inside you that it boggles the mind, and when you wake up to this reality and realise you not only should but actually have a duty to make the world better by shining your light and sharing your amazing uniqueness, everything will change for you. Not overnight, sure. It’s a journey. But think like a soldier on a mission. Get tough, and get it done. The more you express who you are without fear, the more people will be attracted to you, and this will cheer you up a LOT.
Meditate every day, ideally twice. It rewires your brain for happiness. This has been scientifically proven, look it up.
Last but not least – I leave this until last because of the haters – talk to God. He is like a friend inside your mind, all the time. Go to church if you feel inclined, because church people are typically very open and accepting, and whether you believe the doctrine or not, it can feel really nice (and be very healing) to be part of a group like that. They have a lot of social activities where you can make friends who will care about you. Failing that, get into role-playing games. They are social and fun, too.
There’s a quote that I always go back to: “life doesn’t get better: you get better”. The years have taught me that this is true.
The thing about life is that you have countless options. They may be scary, yeah. But you know what’s even scarier? Not having any. That’s what death does to you, and that’s why it is important to seek help.
Overcoming depression is a process, and not an easy one. It requires time and treatment just like any other illness. Tell a family member, a friend, the internet, anyone who cares – sometimes it seems like nobody gives a damn but that’s just not true. There are hotlines you can call with people behind the line who know better than I do. They will guide you and support you, but ultimately is up to you to learn to love and handle life (whether it is through therapy, medication or rough practice).
Take baby steps but never stop walking. Don’t look back, focus on the present and celebrate every tiny victory. Find things that you enjoy and embrace them, don’t let them go. Always be honest to yourself and to others – sometimes talking about the things that hurt is the only way to stop them from hurting.
I’m not a mental health professional by any means. This is all based on my personal experience overcoming depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. I really hope this helps you. I wish someone had told me all this back then.
And remember: great things await you in the other side of the fence.
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I was depressed. I didn’t want to be awake, but I didnt want to sleep. I didn’t want to do anything ever, and I wished I could just die.
contrary to many people’s stories, I never got help. And yet one day, after months of crushing bleakness, I felt a bit better. The next day I felt better again. Over about two Weeks, I felt better every day until I felt perfectly normal. And I still feel perfectly normal.
Get help. I’m not saying I advocate not getting help – absolutely get help. But I am saying that what’s wrong with you is a physical thing in your brain. I was lucky – the chemical imbalance inside me just seemed to switch back to normal, and that could happen to you. In fact, if you get help and kickstart the fixing, it very much could happen to you. Talk to somebody, anybody, call a helpline, find a counsellor.
It can go away, it can get better.
There are numerous people in my SGI chapter who have succeeded in getting much better by adding the use of the “greatest secret human power” as taught by the Soka Gakkai International.
There doesn’t seem to be a concensus of researcher opinions about what causes any of the varieties of depression.
The medications often have side effects.
The SGI is not focused on psychology, or psychiatry, but on wellness of mind-body, and helping others.
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Depression is clinical. It can be lifelong. However, there are ways of managing it. That is what you should live for. The good moments in life. They will come. That’s why you needn’t kill yourself. Life is a selfish act and people are selfish too. Learn to stick around. You will learn to be your own advocate. I can’t guarantee there won’t be any more rainy days but it took me a while to realize now more than ever that I would rather be here. I deserve to be here. Alive and selfish. You do too. Don’t listen to the voices in your head and know you can always ask for help.
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