Most of us have been working from home since March, 2020. Initially, I was very excited to be home. I am a home body. I could be in my PJs, cook two meals a day, engage with my children, maybe get a workout and get my work done. I felt like a superhero. By August, 2020, I came to the realization that I felt resentful throughout the day. I wasn’t getting much work done; being in my PJs was not exciting; and my children were not all that fun. I would wake up uttering, “Holy crap, I can’t believe it’s morning again.” I heard similar stories from my friends and clients. I started to wonder – What is happening here? What does this mean? What’s showing up for so many of us?
There are two ways of thinking about depression. As a culture, we throw the word depression around in a very frivolous manner. However, in many other ways, we shy away from thinking about depression in its clinical manner. It’s almost a word that is normalized as a daily expression and at the same time, carry extreme stigma in our culture. So, how can we identify depression and how can we work towards getting some help?
As with any mental health diagnosis, depression can be experienced on a spectrum. In other words, depression can be felt anything between lack of motivation to feeling clinically depressed that can lead to suicide ideation and attempt. In pop culture we have normalize depression as just sadness. It may be true that in this pandemic, as we endure isolation, we carry a little bit of sadness. However, there are other ways in which depression shows up. Here are some of the ways:
- Lack of interest in any activity or anyone
- Loss of pleasure
- Lack of motivation
- Negative thoughts
- Suicide Ideation
Recognizing that depression does not show up in one particular way is key to understanding how we are able to manage our depression.
How can we change our relationship with depression? Here are some ways that can help:
- Movement: Research shows that when we keep moving, we are able to manage our depression. So, in this pandemic, go for a short walk, step outside your home and take a deep breath, go grocery shopping, stretch, put on your favorite song and dance to it and play with your kids.
- Positive affirmations: Research shows that our brains are hard-wired for negativity and it gets compounded by anxiety and depression. Our brain works via repetition. If we repeat our negative thoughts, we endorse them and our brain adapts to them. Therefore, when a negative thought arises, replace it with a positive affirmation, such as, I hear you and I would like to take my power back.
- Anti-depressants: Research shows that anti-depressants in conjunction with psychotherapy works well in managing depression. In our culture, there is tremendous stigma around mental health medications. Make sure you do what works for you.
- Talk to a therapist: Therapists are trained to work with you. Don’t be shy or fearful about approaching a therapist. Most of us are in this profession to help in a non-judgmental and empathetic way.
Finally, let’s acknowledge that this has been an extremely challenging year for all of us. Instead of being “fast and furious” about it, let us change to being “slow and curious”. Being mindful of our mental and physical wellbeing is essential to our communal wellbeing and vice versa.