In the late 1970’s, Pink Floyd released an album called “The Wall”. It was a giant hit for the band and then a few years later, a movie was released and the songs we heard on the radio like, “Another Brick in the Wall”, “Hey You”, “Comfortably Numb”, and “Run Like Hell” took on a new meaning. It seems that lead singer of the band, Roger Waters, suffered through depression and the meaning of “The Wall” was the symbol of the trap he had built around him during his depression. The rest of the songs describe either stones that built that wall or his suffering.
In 2012, when I was battling depression, I called it the hole that I buried all my memories of childhood bullying in and that I couldn’t see the ladder in the dark to get out for a long time. So, it only made sense to me that when I wrote my memoir about my struggle with the long-term effects of youth bullying, I called my book “A Ladder In The Dark”. Roger had his wall and I had my hole.
I know others that call their depression their bed, their locked room, and their dark place. But we all have a name for it, don’t we? Why do we do that? I believe it is to give this unexplainable feeling of emptiness we are going through a physical description, because no words adequately describe the desolation, the isolation, and the pain (yes pain) of a depression.
We believe we are going crazy and that our life that was is over. We can read so much about depression, but when it’s happening to you, all that reading goes out the window as that isolation sinks in. I had all my family and friends around me, but I was still stuck in the hole.
So how do we get unstuck?
We make a conscious choice to battle ourselves and find ways to have small victories over this thing that has grasped us so tight. If you do not want to do battle with the demon called depression and you don’t believe you can conquer what your mind is telling you, feel free to stop reading now. I have nothing further to offer you.
But, if you stay with me now, I’ll at least offer my learning lessons while overcoming depression.
- First you must admit that which you don’t want to, that you are dealing with a mental illness. We feel we will be stigmatized. We feel like we are not right in the head. But, since 20% of the population is dealing with some form of depression at any time according to the studies, we are dealing with a normal illness. Remember, it is an illness.
- Once you know what you didn’t know, you have to remember that you are the cure and that you have to take the first step. For some this means a visit to a psychiatrist or a therapist or even a life coach. These choices are ones you need to consider and rationalize what will work best for you. Do you want to take medication as part of your recovery? Do you want to try to go it without? These are your options. But seek the help of professionals who are just waiting for you to ask for help. YOU HAVE TO ASK!
- Realize the “cure” is probably a way off and will require a lot of work and time. I think it’s good to also remember that, like alcoholism, we who deal with depression have a possibility of recurrence, so once you feel better, you still have to keep working so that it doesn’t come back.
- Finally, be brave, be strong, be ready to change your lifestyle to help you live a healthier life that will help both your body and brain in the end.
In my story, this meant changing three major habits that I had to embrace.
- Nutrition – There is actually food that helps your brain stay more positive and no, it’s not at a fast food place. Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and so many others. Did I like these foods when I decided that I had to change my diet? Not really. Do I like them now? Oh yes, because food has a direct connection to your brain and body and has been proven in science.
- Exercise – I was never an athlete and really found little enjoyment in exercise. But again, proven science told me if I wanted to get better, I better start with exercise, because this immediately sends endorphins to your brain, which is a leading cause of positive thinking for your brain.
- Mindfulness – Oh no, it’s that weird word again. What the heck is mindfulness? Well, you can think of it as training your brain to start thinking of life again as being a glass half full instead of half empty. There are so many ways to practice mindfulness. Positive journaling, yoga, meditation, a walk in nature, breathing techniques. The list goes on and on. Everyone finds their own way with this one. For me, I love positive journaling, where I write three good things each day.
You can change the name of your depression if you want to. For a long time, I didn’t want to, but then the fog lifted. My ladder appeared in the hole and I escaped the trap that I set for myself. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, we created that place, whether it be a wall, a hole, or a room. We can also tear it down, just as happens at the end of the Pink Floyd “The Wall” album. At the end of the album, we hear the wall crash down as Roger Waters faced his demon of depression. For me, it was a Ladder In The Dark that let me escape.
We can all escape, but it is our journey to get there. I hope in some way my few thoughts here help you out too. You deserve to live the life you want as did I and you can. Be strong and fight for yourself, for you are your best advocate.
Founder/Managing Director – Bullying Recovery, LLC
Founder/Managing Director – Bullying Recovery, LLC