Tag Archives: avoidance

See Depresssion For What It Is – Part 1

5 Apr

Even if it’s unintentional, falling into a pattern of avoiding unpleasant or painful feelings and the situations that trigger them is a major cause of depression. (The Mindfulness & Acceptance Workbook for Depression. Strosahl, K.D. & Robinson, P.J. (14))

If you’ve ever suffered from depression, you know what can happen. Instead of getting out of the house and enjoying the weather, or talking a walk, or seeing friends, you would rather sit inside a small dark enclosed space (I always enjoyed utilizing my closet for this activity) and sleep. In fact, sleeping was an escape from depression for me. At least when I was sleeping (albeit I didn’t have nightmares or dream about the things that were bothering me), I could relax and my thoughts would stop for the moment. Being depressed is exhausting. It drains you of almost all the emotional energy you posses – and emotional exhaustion is just as intense as physical exhaustion. And when we’re exhausted, both physically and mentally, our body and mind just want to rest. Now – this is not always a bad thing. Our body and mind need rest to rejuvenate, heal and be ready to take on the situations that we are presented with daily. But too much rest can be a bad thing.

Case in point: Depression exhausts us. It’s much easier and much less tiring to stay inside, watch TV, sleep, moan, cry, etc. But this is one of the WORST things that you can do when you are depressed. It seems counter-intuitive, but going out, attempting to do things with friends and family, and otherwise just getting yourself out of the house, is exactly what you need in helping you to combat depression. When depressed, we try to avoid social situations of any kind because we believe that putting ourselves in those situations will only make us feel worse. What if we burst into tears? What if we have a panic attack or take out our anger on others? These are legitimate fears. But by avoiding these situations altogether, we are only allowing ourselves to sink deeper and deeper into our depressive state.

So how can we slowly, gently and carefully allow ourselves to move forward? Take things one step at a time. You don’t need to go to a concert with hundreds of people or a state fair with millions of screaming children if you’re already feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of venturing into the world. Maybe just take a trip to the store or visit a close friend. One of my favorite activities when I am feeling down is to go for a walk. I really enjoy walking the trails at the local state park and I find myself feeling better and better with each step I take. It may not seem like a lot at first, but it will help you feel better, and you will have more courage to take the next step in beating your depression.

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