What is circumstantial depression? It’s depression resulting from circumstances that have happened to you. This post is about that kind of depression.
We all have highs and lows in life. For a while our life can seem nice and easy – everything is going just right, then bam, something extremely difficult happens – we, or someone we love dearly gets a not-so-hopeful health diagnosis. Our car breaks down and we don’t have the money to fix it. We lose our job. Painful family dysfunction. The list goes on.
I have learned over the years to push through these times and eventually it passes and things are sunny and happy again.
But sometimes it seems our entire life is falling apart and there’s no hope because multiple devastating things are happening at once. I have been in this place for the past few months. Usually I am strong and push through knowing it will pass. This time though, has probably been the most difficult in my life. I thought I was pushing through but then realized I had been crying long periods every day for more than a few months. I just wanted to sleep. I didn’t want to be me, going through these things – they are just too painful. I’ve felt exhausted and with no hope for the future. I felt depressed.
I’ve had small bouts of circumstantial depression in my life and it always passed. This time it had been going on for too long and I was getting concerned that I wouldn’t be able to break it because the things going wrong in my life are not getting any better.
Four days ago I’d had enough. I decided I was not going to walk around like a depressed crying zombie anymore and I could not wait for circumstances to get better, because there’s a chance they may not. We can’t rely on circumstances to make us feel better. It has to come from within.
From my previous short bouts of depression I had learned some things that helped me break it.
The first thing is to live in the now. Stop worrying about what the future holds and regretting what happened in the past. Usually the future does not turn out as bad as we think it will and there’s nothing we can do about what happened in the past. Enjoy the moment we have in front of us because it’s all we have. Also, it is how we are living this moment that makes our life what it is. If we want a good life, we have to choose to do everything we can to make all the moments we have as good as we can, even when things are going very wrong. All those moments add up to your entire life. We don’t want to spend our moments worrying and negative, although we should always feel what we are feeling and never stuff it down. But we can get into a cycle of unnecessary worry and negativity – we need to look at ourselves and figure out if we’ve gone into a cycle, rather than feeling what we are feeling. Chances are if we’ve been doing the same routine of crying and worrying for more than a few days, we’ve developed a cycle and we need to break it before we become depressed.
The next thing is regarding worry. Being in a constant state of worry is an awful feeling. For some reason we think it helps things, but it doesn’t. It can actually make things worse because it makes us feel so bad that we are not open to possibilities and solutions. What I learned in the past is to allow myself a designated time to worry. Maybe every night at 7pm, allow yourself to worry for 15-30 minutes, but after that, you are not allowed to worry. Whenever a worry comes to mind tell yourself you can worry about it at 7pm tonight. What I have found is I forget about my designated time to worry, so I have not been worrying at all. This has been such a relief! And even if I was remembering my designated time to worry, I know I’d still feel relieved because I’m not allowing myself to entertain the worries as they come up many times each day. When they do come up, I tell myself that I can worry about it at the designated time. It truly works.
Another thing I started doing is writing a gratitude list. This has helped me see that there are still parts of my life that are working. In the deep depression I was feeling, I didn’t think anything was working. Even if nothing is working, there’s still good things that happen through the day – a compliment, a hug, a smile, a beautiful sunrise or sunset, a rainbow, a good meal. Write down everything you can think of. It helps you see life in a better way than you have been seeing it.
I’m also doing my best to counter any negative thinking. Some horrible thought will come up and I will tell myself that usually things don’t turn out as badly as I think it will. Any time I think a negative thought I try to turn it to a positive or counter it.
Lastly, I believe in God, so I repeat verses of God’s promises in my head that relate to what I’m going through. Why ye worry oh ye of little faith? This is one that always helps calm me down. There are many others that are helpful and if you believe in God, I urge you to look up verses that help soothe you in your situation. I also pray all through the day, asking for the highest good of all, and I talk to Him about whatever is bothering me.
I have felt so much better after practicing all of this just the last few days. I realize now that I was practicing certain behaviors that were leading me into depression. Worry, negative thinking, hopelessness. I am a believer that we need to feel it to heal it so that is why I allowed myself to cry so much. Crying is also a release of emotions that helps you feel better. But I now realize I was crying because of the worry and negative thinking. It was exhausting me and making me feel hopeless. I was caught in a cycle.
Even though circumstances have not changed, I was able to break the depression and now am enjoying life moment to moment. I’ll tackle issues as they arise but I won’t allow made-up issues of my mind to take over my life again. I’m not feeling over the top joy or anything, but I am able to enjoy things rather than just feeling like I want to cry or just go to sleep all the time. I hope this helps.
Please share your thoughts on this subject in the comments below. Have you been able to break depression? If so, how?