Depression is a serious illness. Anyone can become depressed. It doesn’t matter who you are, how wealthy your are or how good your life is; depression can strike anyone at anytime. It’s like a silent ghost. Depression does not discriminate. It’s a terrible disease that people all over the world suffer from.
What exactly is depression?
Well, there’s not an easy answer to this question. Depression is a lot of things all rolled into one. For example, people who are depressed often have a very low self esteem and feel they are worthless and helpless.
Symptoms of depression can include:
- A depressed mood during the days, often more intense in the mornings.
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- As said before, a feeling of worthlessness, and also guilt
- Indecision and lack of concentration
- Insomnia (an inability to sleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping)
- Diminished interest or pleasure in any activities
- Recurring thoughts of death and/or suicidal thoughts
- A sense of restlessness, or being slowed down
- Significant weight loss or weight gain
- Muscle pains
- Withdrawing from people
- Becoming dependent on alcohol or sedatives to get through the day
So you see, not only is depression a mental illness, it can be thought of as a physical illness as well, as it can cause a multitude of problems that affects you physically.
Why do people get depressed?
Well, there’s not an easy answer to that question, is there? Some people become depressed because their life utterly and completely sucks. People with chronic pain are at a higher risk of becoming depressed, as daily pain can do that to you. Then there are people who seemingly have it all, yet still get depressed. As I said, depression doesn’t discriminate, anyone can get depressed. If you ask someone why they are depressed, they might have an answer for you or they might not. Sometimes people who suffer from depression don’t even know why they are depressed.
The stigma around mental illnesses
A lot of people in the world suffer from mental illness, including depression. However, there is still a whole stigma surrounding these issues. For some reason, people find it easier to show support to someone who has cancer, than to someone who has a mental illness.
People with a mental illness often face discrimination, loss of friendship, isolation, exclusion from activities, difficulties in finding and keeping a job, not finding help and facing a slow recovery, if they recover.
Self esteem with depression
Often, a low self esteem accompanies those who are depressed. Some people think so little of themselves, even going as far as to believe that they are a disgusting burden. So, it’s not strange that this is often accompanied by depression. I believe that one of the first steps toward healing from depression, is working on your self esteem.
What exactly are the characteristics of low self esteem? (Off course, not every symptom applies to everyone.)
- Social withdrawal
- Anxiety and emotional turmoil
- Lack of social skills and self confidence. Depression and/or bouts of sadness
- Less social conformity
- Eating disorders
- Harming oneself
- Inability to accept compliments
- An inability to be fair to yourself
- Focusing on the negative parts of life
- Exaggerated concern over what you imagine people are thinking of you
- Self neglect
- Treating yourself badly, but being good to other people
- Worrying whether or not you’ve treated someone badly
- Reluctance to take on challenges
- Reluctance to put yourself first
- Reluctance to trust your own opinion
- Expecting little out of life for yourself
So, if you recognize yourself in many of these characteristics, it’s probably safe to assume you have low self esteem and you should try and boost it up, because low self esteem often leads to full on depression.
What causes low self esteem?
Low self esteem is based on the experiences you have in life, and the message you receive about who you are. A lot of things can cause low self esteem, here’s just a few examples:
- Systematic punishment, neglect and/or abuse
- Excessive criticism
- Being judged because of your physical appearance
- Failing to meet parental standards
- Failing to meet peer-group standards
- Being on the receiving end of other people’s stress or distress
- Belonging to a family or a social group that other people are prejudiced towards
- An absence of praise, warmth, affection or interest
- Being the odd one out, at home or at school
- Being systematically bullied by others
- A low financial and social position
- Betrayal in a relationship
- Ill health and trauma
- Negative experiences
How to boost your self esteem?
There’s a lot of things you can do to boost your self esteem, you just have to find the right things for you.
For example, you can do a positive ‘note’ system around your house and work place. You take several pieces of paper and write down positive phrases (ex. You are beautiful, you are kind, you are smart,….etc.) and hang them in places you go to a lot (ex. The bathroom mirror, your computer, your bedroom, your work place desk,… etc.). Read these phrases every day, repeat them over and over to yourself until you believe them.
Dispose of negative influences in your life. If you have friends who get down on you for being depressed, or who don’t believe that you are ill, then those are not good friends to have, especially when you’re in a state of depression. So, remove all bad elements from your life (yes, they may include friends and family, but sometimes it’s for the best), and surround yourself with positive, loving people who support you and care about you.
Keep a journal and write in it everyday, even if you don’t feel like it (then write that). Write about what you’re feeling and thinking, write about the events of the day, both bad and good. Writing is very therapeutic, as it releases some of the tension and stress you feel from keeping it all bottled up inside.
You can also keep a ‘grateful’ book. Each day, write down one thing you’re grateful for that day. When you feel like you can’t go on, read your grateful book and see there are still things worth living for.
I also keep a quote book, as well as a song lyrics book. If I feel down or am riddled with anxiety, I like to look at these books. The quote book is filled with positive quotes and even a few poems. I always have it near me ready to look into it if I feel I need to. These quotes can be very empowering. As for the song book, well, music is an important part of life, and there are so many songs that offer strength and comfort, so I write down the lyrics of these songs so I can read them at any time.
Accept your strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and knows what they are. However, people with low self esteem and/or depression tend to only focus on their weaknesses, not their strengths. The key is to embrace both. They’re part of who you are, and that’s not a bad thing. I acknowledge both my strengths and weaknesses, and I don’t dwell on them. I accept them for what they are, and if I can, I sometimes work on those weaknesses, but I don’t focus on them. Accept yourself for who you are.
Accept and embrace failure. Failure is a big part of life. There’s not a single person in the world who hasn’t failed at one thing or another. The key is not to falter when you fail. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Don’t beat yourself up over a failure, it’s a perfectly natural thing. What you do when you fail, that defines you. Will you let it take you down, or will you let it strengthen you? Failure isn’t a bad thing, not at all, it’s a human thing, embrace it and learn from it, let it make you stronger.
Appreciate the little things. A lot of people have become so complacent nowadays, and hold no appreciation for the little things (such as food, water, a bed, a shower, etc.). Appreciate them for all they are, because there are people in this world who don’t have the luxury some of us have. Appreciate everything you have to the fullest. Stop and smell the roses sometimes.
Begin each day on a positive note. If it’s a cup of coffee, a funny facebook page or a TV show, begin your day with something that gives you joy. It sets a positive vibe for the rest of the day.
Discover and seek out things you are passionate about. Some people would say a hobby is just that, a hobby. But it’s so much more; it’s passion, it’s a distraction, it’s something to make you happy. So find whatever it is that you like to do, feel passionate about and makes you happy (it can off course be several things). If you feel like you’re going under, work on one of these things that make you passionate, distract yourself from the negative emotions and fill yourself with good ones. And above all, be proud of what you do, because it is something to be proud of.
Working on your self esteem is the first step in healing yourself of your depression. Off course your depression won’t just go away by boosting your self esteem. It’s still a daily, ongoing struggle, and you do have to fight very hard to come out as the victor.
Depression is such an ugly disease, and it can ruin your life if you let it. The trick is to keep working through it, keep battling those inner demons everyday. And someday, those demons inside, those voices in your head that tell you this world isn’t worth living in, they’ll quiet down and you will find a sense of peace. But again, only if you’re willing to work on it.
Just keep reminding yourself of the good things in your life and look around for the beauty in the world. It might not be as obvious as it once was, but that beauty is still there, you just have to look hard enough.
Yes, depression can destroy someone. But remember, it can be beat! Think of it as a monster. Monsters can be fought against, monsters can be defeated, and so can depression. Be strong and remind yourself that this fight is worth fighting.
So, that is just about what I wanted to say about depression and self esteem for now. I hope this is helpful.
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