Overcoming Depression

By Jesse Herriott, M.A.
Overcoming Depression

Despite all the festivities and holiday cheer, many people this season will be reminded of what they may be experiencing as lack in their lives.

Depression is a serious problem in this country, and its ugly symptoms are all too common, even among those who practice spiritual principles to overcome it. Recent studies suggest that about 8.7 million Americans are being treated for depression, which adds up to about three out of every 100 people. Yet that figure does not include those who are treating depression on their own, or even ignoring it altogether. However, whenever you feel depression’s onslaught, there are things you can do in order to get back into your life, and resume control over your circumstances.

You see, our thoughts and feelings are indicators of how aligned or out of alignment we are with ourselves. Just because your life isn’t where you’d expect it to be does not mean that you cannot make strong steps towards becoming whole and creating a better life with what you have to work with. So when you feel your thoughts and feelings shift, and your mood becomes irritable, self-loathing, and defeated, the first thing you need to understand is that you are loved. Nobody’s situation is so bad that Spirit cannot work through them to make it better. Regardless of where you are or what you have—even if all you have is you—you can start there.

One of the key triggers of depression is our own lack of honesty with ourselves. When we place realistic expectations on what we are able to do, it frees us up. For example, if you don’t have the income to shower your children or loved ones with gifts and accessories, do what you can with what you have. The holidays are about times of reflection, recuperation, and family. If those around you don’t understand that, then maybe this is the wake-up call you needed in order to create more peace in your environment.

In addition, if you want to really kick depression out of your life, you have to surround yourself with love; eliminate friends or even family members who cannot love you for who you are, where you are. This can be pretty tough during the holiday season, simply because big holidays have a tendency to draw families together. Yet you know what’s best for your mental and emotional health. If you have to attend a gathering, find someone who resonates with your brand-new outlook, and have your own private gathering, within the larger gathering. You could even throw your own gathering with guests who really share your heart. It will not make you any less than who Spirit has called you to be if you choose to love some people from a distance.

Even if the pressure you are experiencing is from your own children, consider the fact that you are helping to create responsible and loving adults, as opposed to creating another generation hooked on materialism. Like most people, your family receives your love all year long. Don’t let the pressures of one day place you in worse financial and emotional straights than you were prior to its arrival.

Our self-esteem plays a huge role in our ability to stay out of the grips of depression. When things in your life don’t work out as you envision, instead of viewing circumstances with broad strokes such as “I failed”; “I lost”; “I didn’t receive”; “It’s my fault”; or “It’s their fault,” try to be fair with yourself. To be frank, you probably gained about 10 percent of what you wanted out of that situation, which is a bit more realistic, and it’s the way of escape that you needed out of that dark place you’re experiencing.

Other ways in which depression rears its ugly head are insomnia and oversleeping. In both cases, moderating how you handle your day will help you rest easier through the night. There are times in which you may want to sleep in late, but a repetitive habit of sleeping late all of the time exceeds the label of indolence; it could be a sign that you are running away from your life. First of all, learn to place a period at the end of your work day. It’s impossible for our systems to recuperate if we are pushing them beyond their limitations. Studies have shown that there’s a link between individuals with an abnormal circadian rhythm, which is the internal 24-hour clock that your body is regulated by, and depression.

Learn to treat your body as if it’s the temple of the divine; on a regular basis, create a relaxing space where you can end your day. Even if it’s as simple as a warm bath, soothing music, or quiet reading, recognize that the time you spend simply in a state of “being” is just as vital as the time you spend in a state of “doing.” And if none of that works for you, then make a commitment to talk with a therapist. There’s nothing wrong with having help along your journey.

Finally, learn to appreciate and accept the way in which you show up in your own life; value the inner gifts that Spirit gave you, and let that be good enough. Our lives are what we make of them, and it is our responsibility to bring the Divine into life just as much as we expect to receive the Divine and Sublime from life. Step outside and get some sunshine, knowing that every day above ground is a chance to live your life anew.

We all are humans first, and believe it or not, grounding yourself in the human experience is the key to living an authentic spiritual life. Embracing the spiritual path does not mean that you won’t have bad days; learning to embrace both the good and the bad and balancing your reaction to both of them is the heart of the spiritual path. Make a commitment to try and meet each day with honest effort and acceptance. You will find that by and by, you will get stronger, and peace will become your closest friend.

Jesse Herriott, M.A.Rev. Jesse Herriott is a priest, writer, and spiritual psychology teacher in Atlanta, Georgia. Jesse is also completing a Ph.D. in psychology from North Central University and is a contributing author on www.unity.org. In addition, he hosts a weekly radio broadcast airing every Tuesday at 9 a.m. Central on Unity Online Radio entitled Living on Purpose. Learn more at www.jesseherriott.com.