Depression is a mood disorder but it touches on every aspect of your life. Every persons pathway into depression is different, and every persons pathway out of depression will be different and unique . While in depression I heard a lot of advice that I didn’t ask for and was just too tired and too sad to deal with. Now that I’m in a place where I search what can help me with my mental illness. I thought back and asked myself if some of that unsolicited advice was pointing to something useful? What did people mean and what wasn’t I getting at the time? Instead of getting upset by what others told me, I took a dive into that advice to maybe unravel something.
‘Are you sure it’s not because of a lack of vitamins?’ Biological factors influence your risk at getting depressed. Genetics play a part of that but there is no such thing as a ‘depression gene’. Psychological and social factors play are role too. Children of depressed parents are more at risk to develop a mental illness through modelling  . Kids do as they see. A variety of diseases can be preceded by depression like cardio-vascular disease. What I was thought in school as the first step before approaching anything from a psychological point of view was to exclude any other possible cause. In my experience this doesn’t always happen, even doctors dare to skip this step. If you have a sneaking suspicion that something is the matter in your body (hormones, vitamins, tumors, etc) you can have blood work done. Some medications require regular blood work, keep an eye on that one, it may be crucial. Biology matters.
‘You’re too sensitive’. Learn about your vulnerabilities, what are your triggers? You need to learn about yourself. Medication can help you to raise the floor on depression, it can help with sleep, mood swings and resilience because it can help you too stabilize those things . How to deal with your triggers, is going to be up to you. Medication can help you with finding vast ground beneath your feet but it will not shield you against life. Life continues no matter what. I found out that – as almost everybody – I value my freedom in general and freedom of choice in particular. Growing up with little of that gave me a sensor like a sniffer dog has one for a dead body, when someone wants to limit me or tells me what to do. I rebel like there is no tomorrow. I’m learning now how to stay true to me no matter what ‘others’ tell me (hence this post). Life will be challenging and everything changes, it’s best to deal with that. Once you know your triggers, you can work with them. Learning how to adapt, how to be more flexible. You can choose how many triggers you’re willing to deal with at once time. When vulnerable to stress, you can try to adjust the amount that you can handle, so you have room to grow. Everyone is sensitive to something, it’s how you go about it.
‘Live a little, go with your gut.’ Facts vs feelings. When you use internal orientation, you use (only) your feelings to make decisions and to interpret events that are happening in your life . When depressed I didn’t feel any feelings and my head wasn’t functioning as well. The fact that people told me not to take important decisions made me feel even more incapable of doing something. When you see the world through a depressed mood, your outlook will be not optimistic. It is very good to trust your internal compass but sometimes it needs to work together with your (sane) thoughts. Trust that you know some things. Maybe you don’t feel like taking your meds, when you know deep down that they are working for you, take them. When you feel deep down that they are not working, speak about that with your health professional. When you don’t feel like going to bed because of bad dreams but you know you also need your rest to recuperate, try to sleep, try to relax before going to bed. Being happy seems to need both your feelings and your thoughts. There are different routes to take and you are the driver. When stuck, try to take another road, and yet another, till you find a road that will lead you to your goal. Plan actions according to your goals and not always according to your feelings, those actions need to be timely and effective.
Have you been confronted with unsolicited advice? What is your take on it?
Resources and further reading.
 Online transcript of talk: How to prevent depression? by Michael Yapko.