I Got Major Depressive Disorder (Photo credit: Jean Big Cat)
I have battled the beast otherwise known as major depressive disorder for a decade or so now. During my battles I did extensive research on treatments for this debilitating condition and consulted with many professionals. I met with dietitians and nutritionists. I met with spiritual counselors, I joined a support group…..which turned out to be a triggering and numbing experience for me personally. I had, and still have, many sessions with psychologists. I was treated by psychiatrists. I considered whether I should have ECT therapy….. otherwise known as electric shock…… after several courses of several different anti-depressive medications seemed not to work. At one point, one of my treating doctors had me on a regimen of medications that included an SSRI, a tricyclic antidepressant, an antipsychotic, an anti-anxiolytic, and gabapentin. Within six or seven weeks of this regimen, I developed a pretty severe reaction called serotonin syndrome that put me in the ER.
Finding a treating psychologist that is a good fit for you is a tricky thing in my experience. It has a lot in common with finding a mate. It takes a bit of time to figure out if you are a good fit. Just like dating, some things look pretty and shiny and wonderful on the surface, but as the layers peel back over time, you find some behaviors or thought processes that are deal breakers……you just aren’t the right fit. For some people they find the right fit on the first or second try. With me, it took five. It seemed like it took forever and I was ready to give up hope on the whole thing. But number five was THE ONE. And his advice and guidance has been more precious to me than any diamond ring. While helping me address and process the trauma and issues that are my life in a way that will lead to my maximum return to health, he has passed on to me some real gems. So many of these things in hindsight seem so obvious……the kind of “duh, why didn’t I think of that” obvious. And I am about to share one of them with you.
As a firm advocate of holistic healing, he understood my strong dislike of taking psychotropic medication. But he also knew that I was struggling with strong suicidal ideation and very scared of my own mind. During the course of one of our sessions, he told me that a wise old guru once shared with him that when a person feels down, what they need to do most is go give back. The worse one feels, the more depressed one is, the more urgently they need to go volunteer. They need to help someone else who is struggling. His prescription to me that day…..immediately go do something nice for someone who was suffering and expect nothing else in return. And you know what?…..This RX is one that really works.
During the eight years before getting this prescription, I had not heard or read of this idea once before. But it seems so natural. What a concept! If you are feeling down…..force yourself to get out from under your covers and go give back. Not only will you receive the blessed feeling of doing something good, it will naturally lead you to contemplating gratitude. Practicing gratitude flips a metaphorical switch in your brains thought processes for the positive. You will be amazed the power that a smile to a random person holds. I know I was, and continue to feel this way . I find that something Tony Robbins says quite a bit holds true in my life…..if you look at the ceiling and smile and laugh…..even if you are forcing it…..it is practically impossible to feel bad in that moment. While it is virtually impossible to look up and smile every minute of every day…..doing something to help someone else on a daily basis is much more attainable and gives you the same results.
So please go share this “secret”treatment…..dare I even say for some a cure……for depression. Give it a try and tell everyone you know. Let’s make this the worst kept secret ever. Keep on going!