Depression can feel lonely, here are 3 ways to cope

Depression can feel lonely, here are 3 ways to cope

by Jennifer Brown
Stripes Okinawa

Editor’s note: At Stripes Okinawa, we love to share your stories and share this space with our community members. Here is an article written by Jennifer Brown, a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. If you have a story or photos to share, let us know at okinawa@stripes.com.

 

Anyone who has ever struggled with depression knows it is truly an illness that can take so much. It can take control of your life making it feel like life is not worth living. Overcoming these feelings and other effects of depression is easy feat, but it is possible.

Whether depression has always lingered or if it has risen from a particular circumstance, taking the steps to release its grip demonstrates an internal strength as well as personal will power. While each person may differ in how they navigate depression, a few things that may help include separating yourself from depression, seeking support from friends and family, and seeking professional help.

When we feel sad and overwhelmed, depression can feel like a safe haven to crawl into. As a result, when our depression is in charge it can quickly become a part of a person’s personal identity. Feelings of worthlessness take over and impact our behaviors. For instance, we may view ourselves as being lazy because we would rather lie in bed, when in reality, our depression is pulling us towards isolation, exhaustion, and a loss of motivation. Thus, in a way, depression has a very sneaky way of manipulating our view of ourselves.

Instead of submitting to these negative feelings, there are methods to cope.  One way to do this is to start to separate our sense of self and identity from the depression on paper. Journaling and writing out the characteristics you value about yourself in comparison to the cognitive behavioral processes that surround different circumstances. When we take the time to break what surrounds our depressive symptoms, we can defraud the lies that depression tells us.

When I feel isolated and lonely, I take time and write all of the things that I find valuable about myself in one column and, in another column, the thoughts, feelings, and actions that accompany thoughts of isolating and the act of isolating. Once these are written out, I can start to uncover the cognitions and thought patterns that may be irrational or untrue. In this case, I may value going out with friends, but find that I think that I will make a fool of myself by going out. Instead of succumbing to the urge to isolate, however, I can challenge this thought. I can mentally check the truth in the situation and to see if, in fact, I’ll actually be “making a fool of myself,” or if I just think I will. By doing these kinds of exercises, you can start to find yourself; you may even start to see yourself for who you are as a person versus the symptoms of depression you have and what these symptoms lead to.

In the same sense, it also may be helpful to reach out to family and friends if you are struggling with depression. Asking for support can be intimidating, but it is important for a number of reasons. When we reach out when we are struggling, we create some distraction and space between us and depression. Friends and family can be a source of encouragement and help us do things we find enjoyable. Even an act as simple as spending time with our loved ones can help us create positive experience. Likewise, by reaching out for support, we also have an outlet we can tap into if we start to get overwhelmed.

In the same respect, when times get tough it may be helpful to reach out to a professional. Having a counselor or psychiatrist can help for a number of reasons. Professionals who deal with depression all the time know the “ins and outs” of depression and how it manifests in people’s lives. These trained individuals can provide us extra support when we feel stuck and isolated from the world. What is great about seeking therapy is that it helps push you towards your goals and provide a sense of direction in your life. Navigating depression, why it develops, how it presents in our lives, and how it affects our life satisfaction can be a complicated process. These professionals, however, have a solid understanding of depression and how to help each individual person.

However you struggle, remember that you are more than your depression. Depression can be overcome with the right coping skills and support system. You do not have to fight this alone!

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Jennifer Brown is a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. Originally from Florida, she joined the Navy in 2018 and has been on island for over a year. During her free time, Brown enjoys spending time with animals, running, rock climbing, and hiking. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Her professional interests include social work, animal welfare, and children.

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