Here we have it, the one stage that so many people know and think about. Depression and grief. Depression is defined as “an illness marked by feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or hopelessness.” Also, it can include problems with concentration and focus.
Now that we’ve got all that clinical stuff out of the way, let’s dig in. Depression… It messes with your emotions, thoughts, and even your physical well being. So many people think depression just means being ‘sad,’ but there is so much more. Those who are depressed can run the full gamut of emotions, and ‘act’ as normal as those they are around. However, the real thing is what lays underneath the surface. Depression can be worse than common periwinkle. Don’t know what that is? I’ll explain.
Depression is something that can seep into your thoughts slowly, one bit at a time, and it takes over before you know it. Now, notice I said ‘can.’ I do feel the need to state that I’m putting a distinction between those with clinical versus as part of the grief process. For those who have clinical depression, the causes are different in most cases. In this instance, I’m talking only about depression in the grief process.
So, back to depression worse than common periwinkle. Common periwinkle is such a pretty blue flower, used often in landscaping, and great in the shade. The problem with periwinkle (Vinca minor for those that want to look it up) is that it can, and usually does, take over an area. It creeps, has trailing vines, and can be used to suppress weeds. Depression is like this. One can smile, and even ‘fake’ other emotions while still being depressed. Depression also numbs a lot of other feelings, like how periwinkle can suppress weeds.
Depression in the Grief Process has Numbness…Again?
Yep, again. Depression dampens or numbs a lot of other feelings outside of the sadness and overwhelming helplessness. So for some, moving from anger into depression actually helps them come down from angry mountain. There are others that the anger intensifies the depression, and then others that it’s almost like flipping a switch into the depression. The numbness that happens with depression can be different than the numbness at the beginning. Different stages, thoughts, and coping skills all lead to things being different, yet the same.
The problem with all these stages, so many things overlap, and I say that not only from personal experience but also being on the outside looking in with my friends and family. I’m not a ‘trained’ professional, but I certainly have been trained by life. Now, because it seems that so many things overlap, are similar, etc., the coping skills and mechanisms can get better each time. Well, that’s the hope at least.
As you work through the depression in the grief process, the trick for me was to learn ways of pulling myself out of the ‘slumps’ as I called them. It isn’t easy. I’ll be honest, trying to catch myself before hitting a slump was almost impossible. I was stressing out thinking that every moment might be turning into a slump. It was doing me more damage than anything else. I just had to start learning how to recognize the really down moments.
Handling the slumps
The slumps, downs, horrible moments, dips. Those are all words that we can use to describe the moments of depression. We have a tendency to give names to the moments, but then so often, that’s where it stays. We need to shift our focus slightly. Once we recognize those moments enough to consider giving them a name, we need to try to handle them.
Handling depressive moments, regardless of how long they last, can be a tricky situation. All of us are different, so it should be a given that we’re all going to handle our emotions differently. However, we have to realize that different episodes of emotions, especially things like depression in the grief process, can also be different than the last. That means that we need to have many options for what we can do or try to help ourselves through the slumps.
Realizing that depression is a normal aspect of grief is a definite thing that can help. However, we also have to acknowledge that we can’t let the depression own us, or our lives. Once we realize that we’re having a down moment, we need to own it. Letting ourselves process through the emotions and thoughts is fine, but then we have to begin processing through them. How do they effect us? Acknowledge the depression, own it as yours, see what it is doing to you, and then begin to handle it in a constructive way.
The key to constructive ways of handling things is that we realize the emotions are our own, but that we make a choice for them to not take over. We make the conscious decision to not be destructive with ourselves and our emotions. I could sit here and give you a million ways to work through, handle, or deal with the depression. The thing with that is it will only apply to some. I know this, because I know we’re all different. However, I will once again tell you that you are not alone.
Every post I give a challenge, some are easy, some not. This week is going to be more of an ongoing thing. Start defining things that help you, or could help you handle your depression. Give yourself time to think about it, especially during moments that you’re not in the slumps. Work through things, and most importantly, do it for yourself.
As always, we would love to hear from you. If there is something you’d like to tell us, share with us, or even ask; please feel free to comment below or you can contact us. Own your journey, and we will catch you on the flip side.