This week I found out that one of my relatives had been bullied all through primary school, high school and then even into his workplace. This ended up with a severe cry out for help and a mental health breakdown. I was infuriated. Who couldn’t love hanging out with him? Why didn’t I know? What could I have done to help?
As someone all too familiar with the struggles of anxiety and depression my heart went out to him. I literally cried after I saw him dosed up on medications trying to cope. This catalyst of events eventually became just too much. It’s been in the media a lot lately with high profile people like Charlotte Dawson and L’Wren Scott taking their own lives. Yet there still seems to be a stigma attached to depression and anxiety and people need to be educated about it.
8 years ago I was diagnosed with being clinically depressed and anxious. To look at me today you wouldn’t think it. But that’s the thing, people with depression mask signs well. I may have looked all together, but behind closed doors my hands were shaky, I couldn’t sleep, eat and panic attacks were the norm. It wasn’t even picked up by doctors initially.
Prior to my diagnosis I was in and out of emergency wards and even prescribed “Somac” for what they believed to be excessive gastric acid production. It wasn’t until this one doctor actually asked me “Have you had anything traumatic going on in your life?” If you’ve read my ‘about me‘ section you’ll understand how I could have developed depression.
I went on medication for a number of years. I’ve been off them for the past two years. I had counselling and participated in art therapy. Very UGLY art therapy. I exercised and ate better. Depression and anxiety is not just the ‘losing of one’s hope’ as some may like to think but it’s so much more than that. According to the “Beyond Blue” website it’s a ‘serious illness that has an impact on both physical and mental health.’
So what are some of the reasons why people develop anxiety and depression?
Some people develop anxiety and depression as a result of “Tall Poppy Syndrome.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s when people of genuine merit are attacked, bullied, resented and criticized because what they have achieved elevates them or makes them stand out above their peers.
Why do we do this? Why do we find the need to tear down people who are achieving success in their lives?
Tall Poppy cutters have often formed negative and limiting beliefs about themselves. These people will try to compensate for their own inadequacies and lack of confidence. This cutting down of the poppy may also happen because they just don’t want to be left behind. The thing is there is room for us all to be tall poppies. Leaning nice and tall, gazing towards the sun, soaking up the atmosphere of life. To fragrant the world with our talent and beauty.
NEGATIVE SELF TALK
Kate Britt comments on the Tiny Buddha website that:
It’s my belief that our self-talk is programming ourselves for our statements to be true.
We wire in the negative self talk and make it our reality.
Heard this before?
Why won’t this dress fit up anymore? I am so fat?
This is stupid. I am stupid. I just don’t get it?
I’ll never be as pretty as Kate Moss or a wellness warrior like Jess Ainscough, or advocate of peace like Mahatma Ghandi!
By saying these statements over and over we wire in fear! (Read my article on that here).
Kate Britt’s four steps for combating negative self talk are:
- Identify your negative self-talk and beliefs.
- Create affirmations out of those beliefs.
- Begin using the new affirmations.
- See the “magic” gradually unfold.
Now start wiring in positive affirmations to banish the negative self talk.
As mentioned at the beginning of the blog post, my relative was bullied which led to his breakdown. Valerie Cade at Bully Free at Work writes an excellent article about the myths surrounding why people bully.
I particularly like this myth:
Myth: “If I try harder, or be nicer, I can get the bully to change.”
Cade then goes on to discuss the reality.
Reality: A target’s first duty is to realize the bullying behavior for what it is. The bully has a low self image, and this has nothing to do with the target.
Understanding this fact and refusing to take the behavior personally can be difficult, but once targets accept this, they can move to bully proofing themselves so that the effects of the bullying are not so devastating.
We are in a collective sisterhood. We need to support one another. Watch this clip below to learn more about bullying and what we can do to disarm it:
Depression is not just something that happens because of traumatic events or people but it could also just purely be chemical. For me it is a combination of traumatic circumstances and a medical imbalance. This medical imbalance is due to having MTHFR which is an enzyme that converts folate you eat into the active form (5 Methyltetrahydrofolate). This means that if I can’t convert folate into its active form then I struggle to turn my neurotransmitters on and off. Also it means I am lacking in activated B vitamins so I need to restore this in order to function effectively.
If you are struggling please go and see someone. Know it is ok to seek help. A good friend once said to me “Why is it when we are sick we go to the doctor but when our mind is unwell we think it’s taboo?” It is not taboo. It is a real medical issue.
TIPS FOR COPING WITH ANXIETY/DEPRESSION
- First port of call – always see a medical professional. Find out what is causing the anxiety and depression. It could very well be a chemical imbalance.
- Talk to someone – I spoke with a counsellor. I still do. The benefits of counselling are personal growth, maturation, genuineness and general well being. Life coaching also helps. I’ll be writing about the benefits of having a life coach soon.
- Exercise – In the movie “Legally Blonde” Elle says “Exercise gives you Endorphines. Endorphines make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They don’t.”
Gary Small a professor at UCLA confirms about the importance of the Endorphins:
A few years ago, colleagues from Duke University compared the antidepressant effects of aerobic exercise training to the popular antidepressant medicine sertraline, as well as a placebo sugar pill. They randomized depressed patients to one of the interventions and found that after four months about 40 percent of the subjects were no longer depressed. Those who exercised or received the medicine had higher and comparable response rates, but they were only slightly better than the placebo group. Those who exercised at a moderate level – about 40 minutes three to five days each week – experienced the greatest antidepressant effect. So they interpreted that to mean that exercise was just as good as medicine. And in that particular study, the high placebo response meant that nonspecific influences like patient expectations and the attention from the study personnel during monitoring visits may have caused the therapeutic response. Exercise not only increases blood flow to the brain, it releases endorphins, the body’s very own natural antidepressant. It also releases other neurotransmitters, like serotonin, which lift mood.
- Use aromatherapy. My go to products are Audra James Botanicals. Aromatherapy can help improve sleep, boost mood, reduce tension and fatigue. I use a stress roll on balm when I’m teaching and at night I put a few sleep drops in a burner. It’s so bliss. I feel like I’m at a day spa when I use her products. Totally worth the investment.
- Incorporate good nutrition. There’s a good article here about this topic. Patrick Holford talks about the common imbalances connected to nutrition that may have an effect on your mood. Some of these being: blood sugar imbalances, lack of chromium, amino acids, B vitamins and essential fats.
So let’s be supportive of those going through anxiety and depression.
You are worthy, beautiful and loved by the King!
Have you ever had bouts of anxiety and depression?
What are some tips you have for those who struggle with anxiety and depression?