Your friends, family and social circle just aren’t people you can go to when you’re feeling depressed, so what do you do?
This isn’t uncommon. Recently, Ian, 47, shared his story with me:
"Overnight I went from being fine to being struck down with this black force that stopped me from doing anything. I am a wreck. I’m unable to carry on doing my job properly and I fall apart as soon as I get home. I told my wife and at first she was sympathetic but now she’s suggesting I see someone. But hell, there is no way I’m going to talk to anyone about this. I know what people will say….poor pathetic guy. I can’t stop crying and I’m thinking I’ll end up leaving my wife; I can’t pull myself out of it. Thinking about ending it all is the only relief I get right now."
In spite of talking to Ian about turning to his inner circle for help, he was adamant there was no support for him there. Sometimes, the pain and stigma are just too great to take it to family and friends.
Although depression affects everyone, men have a particular problem when it comes to depression. Whereas women talk to each other, men tend to keep things to themselves.
Whether you're male or female, there’s always the situation where someone can’t rely on others to be there for them and they need to find help away from family and friends.
What Can I Do When I Need To Find Support Elsewhere? Here’s A List Of 7 Things To Do
1. See Your Doctor
The first stop has to be the doctor. They follow a blueprinted process to help anyone suffering from depression to access the correct treatment and medication.
It can be difficult to distinguish between a normal mood change and full-blown clinical depression. After all there are still many stigmas about being depressed and that can increase our reluctance to seek help from a doctor.
However, they have the ability to help you because of their years of experience. They have many therapeutic approaches to draw upon and access to a whole range of treatment options, including alternatives.
The doctor is unlikely to tell you to 'pull your socks up and get on with it' and if they have, find another one. Anyone who’s depressed needs empathy and expertise.
It helps to remember that doctors see many people a day who suffer depression. One doctor I spoke to shared that at least half of his patients are suffering from depression and he discusses treatment throughout the whole day. It's normal for them to discuss depression.
2. Read a book
There’s some expert help sat there in your local bookstore or library. Obviously, I’m going to recommend my latest book ‘Beat Depression Fast’ but my style doesn’t suit everyone.
Your best bet is to take some time out and peruse the self-help shelves because the advice available if phenomenal.
I began my journey of recovery with some ground-breaking books. Some of my favorites were:
The Road Less Travelled
Healing The Shame That Binds You
The Power Of Now
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
Healing The Child Within
Co-dependent No More
These books are written by others who’ve experienced similar things to me but were further along the recovery road. They spoke my language and were a fantastic source of support when I had no one to turn to.
These books were available many years ago, before the Internet was born. Because access to such writing was limited, it was easier to treasure these books because there was little else available.
3. Find peer-to-peer Support
Why do I have to find peer support to beat depression? Because support from others who know how you feel is incredible; it’s like you’ve finally ‘come home’.
Research shows that positive peer support contributes to us getting better quicker, dealing with stress more effectively and helping to increase our self-esteem.
By reaching out to others and letting them see who we are we can build blocks of healing. It’s the intimacy that can help us get better because it’s often the difficulty we have in relationships that got us depressed in the first place.
The best-known peer-support groups are the 12-step groups and they are found all around the world.
Millions of people attend 12-step meetings every day. They are an underground movement that operates in the dark halls of churches and community centers. If you were wondering where depressed people go to get help, that’s where they go.
There are also some amazing peer-to-peer therapy groups. These are groups that are run by a professional facilitator. There are thousands of them to be found in the UK.
They range from groups for:
sexual abuse survivors
men’s therapy groups
groups for recovering addicts
groups that focus on recovery from various addictions such as workaholism, overspending, sexual addiction etc.
Groups can be found in every area of the community. Doctors’ surgeries offer groups run by nurses for giving up smoking; Christian centers offer groups for assisting a spiritual life-foundation; therapists offer groups for women who struggle in relation- ships. The list is long.
4. Get a therapist
One-to-one therapy is the way to receive objective information about our lives and ourselves. It gives us an idea of what is normal and how far off normal we are.
Some people say the idea that there is a ‘normal’ in the first place leaves us prone to judging ourselves.
However, there is a normal pattern of development that all humans go through. If we are depressed, then this pattern of development has been arrested.
With therapy, we can go back to when we stopped growing, address any trauma, retrain ourselves and then heal. If we have a good therapist, we won’t even realize we are going through this process – it just happens.
5. Find a Professional Organization
There are many professional organizations that are sitting waiting to help. In the area of mental-health they are particularly prolific. There are organizations that provide confidential, non-judgmental emotional support for people experiencing depression.
They will listen without trying to fix it and are often available 24 hours a day. They operate with telephone helplines, email response and sometimes walk in centres.
They generally don’t charge anything because they are funded through charitable donations.
6. Look at your diet
We all know that alcohol ‘slows you down’ while coffee ‘picks you up’.
Despite all the evidence suggesting that good food can provide huge benefits to our emotional wellbeing, we continue to eat foods that offer a short-term comfort but inject a longer-term setback.
I once ate a large tin of Quality Street chocolates when I felt too depressed to move. That night I felt drugged and the next morning I felt worse than ever. I knew I would feel like that yet I ate them anyway. Insanity!
This is one of the most important points in this article – what you put into your body will really affect how you feel. This is the time to take control and instantly help you to feel better. There are some foods that are well known for their ability to affect our mood, our levels of alertness, anxiety and stress, and the chemical composition in our brain.
I have written the book Superfoods To Boost Your Mood and to keep things simple, especially to begin with, I suggest following three simple tips:
Eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day with a portion being what you can hold in one cupped hand. This doesn’t include potatoes.
Eat 3 meals a day and nothing in between to keep consistency, structure and balance.
Avoid sugar and sugary foods and drinks – the one food most likely to exacerbate depression.
7. Work a program
There’s a wealth of different step-by-step programs waiting to be discovered.
These programs are often focused on helping people who are struggling in life to honor the hurting part of them. They help the participant to acknowledge the hurts and, through a sequence of exercises or steps, help them to own their parts, heal the wounds and embrace a new way of living.
These programs are often nationwide, offer online and face-to-face support and encourage members to work through issues.
What Programs Are There To Help People Specifically Treat Depression?
I must share with you my Program Of Miracles as a great starting point but there are others.
For example, there’s the SMART program for people with depression and addiction or alcohol problems the ALPHA course – for those who want to follow a faith based program and an Australian based course called This Way Up https://thiswayup.org.au.
So Can I Recover From Depression Without Support? It’s Harder But Possible
I would always advice that it’s much easier to recover from depression with support. The reason for this is because depression is about having a negative self-view and it’s by putting ourselves in front of supportive and encouraging people that we can slowly release our negative viewpoint.
However, this is not easy because the shame that surrounds the depression. It’s the shame that hold us back from seeking help.
For me, recovery from depression has been a slow walk. I’m finally at the place where I find it easy to reach out for support. But it wasn’t like that at the start. So I began with the steps outlined above and it was books that kicked off my journey.
I encourage you to start with any of the above suggestions because any start is better than no start and each part of your journey will take you somewhere new.